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The Kansas City Chiefs went down
hard in 2011

It was a rough year for the hometown team.



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Turquoise and the Hair
November 6, 2011

Known for a rather disheveled look that included wearing shabby jeans and sweatshirts straight out of the Bill Belichick fall line, Haley began growing a "lucky beard" just before the Chiefs' four-game winning streak began. There's a rich history of sports streaks and hair growth, but Haley broke with tradition when he didn't shave his hobo beard after the team was blown out at home 31-3 by the previously 0-7 Miami Dolphins. Rather than breaking out the clippers and cleaning up, Haley stubbornly kept the beard. He even missed an easy chance to fault his superstition for the loss. "My grooming habits have nothing to do with the performance of our team," he told the Star in the week after the defeat. "That's my own obsession, compulsive disorder, whatever they call it." Something to remember next time he finds a coaching job: When you lose, blame the beard.

Broncos Storm the Cassel
November 13, 2011

The bad news piled up in the Chiefs' 17-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in week 10. Under the pile of Broncos defenders Elvis Dumerville and Von Miller, quarterback Matt Cassel suffered an injured throwing hand. After the game, Haley told reporters that he wasn't sure how long Cassel would be out. "The length of it, we're not sure, but there's some optimism." This level of spin was admirable. Cassel was put on injured reserve days later and wasn't seen the rest of the season. The future under center belonged to either Palko or Stanzi.

The Age of Orton Begins (Sort Of)
November 23, 2011

The Chiefs finally spent a whopping $2.5 million on a quarterback. The Chiefs won the Kyle Orton Sweepstakes, claiming Orton from waivers and keeping him from going to his desired destination: the Chicago Bears. Despite Palko serving up three interceptions in a disastrous 34-3 Monday Night Football drubbing by the New England Patriots, Orton wouldn't see the field until the second quarter of week 13's game. Meanwhile, Stanzi was left on the sidelines admiring his "Made in USA 1987" tattoo.

Throw Your Hands in the Air and Show You Don't Care
November 27, 2011

The Chiefs were driving on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Down 13-9 in the fourth quarter with time running out, the Chiefs were sitting on the Steelers' 37-yard line. Palko was in a rhythm, having already thrown two interceptions while Stanzi was daydreaming about how much he loves America. On this final possession, Palko looked to the Chiefs' top receiver, Dwayne Bowe, and Bowe raised his hand to call for the ball. Despite Bowe being surrounded by defensive backs, Palko threw it. Bowe didn't even bother to raise his hands to catch the football, which was intercepted by the Steelers' Keenan Lewis with 29 seconds left. "I've seen a lot of lame stuff in the NFL ... ," mused stunned NBC analyst Chris Collinsworth. Game over.

Birthday (Law)Suit
December 2, 2011

Perhaps the most upsetting piece of news for Chiefs die-hards came in early December when a longtime front-office employee filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against the team. Brenda Sniezek worked for the Chiefs from 1982 to January 2011, when she was cut loose as the team's community relations director.

Sniezek, 52, was told that her position was being eliminated. But her lawsuit alleges that the Chiefs wanted to weed out those older than 40 from the team's operations departments. The lawsuit claims in part that Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli, who was named NFL Executive of the Year a week before Sniezek was given her walking papers, was overheard saying, "We're going to get rid of everyone who was with [previous GM] Carl Peterson, especially anyone over the age of 40." Sniezek's lawsuit names other fired employees by name and includes a line graph illustrating the alleged drop in ages of front-office employees called "How the Chiefs Were Built: Going Young."

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