Don't Expect Hali To Hold Out

When the Chiefs drafted Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali with the 20th pick, many fans felt that the pick was a reach and that Hali might not be able to come in and contribute immediately. It might be a while before he even sees the field.

But Hali, who won the Big 10 Defensive Lineman of the Year award in 2005, has been impressive in his early on-field workouts. Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards has raved about Hali's motor and work ethic. It's becoming more and more obvious that he could be starting opposite Jared Allen on opening day against Cincinnati.

Although Hali has all the physical skills to be a productive player, there's still one remaining obstacle that needs to be cleared: He needs to sign a contract.

And that's just another reason why Chiefs fans should absolutely love the Hali pick.

Don't expect to see a repeat of 2002, when defensive tackle Ryan Sims had a lengthy holdout and missed almost all of training camp. Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson feuded with Sims and his agent as the two sides couldn't come to an agreement – the biggest problem being an escalator clause in the contract. Sims played a few games in 2002 before missing the rest of the season with an elbow injury.

Peterson also had problems in 1999, when first-round pick John Tait held out and rejected numerous offers, eventually leaving Arrowhead Stadium with some ill feelings. Ethan Locke, Tait's agent, told the Associated Press that Peterson had tried to bully Tait during negotiations.

"He used the ‘F' word four or five times when he was yelling at John and trying to intimidate him," Locke said. "It takes a lot of nerve for a 24-year-old kid to say no to $4 million on principle."

Given Hali's maturity and his desire to bring his mother to the United States (she is trapped in Liberia), his last concern will be a couple of clauses in a contract that gives him more money than he could ever dream of. Hali understands that the quicker he signs, the better the chance he'll have of saving his mother from a country at war.

Jim Ivler, Hali's agent, will have the dual role of getting a contract done with the Chiefs and bringing Hali's mother to the United States. Clearly, financial stability would help speed up the process.

So, should Chiefs fans worry about a potential holdout? Probably not. Hali is too grateful for the opportunity he has and feels blessed to be in the position that he's in.

"It's a privilege being here," Hali said. "It's a privilege negotiating a contract. I just need to try to keep doing what I do and help the team."

There's no doubt that Peterson drafted a winner with his first-round choice. Hali has drawn comparisons to Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, and Chiefs coaches expect him to make an immediate impact.

Peterson should feel confident that Hali's development will begin at a place that was unfamiliar to Tait and Sims during their rookie campaigns: River Falls, Wisconsin, for the first day of training camp July 27.

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