"I've known this guy since he was six years old," Vermeil said of the younger Mora. "His two brothers, Steven and Michael -- one's an actor and one's an architect -- and their mom, Connie, are personal family friends. I'm proud of him. I just hope he doesn't have a good day against his old friend -- a real old friend."
Vermeil remembers first meeting the younger Mora when he imposed on the family, soon to be moving from Colorado to UCLA, when he was recruiting a prospect in Boulder. Jim, Sr., offered his new boss accommodations while recruiting in Colorado. They involved making young Jim give up his bed during Vermeil's visit.
The Chiefs have been traditionally tough on coaches making their first appearance at Arrowhead. Kansas City is 20-5 in such situations. Jim Mora last appeared at Arrowhead in 1997 when he was San Francisco's secondary coach. The Chiefs won that game 44-9 to snap an 11-game 49ers winning streak.
Atlanta is 0-2 in previous visits to Arrowhead, but the Falcons haven't visited there since 1991.
The Falcons haven't won a road game against an AFC opponent since beating New England at Foxboro during their 1998 Super Bowl season.
The Chiefs returned from Wednesday's practice to find yellow "caution" tape stretched around the locker of disenfranchised running back Larry Johnson.
Johnson, the seldom-used former first-round draft pick, was upset at not being traded by Tuesday's NFL trading deadline. He believes, accurately as it happens, that he has little role in Kansas City as long as Priest Holmes is healthy; which he wasn't when the Chiefs drafted Johnson in April of 2003.
"You can't do much when you have an offensive coordinator who doesn't trust you and a head coach who never wanted you in the first place," a frustrated Johnson told the Kansas City Star.
With that said, many of his teammates and a horde of assembled reporters were watching for Johnson's reaction when he returned to his yellow-taped locker that resembled some out of a CSI secured area.
Those expecting an outburst were disappointed. Johnson, who reacted angrily to Dick Vermeil's ill-phrased advisement last month to "take off your diaper and play, accepted the "stay away" tape with the humor with which perpetrator Tony Richardson intended.
"It's all in good fun; I hope people got a kick out of it," Johnson said in quickly defusing the situation.
"People think I don't have a sense of humor and I take too much to heart," Johnson added. "Maybe I do. But at times you have to look at yourself. I'm 24 and collecting a paycheck. It's not like I'm 29 and still trying to make it. I've still got my career ahead of me, but that's not going to happen if I'm always fighting myself.
"I've just got to keep going and let the chips fall where they may."
Falcons vs. Chiefs Stats:
The Chiefs have recorded 28 negative running plays by their defense this season and that's second-highest in the NFL.
The Falcons are just 3-15-1 since 2002 when giving up 30-plus rushes per game. The Chiefs are averageing 30.8 rushing attempts in 2004 but that has not equated into success as they stand 1-4 on the season.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"There are a lot of negative things you can focus on in life. But if you can't have fun in life and keep a smile on your face, you might as well jump off a bridge." Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson, who will never be confused with Dr. Phil when giving advice, on why he put up the yellow "do not cross" tape across the locker of frustrated fellow running back Larry Johnson.