|09-25-2008, 11:13 AM||#1|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V
Wiegmann is Broncos' insurance policy with Nalen out for year
This is a good article that has a funny insight into the Chiefs offense and organization in general. It must be hell over there.
There were plenty of reasons Casey Wiegmann could have justified calling it quits this offseason.
He was coming off a glum year emotionally in Kansas City. The Chiefs had become NFL bottom feeders and things weren't looking particularly bright for a quick turnaround. And he'd already played a dozen seasons, a solid career by anyone's standards.
"I was close to retiring," Wiegmann said during a recent interview with the Rocky. "But my wife even said, 'You're not going out 4-12. You play this game to win the Super Bowl.' And there's a chance here that we can do that."
"Here" is Denver, Wiegmann's new home. And during the Broncos' surprising offensive onslaught to open the season, he literally has been right in the middle. Wiegmann has filled in for the injured Tom Nalen at center and arguably has been the Broncos' best offensive lineman through three games.
The job became permanent Tuesday with the news Nalen's balky left knee landed him on injured reserve.
Wiegmann also has done something else perhaps even more unexpected during the past month - relax.
"The guys laugh at me that I'm smiling and everything," Wiegmann said. "But it's fun here."
Wiegmann, 35, will be downright giddy if he can beat the 0-3 Chiefs on Sunday (11 a.m. MDT, CBS 4) in his return to Arrowhead Stadium, where he forged the majority of his current 114-game starting streak.
For all the good memories he has in Kansas City, and there are many, Wiegmann still harbors some animosity about how his departure was handled.
Wiegmann maintained the Chiefs told him the day after the season that he'd be back, only to turn around and release him in March as part of the team's youth movement.
Kansas City was undergoing a change in philosophy to bigger-bodied linemen, and Wiegmann, at 6-foot-2, 285 pounds, was deemed too small. The Chiefs liked Rudy Niswanger, a 2006 undrafted free agent, and wanted to give him a look.
The reversal was stunning but somewhat understandable considering that backdrop. But the manner in which he was informed was unacceptable to Wiegmann.
"They called me and left a voicemail on my cell phone," he said. "It's amazing. When you give them all your hard work and all your blood, sweat and tears, they give you a phone call and leave a voicemail. It's not really the right way to do things."
In hindsight, though, a change probably was necessary.
At various points, Wiegmann had seen some of his fellow Chiefs linemen retire, perhaps prematurely, in part because of full-pad, midweek practices that beat down veteran players. He'd felt underpaid, having played seven straight years without missing a snap for a group that in the early 2000s was the NFL's standard among offensive lines. And he claimed, in vague terms, promises had been made but not kept by the Chiefs organization.
Also, Kansas City's once-powerful offense had, according to Wiegmann, become so predictable that, during the 2007 season finale in New York, Jets defensive players at the line of scrimmage called out the exact play the Chiefs were about to run three straight times.
All of it made retirement thoughts inevitable, once Wiegmann got his voicemail pink slip.
"I was just so miserable last year," he said candidly. "I went to work. I did my work and I left right after work. It was just a miserable atmosphere. I don't know what it was. . . . Things just spiraled downhill."
Job search begins
Wiegmann believed he played "average" in 2007 but still ranked among the top half of NFL centers. And once he decided to come back, he knew he still could compete. But he needed to find the right situation.
Denver was familiar and close to home. The offensive scheme fit his abilities, as did his body type. And with Nalen coming off a season-ending injury and entering his 15th year, there was a chance Wiegmann would get to play at some point this season, even if he was likely destined to be a full-time backup.
"Everything just seemed to fit," he said.
Nalen developed left knee problems in training camp, and Wiegmann again became a starter.
The team now believes it might have gotten the bargain find of free agency. That feeling is only heightened with Nalen's future in doubt.
"Having Tom go down usually would be a big hit, and he is a great player," right guard Chris Kuper said. "But having a guy like Casey, with his experience, there's no falloff there."
'Fun to be around'
Wiegmann has fit in well with his new teammates quickly and become someone from whom the younger players can seek advice.
"He takes part in the O-line jokes and things like that and is fun to be around," said Ryan Harris, a second-year right tackle. "And he somehow never seems to choose a side in the daily jokes or whatnot."
It's a veteran move, as surely as the one in which he changed AFC West locales. Wiegmann intends to fulfill his current two-year contract, then reassess his future.
"I feel great," he said.
As for the past, the nature of this week will allow the center time to put the totality of his Chiefs days into perspective.
He'll reminisce about playing alongside such Pro Bowl fixtures as Will Shields, Willie Roaf, John Tait and Brian Waters, the latter the only remaining veteran up front for Kansas City from the league's top-scoring offense in 2002 and 2003.
Wiegmann will think about how he paved the way to Priest Holmes' then-record 27 touchdowns in 2003 and Larry Johnson's back-to-back 1,700-yard performances in 2005 and 2006.
And it was in Kansas City that former teammate Eddie Kennison introduced him to his wife, one-time Survivor contestant Danni Boatwright, and Wiegmann made lifetime friends.
"I'm glad I played there," he said, adding the good outweighed the bad.
Still, he can't help it if he wants to not only help Denver improve to 4-0 in his old stomping grounds but also gain some closure.
"It is just another game, of course. But last year we were out in the parking lot after the game. We played Tennessee and they ended up beating us and one of their linebackers had played for us for awhile. He came up and said right away, 'I can't stress enough how good this feels to come here and beat these guys,' " Wiegmann said.
"I'm sure that's the way I'm going to feel, too, just because of the way they handled everything."
Or, to put it another way, it would send his own message.
|09-25-2008, 11:19 AM||#2|
lost in the ether
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The 'cuse
It probably had to do with the fact that NY was familiar with Herm "you play to score 3 points" Edwards, but still.
On that note, I wonder if LJ needs a change and bottle yet. Hes gotta be gettin fussy hangin out with all those cranky old white folks who dont wanna watch him lose again.
|09-25-2008, 11:45 AM||#5|
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Jacksonville, FL
...and on Sunday KC collectively cries themselves to sleep.
|09-25-2008, 12:22 PM||#7|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Topeka, KS
Having a veteran like Weigmann step in has been absolutely crucial to our success thus far. I'm very happy he is in Denver...