Locker Room Loose Despite Green

It's only May and already the fireworks surrounding the Chiefs could light up an entire year's worth of 4th of July celebrations. These voluntary OTA sessions are about evaluating players, but instead this past week the only thing the media talked about was the Trent Green saga and how it affects team morale. From what I saw in the locker room, I'm not sure it's much of an issue at all.

Distractions are common in the NFL. Players of all varieties of experience do their best to focus on the job at hand. The young guys have a few new bucks in their pockets. They're trying to find their identity on the field and handle their new entourage off the field.

The 2007 season might be the last go around for the next tier of players fighting for a spot on this roster. But the true veterans pushing the prime of their careers have a swagger about them that they've earned playing the game between the white lines on Sundays.

When one of their own gets caught up in the middle of a dispute with management – as is the case with Trent Green - players respond in different ways. Some outwardly show concern for their comrade. Others couldn't care less. Some view the dispute as a possible preview of their own future.

Most fans love this kind of drama in the offseason. It takes a bite out of the long months between January and September.

But this situation is slightly different. Trent Green and his agent have pled their case on every sports outlet around the country. The smallest bit of information is thrown about as fact and Chiefs Nation is left to interpret and separate fact from fiction.

In the locker room this entire week every member of the media asked any Chiefs player who would talk about it if the situation was a distraction. For the most part, all the players supported Green, but also understood it's a business.

But actions speak louder than words.

For those of us who are privileged enough to walk through the locker room after practice, there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere. Yes, Green was a hot topic, but the players were loose, confident and for the most part enjoyed one another.

Punter Dustin Colquitt playfully lobbed verbal barbs at safety Bernard Pollard. Running back Larry Johnson whizzed a sock over my left ear in an attempt to hit linebacker Derrick Johnson in the head as the media interviewed him.

I turned around and LJ yelled something at DJ, who just laughed. The running back flashed a big grin. There was no tension in either players face. They were simply having a good time.

This type of behavior was the norm the entire week – not the exception.

On the practice field, it was business as usual. There were dropped passes, yelling coaches and sweating players. In the middle of it all, it was clear that one man was in charge - Herm Edwards.

That respect only comes when players believe in a coach. Maybe some don't privately, but based on the fact this roster will have roughly 40 new players on it compared to Dick Vermeil's last team, I'd say Edwards has the majority of the support.

Edwards erupted in front of the media the other day, and rightfully so. His integrity and honesty were called into question. Not directly, but the intent was there and he didn't like it. I can't say I blame him. The circus around the Green saga is there because it just is. This isn't exclusive to the Chiefs. It happens in every NFL city. In Kansas City it shouldn't be a surprise. Carl Peterson has been dealing with tough negotiations and unpopular decisions for 18 years.

Every player in the locker room knows that, so this isn't a shock to those who may have sat across from him in a negotiation once or twice. Just ask Tony Gonzalez, who's been through some battles with Peterson but is still on the roster because it's where he wants to be. With the exception of Green, almost everyone else is content. They have a job to do because they know that's why they get paid. But despite the madness surrounding this situation, the team is moving on. I don't think it's affecting the players in any way.

And it's definitely not affecting the coaching staff in May. What happens in the early summer months has little impact when the season begins.

The players I talked on and off the record with about this saga all get it. For those not affected by it, they move on. For the players who have never experienced this, welcome to NFL 101.

This locker room is loose, content and busting chops as if they've been buddies for decades.

But more importantly, to a man this locker room understands Green's plight and it won't prevent them from doing their jobs until the regular season's final snap. In the end they know Green is just one out of 53, and he won't be around in September.

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