Vrabel Leaves KC

Maybe former Chiefs Linebacker Mike Vrabel didn't like the taste of sitting across the owners at the negotiating table or the prospects of facing his old teammates at New England this upcoming season with Kansas City. Or just maybe, father time showed him another way to regain that youthful energy that was a hallmark of his playing days.

After announcing his retirement from the NFL on Monday, Mike Vrabel was officially hired as Ohio State's new linebackers coach. He'll head to the Big Ten school in the middle of a scandal that has rocked college football.

Say what you want about Vrabel but he's an old fashioned football player. He earned his stripes in the NFL the hard way. After struggling four years in Pittsburgh, he spent the next eight seasons in New England, guiding the Patriots defense to a trio of Super Bowl victories.

Two years ago, he came to the Chiefs in the Matt Cassel trade as a throw in. And even though he probably had little left in the tank as a player, General Manager Scott Pioli wanted his veteran leadership to learn the new order.

And that really took flight last season when Romeo Crennel took over the Chiefs defense. He relied on Vrabel to teach his fellow linebackers how to really play the 3-4 scheme. And that assistance was one of the reasons so many young defensive players, had career years in Kansas City in 2010.

Derrick Johnson rose from the ashes of will he ever be good - to soon to be All Pro. He along with fellow linebackers Tamba Hali (who led the AFC in sacks a year ago), Andy Studebaker and defensive linemen such as Glenn Dorsey and Wallace Gilberry had tremendous turn around seasons for the Chiefs. And in part Vrabel was just as responsible for the Chiefs defensive resurgence.

But it wasn't his play. Instead it was in the classroom. What most of us didn't see his willingness to help and instruct his defensive mates about technique, tendencies and staying within your responsibilities on each snap of the ball. And he did it unselfishly. Because, let's face it, statistically Vrabel had a poor season on the field a year ago.

Now he's going to take Crennel's teaching philosophies and head to Ohio State to coach the linebackers. But he'll do so by joining a college program that's mired in a dark controversy that only strong coaches will be able to lead the players from the ashes of embarrassment and cheating.

But that matters very little to Vrabel. When his college roommate Luke Fickell, who was given the temporary job after Head Coach after Jim Tressel resigned in shame, knew that he needed people around him he could trust.

He knows that Vrabel above anything else is very loyal. And he'll be a good mentor not only to the linebackers but to every young man on the Buckeyes roster.

For his years of service in the NFL, Vrabel has shown that on the field in three different uniforms leadership qualities that have earned respect in the locker room and most recently with the board room dealing with the NFL Owners in this summer's lockout.

In Kansas City, Vrabel will be missed in the locker room. He was only here two short years but he made enough of an impact that, at least short term, will leave an indelible mark on his fellow linebackers.

WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What impact did Vrabel make on KC's defense the last two years?


For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com



WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories