It’s been five years and one month since the Kansas City Chiefs fired Todd Haley as their head coach and since then he’s matched wits against them four times as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator. With the Steelers now about to face the Chiefs again in a Sunday’s Divisional Round playoff game, Haley made it clear Thursday that there’s no extra motivation to beat his former employer again just because it’s a postseason game.
“No. I have been through this. What is important to me is coming out on the winning side,” Haley said Thursday during his weekly talk with the media. “It doesn’t matter who we were playing in this game. It’s a huge game for all of us, and one that we want to figure out a way to win.”
Since being fired by the Chiefs on December 12, 2011, after leading his team to a 5-8 record during the 2011 NFL season, Haley and the Steelers have beaten Kansas City three times. The only loss to the Chiefs during that span of four meetings came last season in Week 7 and included Landry Jones making his first career start in place of injured starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs won that game 23-13 at Arrowhead Stadium, a place that Haley knows first-hand just how tough it is for visiting teams to win in.
“It’s loud,” Haley said of Arrowhead Stadium where the Chiefs have played their home games since 1972. “Whether it’s how it’s built, whatever it is, it seems to hold sound and I have been on the other end of it and I have gone in there and coached, and It cannot be a factor in this game. We work very hard at making the venue of where we play a non-factor. Sometimes we’ve done better than others, but we have to go out and put all of those things to use in this game, because I am sure it will be extremely loud.”
While Haley’s first stint as a head coach certainly didn’t go as planned and included him reportedly accusing the Chiefs organization of bugging portions of the team facility and tampering with his cell phone after he was fired, several believe he could wind up being a candidate for one of the few remaining head coaching vacancies around the league. Roethlisberger has even gone on record several times over the course of the last few weeks in saying he believes Haley should receive consideration after the Steelers season comes to an end. Haley was told that on Thursday.
“I think it’s very nice of him to say but my focus is 100% on trying to get this game against the Chiefs,” Haley said of Roethlisberger’s comments. “It’s a huge game for us and I think if your focus isn’t 100% on that, then you are doing a disservice to the players and the coaches that you are with.”
Should the Steelers beat the Chiefs on Sunday, Haley will have to wait a little bit longer to interview with other teams that might be interested in hiring him to be their next head coach. If, however, the Steelers season comes to an end Sunday in Kansas City, it will then be interesting to see whether or not Haley receives any calls.