Gregorian Chants

January 17, 2014

Friday Five: Thoughts on Chiefs, Dwayne Bowe, Bill Self, names and our airport

Kansas City Star sports columnist Vahe Gregorian kicks off a new weekly blog-offering with a look at KU coach Bill Self, KC’s lightning-rod airport, mercurial wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs’ makeover, and more.

Gregorian Chants

Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City

Self consciousness

Even years after first being around him when he was at Tulsa, and witnessing his work, and getting to know him better and better along the way at Illinois and now at Kansas, I still marvel at this quality of KU coach Bill Self:

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone in such a prominent position be more accessible, real, good-humored, comfortable in his own skin or have more of a knack for striking colorful yet, in fact, correct chords.

It’s uncanny, really.

I was struck by that again when I read his breakdown on the $17.5-million project to house the KU men’s and women’s basketball teams, a project to be built with funds from private donors.


reported by Star KU beat writer Rustin Dodd

, Self began with a polite concession that is typical of how he’ll set up his stances:

“Everybody will have their own take. But housing, where our student-athletes reside now, is way, way, way, way behind what the competitors would be housing their student-athletes in, in a big way.”

He was concise, candid and persuasive, not to mention smart to later drop in references to the KU academic center and the need for security for players (sad but true, I think), and ability to monitor them (ditto).

In other words, classic Self.

Now, he can occasionally be less diplomatic on certain other matters, such as playing Missouri since MU left the Big 12 — a concept oddly inconsistent with KU playing Colorado, another Big 12 defector with much less meaningful ties.

But I’ll give him this: That plays well to the Kansas crowd, and that’s far more his responsibility than anything that would be fun and good for the region.

And, hey, how can I gripe? He finds just the right way to jab me about it. Since it makes me chuckle and shake my head every time, I kept a tape from a preseason media day, when he playfully began by teasing me about whether I’d come to bug him about playing Missouri again.

It got a lot of laughs, including from me — just another way he has to make a point in his considerable toolkit.

The Bowe-zone layer

Days later, I’m still trying to process Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe’s

jarring comments

to WHB (810 AM), suggesting his $56 million contract put “a big ‘X’” on his house and his family’s back, and that everyone wants a piece of him and police are out to get him and that he had “nothing to do with” being arrested for alleged possession of marijuana.

Hey, it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you, and who knows what his experiences are better than him?

The one thing I do know is that I have zero understanding of what it’s like to be him and can’t fathom his world.

Terminal illness?

After being in Kansas City only since June, I’m also still trying to sort out what I make of the talk about changes at KCI. But after many flights over the last few months, I’d sure vote for closer to status quo than overhaul because of the remarkable convenience.

One thing that best be shored up, though: A colleague recently saw someone toss an item over the open glass outside security to someone within. Yikes. That seems like a significant and dangerous gap.

Extreme makeover

Congratulations to Chiefs general manager John Dorsey on

being named NFL executive of the year

by the Pro Football Writers of America a year to the week after he was hired to join new coach Andy Reid. Dorsey is being honored for the dozens of moves he made (and likely didn’t make) to resuscitate the Chiefs from the worst team in the NFL to a playoff berth, but his impact has been more profound than that.

I don’t know what it was like to be at the Chiefs practice facility or at Arrowhead in the previous regime, but from what I’ve read and been told it had become

so toxic that OSHA was about to be called in


Much credit goes to Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt with restructuring the lines of communication to give equal heft to president Mark Donovan, Dorsey and Reid, who also did a terrific job in his first season.

But Dorsey’s engaging, roving personality and management style has had a major impact on a now-upbeat culture in the building. He credits those around him for the work, but the truth is that Dorsey is a galvanizing, infectious presence who brings that out of people, too.

The name game

In a

column I wrote

for the Sunday paper on Mavericks defenseman Henrik Ødegaard making the Norwegian Olympic hockey team, I made note of the fact I had to paste his name over from the Mavs site because of my inability to type the first letter of his surname.

It occurs to me it takes some nerve for me to point that out when I have a complicated first name (it’s pronounced Va-hey), and, in fact, I don’t use the accent in it. That’s because of a long-ago glitch in the computer system at another job that, well, attached a slur to the name when it went out over the news wire. With technological advances now, I’d consider adding the accent back, but I’m still wary of a repeat and figure it would look pretentious to suddenly have an accent attached.

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