He Did His Talking on the Field

Priest Holmes put it all to rest on Sunday afternoon with his two touchdown performance in the Chiefs 27-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers. But after the game, as reporters waited and waited for a statement, Holmes decided not to say a word. After the way some in the media has portrayed him the last several months, who can blame him for refusing to talk to the press.

The media was mad and local talk show hosts were miffed that Holmes refused to talk to the local media. They wonder why he would snub them but these are the same people who complained that Holmes only used them to get a new contract. It was almost nauseating to listen to so many in the press complain the last several months about the NFL's best player.

So why did Holmes do it?

Because his performance against the Chargers spoke volumes. Columnists, beat writers and journalists who cover the Chiefs; better get used to the fact that Holmes might not say much this entire season to anyone. He shut up his critics, sportswriters, talk show hosts, doubting fans and everyone else who thought he'd never make it back for the 2003 opener. The Chagers found out very quickly that Holmes was back and better than ever.

What people don't understand is that Holmes does not need anyone to get the things he wants in life or on the football field. He could care less about those who doubt him. There was not a day in the off-season that Priest doubted he would be ready on opening day. Holmes addressed his teammates in mini-camps and told them not to worry.

Holmes hit the local airwaves in Kansas City stating that he wanted a new contract and to promote his organization local charity Team Priest.

Prior to making his first public statements, Holmes already knew and expected the Chiefs would give him a new contract. Still fans worried that Holmes might actually sit out the season without a new deal.

The press said that Priest was greedy. Others said that he was just using the media and he is just another selfist football player looking our for number one.

But Holmes was careful with his comments and most weren't listening. Do you think anyone associated within the Kansas City Chiefs front office and Dick Vermeil in particular, did not know that Holmes was going to talk about the contract and his injury prior on the radio. He would never disrespect or blindside the Chiefs or team owner Lamar Hunt.

Holmes and the Chiefs had already talked about parameters for a new deal months before he spoke about it publicly. He was just explaining it to the fans. But the press were nipping at him to say something that would give them another angle to chase on this non-story. To his credit, Holmes refused to get into a war with reporters.

For the Chiefs this was a non-issue. All they wanted was to see Holmes play in the exhibition season. They wanted to confer with their medical staff before extending his contract. Chiefs President Carl Peterson had an agreement in place and they simply needed to work out the numbers without sacrificing the salarty cap. You can say what you want about Peterson but his word is his bond and the players understrand and respect that to a man.

Holmes simply goes about his business and he speaks only when he has something to say. He'll talk when it benefits his team or other players in the league who might be in a similar position. He also knows one hit could end his career.

But what people forget is that Holmes is a very humble man and an extremely grouinded person. He has a tremendous work ethic that should never be questioned ever again by anyone. We'll never know what Holmes sacrificed to get ready for opening day.

Priest is so humble that people make conclusions about his character in absence of his words to the press. That's unfortunate.

Because its his character that leads him to defer the credit for his success. Priest understands where his bread and butter lie. It's lying, falling and blocking in front of him on every down all over the field. Holmes is a blessed man. He's running behind the single best offensive line in the NFL. It's so good that it might be the best offensive line ever to play this game.

Holmes has five guys up front plus fullback Tony Richardson. Each of them sacrifice their bodies to plow the road ahead. To a man, they mortgage their bodies to block one, two or even three defenders knowing that Holmes can urn a four-yard gain into a twenty four-yard touchdown like he did on the teams opening drive Sunday afternoon.

After Holmes made that touchdown run, everyone watching inside Arrowhead stadium were convinced that Holmes was back. Still some in the local media had doubts. Those doubters waited after the game. But Holmes did not speak.

When Holmes ran around the right end and scoring his second rushing touchdown of the day from 10-yards out, the fans screamed. Vermeil was elated. He knew Holmes was back. His first run was vintage Holmes breaking a tackle getting to the outside, cutting back and following his downfield blockers into the end zone.

But the second touchdwon was all about speed and desire. Speed kills in the NFL and Holmes appeared to be faster and stronger than he was at any point last year. That run said it all.

Still the columnists and the beat writers all knew that something had to give. They had no story to write unless Holmes talked after the game. They waited after the game but he didn't talk.

In the second half, Holmes played very little. The fans and the media were curious as to why Holmes sat on the sidelines when the Chiefs offense was struggling. They scored 24 points in the first half but managed only three points in the second half.

It was simple. Dick Vermeil felt the game was in hand and it was thanks to his new and improved defense. But still the media thought his hip had to be hurting. They wanted to ask him about it after the game. He did not speak.

In the post game locker room, the offensive line raved about Holmes. They were a proud group of men and that's the way Holmes wants them to feel. They do the hard job. The holes open up and Holmes gets the credit. He simply wants his offensive line to take all the credit. He could care less about the attention that he gets. Some of the media respect that but they still don't respect it enough.

So why the silence?

It's very simple. He is a man of strong convictions and a man who understands you have to prepare to succeed. In life, people go to their day jobs because they love what they do or they work for a paycheck.

Holmes is no different. Even before his contract extension, Priest had wealth, fame and a relentless confidence in himself. He never wanted the money or the extension for any other reason than to be rewarded for his performance on the field. He also loves to carry the football on Sunday afternoons. He is in a position to have both.

He never said that he had to be the highest paid running back in the NFL. He never unequivocally said he would not play if he did not have a new contract. He left some of it open for debate. But I think that was to get back at the media for doubting him.

Holmes took his business inside to the Chiefs and they sat down and hammered out a deal behind close doors. The press hated it. No one knew how close or far apart the two sides were until it became official. That;s the way both sides wanted it.

The two sides never bickered, argued nor took the negotiations to a personal level. Holmes and his agent chose the high road and so did the Chiefs.

Kansas City did the right thing by giving him an extension. It was good business for both parties. They knew this would be the ultimate conclusion after talking about it in the spring. However, the media would not let it die.

But after the locker room emptied with players, coaches and most reporters, Holmes came out. He talked to one reporter with the KC Star who stuck around two hours after the game to try and get a few tidbits from Holmes. He offered a few comments. But nothing to the extent the rest of the press was wanting from him after the game ended.

Holmes probably is already focusing on next Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That game might be a prelude to the AFC championship game in January. And the winner of this game will be in the drivers' seat in their own division, the AFC and hold tie-breaker for homefield advantage in the post season.

Holmes understands that. For him, Sunday is over. The Chiefs stand 1-0 in the AFC West. They're tied with the Denver Broncos for the division lead and the two best teams in the AFC are about to face off in less than a week. That's his focus now; not what happened on Sunday or the months before when everyone questioned his character. But they still wanted to ask him those old questions. Holmes never gave them a chance.

In the end, Holmes waited them out. Today he'll asses the damage to his body and continue the daily regiment that allows him to survive the brutal world of the NFL. He touched the ball 25 times on Sunday for 187 yards running and catching the ball. He sparked the offense and did everything that was asked of him by his coaches.

You know my father always told me that actions speak louder than words. For Priest Holmes, he spoke volumes on Sunday but not many in the media listened. That's sad.

For me, I just sit back and watch his actions and garner my own conclusions. On Sunday, he left me speechless.

But if given the chance, I would have liked to ask him one question.

I would have asked him if he had fun playing football today.

I already know the answer. But I would have liked to hear him say the words to me directly in private. I wouldn't have even printed it. Instead, I would have just kept it between him and me.

Maybe in the coming weeks I can hang around just long enough to ask him that question.

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