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Jason Whitlock on D&C: ‘Pittsburgh’s the best team in football’

01.05.11 at 9:45 am ET
By columnist Jason Whitlock checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday to talk about news from around the sports world. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Looking at the AFC playoffs, Whitlock ranks the Steelers ahead of the Patriots. “The biggest threat to the Patriots, to me, is the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he said. “I still think Pittsburgh’s the best team in football. ‘€¦ That does not mean that the Patriots won’t win the Super Bowl, because I think they’ve got the best quarterback in football and I think they’ve got the best coach in football. But the best team, top to bottom, I think is the Pittsburgh Steelers, on both sides of the ball. I love their quarterback, not as much as I like Tom Brady, but I do like Ben Roethlisberger, I think he plays big in the playoffs. I love Troy Polamalu. There’s a lot to like about Pittsburgh.”

Whitlock wrote a column this week in which he was especially critical of Chiefs coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli. He called Haley “insecure, mean-spirited, emotional and irrational.” Of Pioli, the former Patriots vice president of player personnel, Whitlock wrote: “I can’€™t stand Scott Pioli. It’€™s true. In any environment, Pioli is a low-character, self-absorbed egomaniac in love with the sound of his voice.”

Whitlock stood by his comments Wednesday but also readily acknowledged those two men deserve credit for the Chiefs’ success this season. “Despite having a low opinion of Scott Pioli as a person, I think he’s done a masterful job as a general manager,” Whitlock said. “I feel like he’s followed the [Bill] Belichick blueprint, or the New England blueprint perfectly.”

Whitlock recounted a dinner he had with Pioli, Haley and other writers when Pioli took the Chiefs job and Whitlock was columnist for the Kansas City Star. According to Whitlock, Pioli spoke over Haley and tried to intimidate the media members. “He was trying to draw a line in the sand. ‘There’s a new sheriff in town,’ ” Whitlock said, and that led to a verbal confrontation between the writer and GM.

Whitlock has since moved on from the Kansas City paper and into his national job, but he reports that Pioli has not changed. In fact, he’s gotten worse. “Yes, he’s even more of a bully now,” Whitlock said.

Asked what spurred Charlie Weis to leave the Chiefs and take the offensive coordinator position with the University of Florida, Whitlock said: “It’s Todd Haley. He’s very difficult to work for. Very difficult. … I think he promised Charlie Weis a lot of autonomy to run that offense and then took it away from him.”

Touching on other NFL news, Whitlock talked about Randy Moss and predicted: “He’ll probably play next year, but for the NFL minimum.”

Acknowledging that it might be irresponsible to say, Whitlock stated: “I think he’s probably got some mental health issues, like a lot of people, undiagnosed or maybe diagnosed. And so it’s not surprising he couldn’t keep it together forever, and the Patriots had to cut bait with him. To some degree, I feel sorry for Randy Moss. He had enough talent to be the greatest NFL player of all time, but I think short-circuited a little bit up top.”

The Bengals brought back Marvin Lewis despite a 4-12 season in 2010. Whitlock said the blame for Cincinnati’s problems belongs to upper management. “Marvin Lewis is trying to make chicken salad out of chicken poop,” Whitlock said, adding: “Marvin Lewis is working in a hot mess. There’s no overall guiding philosophy driving that organization. ‘€¦ I’m not sure if any coach can build a consistent winner in Cincinnati. So, I can see how he got the contract, because I’m sure he’s got some legitimate complaints about how they’re constructing that team, and he wants more control over personnel.”

Tattoos were a topic of discussion on Wednesday’s show prior to Whitlock’s appearance. Said Whitlock: “Any time you incarcerate as many people as America has, there’s going to be a counter culture that’s born from that. The whole tattoo deal is coming straight from our prison institutions all over the country and this culture of tattoos and other behavior comes straight from the penitentiary. We have a counter culture in prison that’s powering free society.”

As for athletes’ preference for body art, Whitlock said: “I think it’s a bad look for the NBA. Most people are a little bit put off or uncomfortable with it. ‘€¦ They guys look crazy. Now you’ve got these HDTVs. I mean, they really look crazy.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jason Whitlock, Marvin Lewis, Randy Moss



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