Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali might be a few months away from his 34th birthday and headed into his 12th NFL season, but his passion for the game still burns brightly.
Witness his tweets on Saturday afternoon. Hali began by saying he wanted fans to know that he played in just seven snaps in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and noted that he had been told, presumably by coaches and team brass, that the reason he hadn’t played much during the regular season was to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Then Hali wondered: do the Chiefs still need him?
watching both Steelers game from sideline and playing 15 and 7 in the last game I'm still lost. Am I needed in KC anymore?
— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 22, 2017
Though he played in all 16 games last year, it was the first time in Hali’s career he wasn’t a full-time starter, starting just twice.
But it wasn’t just his playing time Hali needed to vent about – without naming names, he also called out his teammates. On paper, Kansas City is one of the best teams in the AFC, but Hali was apparently disappointed by his teammates’ dedication to the offseason program:
According to Kansas City Star beat writer Terez Paylor, safety Eric Berry, cornerback Marcus Peters and outside linebacker Justin Peters, three of the Chiefs’ most talented defensive players skipped all of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, and Dee Ford, who led the team in sacks last year, skipped some of the workouts.
But Hali was present for all of them.
In an interview with Arrowheads Abroad that posted on Saturday, before his tweets, Hali offered more insight into his thoughts on offseason participation.
“I’m not gonna shy from it, I think it’s important, especially if you’re on our team and you’re one of our leaders, that you should always be there,” Hali said. “I don’t want to say names. This is my 12th year and I haven’t missed one offseason with the Chiefs. Whoever is on our team and expected to be a leader, we need those guys there because the younger guys come in and see these guys and say, ‘well, I want to be like him, he’s here and he has a lot of money but he’s here, he’s working with the team’. It builds such chemistry for our team.
“I try not to talk on it but it really hurts my feelings because I know how much I love the game and I want for everyone to be here so we can all just get on the same page and make this run. Sometimes that chemistry gets a little lost on your own time, you go someplace else and do your own thing. I understand it’s a business but as far as football goes, when we’re on the field, it’s no business. The business is to go kick ass. Us as players, that’s what we enjoy doing. I encourage anyone that’s on our team that feels they are a leader and can lead our team should be around our team 24/7 when we’re supposed to be there.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid will have his first press conference of training camp on Monday afternoon, but we have to wonder: will Hali’s Twitter rant be another distraction for the team?
There already promises to be breathless evaluation of the competition between veteran incumbent quarterback Alex Smith and rookie Pat Mahomes, and it remains to be seen whether Reid’s offseason power-play – just days after Reid signed a contract extension Kansas City fired general manager John Dorsey and promoted Brent Veach, who has been rising through the ranks since Reid hand-picked him for a job years ago in Philadelphia – will work.
And now Hali, one of the most productive pass-rushers in the NFL over the last decade, has not only expressed discontent with his playing time but has also called out his teammates.
It promises to be an interesting camp for the Chiefs.