The Chiefs have reached a deal to make Andy Reid the team's new coach, and the contract "is now being reviewed by attorneys and is expected to be finalized" later Friday, according to sources cited by Mortensen & Schefter of ESPN.com. The move comes after the Chiefs and GM Scott Pioli "mutually agreed to part ways after four seasons." Pioli joined the Chiefs after nine years with the Patriots, but he "failed to turn around the Chiefs, who were 23-39 in his four seasons" (ESPN.com, 1/4). NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal writes Reid will be "able to shape the organization in his image." He is "expected to bring a general manager or personnel director that he's familiar with so they can work together in lockstep" (NFL.com, 1/4). ESPN's Ed Werder reports Reid "did not want to work with Pioli even though he was part of the Kansas City delegation that came to Philadelphia and interviewed him” on Wednesday. However, Pioli is leaving the organization for "a lot of reasons." He did not "solve the Kansas City quarterback situation," and he hired two head coaches that "failed.” The move also shows that Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt "is committed to sort of creating a new environment throughout the Kansas City organization” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 1/4). NFL Network's Steve Wyche said Reid is the “biggest name coach out there,” the Chiefs hiring him “could help pacify a fan base that grew rabidly disenchanted with what was going on with the Chiefs this season.” Wyche: “This is major bridge-building with the fan base and a media base there in Kansas City that had grown incredibly disenchanted.” NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz added, “Lots of empty seats in Kansas City toward the end of the season” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 1/4).
HUNT LETTING IT BE KNOWN WHO'S IN CHARGE: In K.C., Sam Mellinger reports the worst Chiefs season in franchise history is "less than a week in the past," and Hunt already "appears to be giving his best effort to rebrand this thing back to respectability." Hunt is in control of the franchise "like never before," with his grasp "tighter than ever, his fingerprints in places he used to entrust to others." The "stark differences between him and his beloved father are coming into focus." Mellinger: "Clark is quiet but ambitious. Respectful but ruthless. Flexible on details but intolerant of failure." Regardless of what fans think of Reid's "bona fides, we can all see what Hunt has done since Sunday's appropriately limp, season-ending blowout loss at Denver: fired a failed coach, publicly emasculated a failed general manager, made clear a new power structure, identified the new coach he wanted, flew in for a meeting that effectively canceled other teams’ meetings and appeared on the verge of making the first hire of a seven-coach NFL offseason." Reid will be "the Chiefs' voice, the guy on the sidelines and in the news conferences," but Hunt "is the muscle, shaping the Chiefs into something entirely new" (K.C. STAR, 1/4).
The Jets Friday plan to begin the "first of a planned flurry of interviews" for the team's vacant GM position following the dismissal of Mike Tannenbaum, according to Bart Hubbuch of the N.Y. POST. Jets Assistant GM Scott Cohen and Giants Dir of College Scouting Marc Ross are "likely to be the first up," with former Browns GM Tom Heckert and 49ers Player Personnel Dir Tom Gamble "confirmed for some point during the weekend." Falcons Player Personal Dir Dave Caldwell is "thought to be in the mix this weekend." The Jets have also received permission to talk with Packers Dir of Football Operations John Dorsey (N.Y. POST, 1/4). SportsNet N.Y.’s Chris Carlin said with coach Rex Ryan not getting fired, “no good general manager is going to take this job.” Carlin: “A GM wants to have a say in who the coach is, and when you have the owner saying, ‘He’s our coach,’ well, that sends the message that the owner and the coach are very close” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 1/3).
THE SILENCE OF THE JETS: SNY’s Jonas Schwartz noted Ryan, who is reportedly vacationing in the Bahamas, continues to "get crushed for his silence” after the end of the regular season, but it is "not like Jets Owner Woody Johnson is talking, and that might be influencing Rex’s decision to go into hiding.” ESPN’s Eamon McAnaney said Johnson “deserves the bigger hit for their silence” because he is the “one who made the decision” to fire Tannenbaum and keep Ryan as coach. McAnaney: “Woody Johnson should stay in front of the media and answer those questions as to why he made the decision. But the fall guy is going to be Rex because now the media has turned on him. … Rex had an ally with the media. He was good copy, he was great entertainment and he made their jobs easier. Now that’s starting to turn.” The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said Ryan is “just following orders" sent from Johnson by not talking to the media, because Johnson could “care less what the media thinks” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 1/3). SNY's Sal Licata said, “It’s the same nonsense with this team but it starts at the top” (“The Wheelhouse,” SNY, 1/3).
Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek "completed the process of refinancing the team’s debt and buying out his partners, making him the sole owner," lifting a "dark cloud that’s hung over the organization for roughly 18 months," according to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen RECORD. Vanderbeek "takes over the 47 percent share of Brick City Hockey LLC, which was headed by Mike Gilfillan and Ray Chambers," and the 6% owned by investor Peter Simon. The deal had been "completed for a while, but the finalization was delayed with the league’s lawyers being otherwise occupied with lockout responsibilities." Vanderbeek was "approved as sole owner of the Devils" by the NHL BOG. There was a "real debt of roughly $78 million that had to be refinanced and the delicate process of Brick City Hockey LLC extricating itself from its ownership share." Vanderbeek and the Devils will be in "a much better situation, and it’s possible at least one new partner will be brought in down the road." With CIT Group "working as the lead arranger, Vanderbeek had been working for a year and a half with creditors to refinance the team’s debt" (Bergen RECORD, 1/4). In Newark, David Giambusso noted the agreement came "after a year of near-deals, phantom investors and the specter of bankruptcy." Sources said that it was "settled within the past week and as of now does not include investment from outside sources." The officials who spoke Thursday said that the Devils "have no plans to move anytime soon and bankruptcy is off the table for the time being" (NJ.com, 1/3). In N.Y., Josh Kosman cites sources as saying that the agreement "with lenders gives Vanderbeek two and a half years to stabilize the team’s finances and meet certain financial targets, or they have the right to remove him as owner." Vanderbeek personally "put down much of the $20 million that went to pay overdue loans and get lenders to agree to a $160 million package that covers both the team and arena debt" (N.Y. POST, 1/4).
FULL SUPPORT: In Newark, Rich Chere noted the NHL has "no issue" with the timing of the announcement. League officials were “consulted in advance” that Vanderbeek would be making his announcement. Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello said that there was "nothing unusual about the timing." The NHL "approved Vanderbeek assuming 100 percent control of the team just before Christmas" (NJ.com, 1/3). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes with the backing of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Vanderbeek "kept the banks at bay and worked out a deal to refinance part of the team's debt, which is about $178 million." With interest rates "near record lows, refinancing a chunk of the team’s debt most likely freed money to pay down some of it." Going forward it is "almost certain that the Devils and other teams will receive a greater share of the league’s revenue, perhaps another reason banks were willing to refinance some of the Devils’ debts" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/4).
News that the Braves would bring back the Noc-A-Homa logo for its batting practice caps "generated so much controversy and backlash ... that the team may end up switching to another cap logo," according to Paul Lukas of UNI-WATCH.com. If that happens, "expect MLB to issue lots of revisionist-history talking points about how the Indian design was just 'one option we were exploring' and that it was 'in development but never finalized' and that the Braves simply 'opted to go in another direction.'" As of Thursday, it still was "listed in the MLB Style Guide" (UNI-WATCH.com, 1/3). CBSSPORTS.com's C. Trent Rosecrans wrote there will "certainly be fans upset, fans who liked the hat as much as some of us disliked it." Rosecrans: "But in the end, I believe it's better for MLB and the Braves to take the high road and change the hat." They are going to be "called names either way, and in the end, I tend to err on the side of not putting what many believe is an offensive caricature on official team merchandise" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/3). YAHOO SPORTS' David Brown wrote there have been "worse, more demeaning caricatures of Native Americans used in Major League Baseball." However, that "doesn't mean the Braves should go backward and use another logo simply because it has cleaner lines." The only reason to bring back the logo is "because people would buy it," but the Braves "don't need money that badly" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/3).
MAKING MORE OUT OF IT THAN NEED BE? In Atlanta, David O'Brien wrote, "I'll go on record as saying I like the logo. Sorry if that's politically incorrect to some. I like it. Then again, I'm not Native American." O'Brien: "Is it racist? Really? That just feels a bit over-the-top reactionary to me, and usually it seems that charge is coming from people who are on the outside of this looking in. ... Rather than from actual Native Americans." If many "of them ... are offended, then I think it shouldn't be used." It is not "for us to decide if it's offensive; it's for those whom it depicts, and their ancestors, to decide." O'Brien: "Does the Indian-head logo feature a spear or bloody knife somewhere that I’m missing? Or what, is it a Mohawk haircut that’s offensive to some? What specifically about the logo is offensive?" (AJC.com, 1/2).