Sports outlook 7/20

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock comes up with some clever nicknames and plays on words. His latest is Prie$t Holme$. Whitlock really hit the nail solidly on the head with this one. It seems that ever since the day Holmes went down with a hip injury in the waning days of a season in which his team failed to make the playoffs, despite his offensive heroics, all we have heard from him is how much more money he wants. For reasons not difficult to ascertain, Holmes wants more money -- a whole lot more. For some reason, he keeps forgetting about this little matter of a contract he signed in quite good faith. As I recall, there was no arm twisting or screaming during negotiations. This was certainly a whole lot different from the Tony Gonzalez mess that resulted in hard feelings all the way around. Gonzalez screamed about being underpaid, so the Chiefs' ante was upped, and upped, and upped. Gonzalez was going to quit the team and become an NBA player. Fans were with Tony on this one. He was so valuable the team couldn't compete without him. So, he signed for huge bucks, then virtually disappeared from the 2002 offense. Granted, everyone likes Priest Holmes. Look at all he has done for the Chiefs. But you have to look at Carl Peterson's side of it. As he explained the other day, Peterson said he is willing to discuss a contract extension with Holmes. But the problem is that little matter of salary cap. If the Chiefs tear up the contract, that will befoul the salary structure and get the team over the limit. If you do this, you have solved nothing. That's only one part of the picture. No one knows at this point if Holmes will ever play again as he did in the past. There were so many lies told about his condition from the day he was dragged down from behind and injured in a December game with Denver, there has been a cloud hanging over his career. If you remember, there seemed to be little worry at first. There was some concern as there always is with an injury. But we were all assured he would play in the Pro Bowl and everything would be fine. First, we were told he wouldn't be playing in that game for precautionary reasons. Then, we learned it was slightly more serious and he really couldn't play. Then later, much later, we learn he had hip surgery. From the day it happened, the name Bo Jackson has flashed like neon lights in our eyes. The only difference in Jackson is that his stupidity cost him not one, but two careers. If he had skipped the football, which is a high risk profession, he would have been in the majors for at least 15 years and would have made too much money for even him to spend without taking lessons from Jack Clark or Danny Tartabull. Can't you just see Peterson handing Holmes an $8 million signing bonus, then learning the guy is finished. Does the name Larry Johnson mean anything to you? The Chiefs were in true need of defensive help and instead of picking a defensive whiz, Peterson opted for a running back with the No.1 pick. Whitlock is convinced that Holmes is finished. You've got to figure there are people in the Chiefs' organization who feel just as Whitlock does. (Read the above paragraph over). Everyone wants Holmes to come back and be just as good as ever. But is there really anyone out there who thinks he will be? Of course, people have sold Holmes short from the beginning. The only problem here is that he seems to be just a bit desperate in his attempt to get more money. Maybe he realizes there aren't many pay days left for him. If he gets all that up-front money as a signing bonus, Holmes won't have to worry all that much about his next meal even if he never plays another down. Heck, with $8 million or so, he can stretch that out to last a long time. By tightening up his belt and limiting his spending to a mere $200,000 a year, the money would last 40 years. As much as anyone, I hope that Priest will come back and be as good as ever. But when you've been a Chiefs fan as long as I have -- since 1963 -- you are certainly accustomed to disappointment. I remember my first heartbreak. I was in school at SMSU when there came a telephone call. We didn't have phones in our rooms in those low-tech days, so I walked to the end of the hall. Oddly, it was my dad. He never called. He made some small talk, then broke the news that Mack Lee Hill was dead. He died in routine, minor knee surgery. Then, there was the Grinch from Miami who stole Christmas in 1971, the deaths of Joe Delaney and Duane Thomas over the years. There was our betrayal by the Kansas Comet, Gale Sayers. There was that long-running horror show known as the Jack Steadman years when every win was something to be cherished and a .500 season was something unheard of. For those reasons, I figure we've already seen the best of Priest Holmes.