Chiefs Notes: Vermeil Says Millen Issue Dead

Vermeil and Morton both agreed that the Millen issue was a mute point.

As far as the Chiefs are concerned, the harsh words exchanged Sunday between Kansas City receiver Johnnie Morton and Detroit team president Matt Millen better become an issue of the past, and soon.

"I've told Johnnie to forget about it, and I told him that this morning," coach Dick Vermeil said Monday afternoon.

Millen, who released Morton in the spring of 2002 after eight productive seasons with the Lions, was speaking to several Chiefs players and coaches near an elevator outside the Kansas City locker room following Sunday's 45-17 rout of Detroit. Morton, saying he had hoped not to speak to Millen during the weekend, admitted telling Millen to "kiss my (butt)" when Millen attempted to speak to him.

Angered, Millen loudly called Morton a sexually derogatory slang term twice within hearing range of several witnesses. Millen apologized in a statement issued by the Lions later Sunday evening, and then again on Monday at a regularly scheduled press conference.

"(Morton) made an inappropriate remark and I reacted inappropriately and said something I shouldn't have, which was wrong," Millen said. "I apologize to anybody I offended with that remark. It won't happen again."

But Morton called the apology "totally unacceptable."

"I have gay friends and I don't even joke around with them like that," Morton told the Kansas City Star. "What he said is demeaning and bigoted. Jeremy Shockey got in trouble for saying it about a coach (Bill Parcells) and now we have a president of a team making statements like that."

Morton briefly addressed the issue one more time Wednesday. Asked to comment about the $30,000 fine assessed to Saints receiver Joe Horn for his cell phone celebratory call, Morton said he thought the fine was excessive "given the incident that happened here last weekend that didn't get fined."

"I think they've got to find some balance in that," Morton said. "On one hand, you're insulting a culture. On the other hand, you're just having some fun, and that's what the NFL is all about -- entertainment. I don't think it's right."

Minnesota coach Mike Tice was only joking this week when he said it was a "possibility" that Randy Moss might return punts against Kansas City last week.

It was not funny. In the last meeting of the two teams (1999), Moss returned a punt 64 yards for a TD in addition to catching 5 passes for 76 yards. That also was the game in which Robert Tate returned a kickoff 76 yards for a TD. It was the first and last time the Vikings returned a punt and kickoff for scores in the same game.

If the Vikes were looking for big plays in the kicking game, now would be the time to bring Moss out of return retirement. The Chiefs are banged up on special teams with the season loss of safety Lyle West, the absence of linebacker Monty Beisel for a third straight game and an injury to receiver gunner Marc Boerigter.

Kansas City's kick cover units began going south when the team's record did. Peter Warrick returned a punt 77 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the Bengals' upset of the unbeaten Chiefs. In San Diego, Leon Johnson had a 60-yard kickoff return as part of his 169 return yards. And last week against Detroit, Reggie Swinton had kickoff returns of 41 yards to set up a 57-yard scoring drive late in the first half, and 36 to set up a 56-yard TD drive in the third.

"To put our defense on the field in that kind of field position is just not acceptable," a concerned Vermeil said.

An angry Vermeil called out a radio reporter Wednesday who told the coach that defensive players he did not identify were saying they were "confused" by their roles in defensive coordinator Greg Robinson's scheme.

No Chiefs players -- identified or otherwise -- have publicly made any such comment, and Vermeil knew it.

"That's bull (bleep)," he snapped before immediately taking another question. But Vermeil's attention hadn't been completely diverted.

"Get me the player who says he's confused," he said in turning back to challenge the reporter. "When we get (bleeps) like this asking questions like that trying to undermine what we're doing here, that really pisses me off."

The Chiefs snapped a four-game losing streak in domes with a 42-14 win in Houston (with the roof closed) in the season opener this year.

Mike Tice says Dick Vermeil has been a tremendous help in his two years as an NFL head coach. Tice even has an entire file of Vermeil charts, letters and personal notes.

But Vermeil may have had the biggest effect on Tice's NFL playing career.

"I was a quarterback coming out of Maryland (in 1981), but he wanted to sign me as a free-agent tight end," Tice recalled of Vermeil, who was at Philadelphia at the time. "I was a little insulted. I thought, 'What the hell does he know? I'm a quarterback!' Of course, I went on to play 14 years as a tight end, so I guess he knew something.

"I've been a big admirer of his since."

30 The number of consecutive games in which KC's offensive line of Willie Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields and John Tait have played together.

173 Number of consecutive games started by Shields, a Chiefs team record.

1985-86 The last time an offensive line (the Giants') had a 30-game starting streak.

8-4 Kansas City's record in domes dating back to 1995.

8-1 Kansas City's record against teams of the current NFC North dating back to 1996.

"I love the challenge of playing the great ones like (Randy) Moss, Marvin Harrison, Rod Smith, Terrell Owens. They make you have to play harder. They get all the time on ESPN, which means you get time on ESPN, too." -- Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield, who doesn't want to get on Sports Center by chasing Randy Moss into the end zone this weekend. Top Stories