The Kansas City Chiefs announced Monday that head coach Todd Haley is out effective immediately and that defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will coach the team for the remainder of the 2011 season following the dismissal of Haley.
"This was a difficult decision but one that we feel is best for the future of the Chiefs," Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said on the team's website. "Although there have been bright spots at different points this season, we have not made meaningful progress and we felt that it was necessary to make a change. We appreciate Todd's contributions during his time with the club, and we wish him well in the future."
During a 2 p.m. news conference that lasted more than 20 minutes, Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said it was a difficult decision.
"It was a difficult day for everybody," he said.
He said he and Hunt discussed firing Haley on Sunday night but didn't want to make the decision in the heat of the moment. He said they thought about it overnight and stuck by the decision Monday morning and met with Haley and his coaching staff.
He said there wasn't "a final straw," but an accumulation of issues.
"I don't think there was any one thing that said this is why we are going to do it," Pioli said.
He also said he needs to make improvements, including building a better roster.
"I need to do my job better," he said.
He said he doesn't know what Crennel will bring as a head coach and how he will run the team differently than Haley, but said the two men have similar passions for the game. Crennel will be a candidate for the permanent post, Pioli said.
Hunt said he believes the head coach position will be "a very attractive" one.
Regarding Haley's unsportsmanlike penalty, Hunt said Haley was "always himself."
"He is a very passionate person who is very competitive," he said. "That energy he brought to the team was always positive."
Hunt said he and Pioli only began discussing "the need to make a decision on the head coach until the last week." Hunt said he does not think that Haley had lost his players and staff.
Two Chiefs players spoke to the media about the firing. Chiefs running back Jackie Battle and defensive player Derrick Johnson were philosophical about the firing.
Johnson said it was "a tough deal," but said Haley will bounce back. He said the team did not quit on Haley.
Battle said players and coaches are judged in the NFL on the number of wins.
"It all comes down to wins and we weren't winning this year," Battle said.
At a 24 Hour Fitness in Independence the news of Haley's firing interrupted workouts. The news broke just before 10:30 a.m. Monday when the Chiefs sent out a news release.
People on treadmills pointed at monitors when the news flashed.
Two men clapped, while others gathered underneath the screens. Several women on stair climbers began excitedly talking, as the firing seemed well-received.
An Independence man said, "This is great. They had to do something. They were awful."
The Chiefs dropped to 5-8 after Sunday's 37-10 loss to the New York Jets.
While Haley was with the Chiefs, the team posted a won-loss record of 19-27 and claimed the AFC West Division Championship in 2010.
"Todd helped this team in many valuable ways over the past three seasons, and I am thankful for his contributions," Pioli said. "Unfortunately, we have not been able to establish the kind of consistency we need to continue to build a strong foundation for the future and we believe a change is important at this time."
In his second season with the Chiefs, Crennel was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and led Cleveland to a 10-6 record in 2007, which was the club's best mark since finishing 11-5 in 1994.
Crennel is currently coaching in his 30th NFL season and has been part of five Super Bowl championships, six conference titles and nine division titles with the New York Giants, New England and Kansas City.
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