Well, this wouldn't be the best start to Romeo Crennel's return to the NFL head coaching ranks. The longtime defensive coordinator and onetime Cleveland Browns head coach took Todd Haley's headset after Haley was fired, but apparently, the microphone Crennel used at the NFL scouting combine last week didn't come with a specific set of instructions. To wit: If you're asked about players still under terms with other teams, decline comment politely and move on.
During his media session, Crennel was asked about the Chiefs' possible interest in Peyton Manning, the ostensible soon-to-be free agent Indianapolis Colts quarterback.
"I'm not supposed to talk about anyone else's players and he's still a player with Indianapolis," Crennel said. "But with a talent like that, I would be crazy not to consider it if he were available. I'll leave it at that."
Crennel also spilled a bit too much when asked about Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, who's a potential free agent and has played for current Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboli.
"You have to look at all of it and see how it all plays out. You have to juggle some balls and see what happens. Because of his relationship with Daboll, I think that would be a consideration but to say right now that's the case, I'm not ready to do that."
Both comments would seem to run afoul of the NFL's policy on tampering. Last year, the Chiefs actually won a tampering case against the Detroit Lions regarding safety Jarrad Page. As a result, the two teams were ordered to swap fifth-round picks, and the Chiefs moved up 14 spots.
Here's the official policy:
Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club's player to that player's agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: "He's an excellent player, and we'd very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.")
This year marks my sixth scouting combine, and I'm fairly amazed at the number of reporters who ask coaches and GMs about players who are still under contract with other teams. Until and unless the NFL puts the combine after the start of the league year, it will continue to happen, and those asked will continue to "no comment" their way out of such questions, or suffer the consequences.
Years ago, I remember one reporter asking Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson about his potential interest in Randy Moss, who was still under contract with the Oakland Raiders at that time. Moss' comments that he would love to play with Brett Favre notwithstanding, it was a question from someone who should have known better, and the eye-roll Thompson gave the reporter was almost audible.
Crennel is one of the really good guys in the league -- a truly genuine and nice fellow with great football savvy. His media acumen might not match up, but I'm sure Crennel was just doing what he normally does -- answering a simple question honestly. Despite his years of history with Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, there's not much hidden in Crennel's demeanor.
That's a positive attribute, but as it comes to specific questions like this, Crennel might want to ask Pioli, Kansas City's GM and Belichick's former right-hand man, about the best way to handle such things.
Of course, we're fairly sure Crennel's heard from Pioli on this subject already.