Gruden bristles as Chiefs' Reid takes exception to 'victory lap'

By Jerry McDonald
The (San Jose) Mercury News

When the Las Vegas Raiders handed the Kansas City Chiefs their only loss of the season back on Oct. 11, their six chartered team buses took a spin around Arrowhead Stadium before heading to the airport and a triumphant flight home.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is a notorious press conference flatliner but made mention of it twice Monday after his team returned from a bye to begin preparing to face the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday night.

"Listen, they won the game, so they can do anything they want to do," Reid told reporters in a video conference. "It's not our style, but we'll get ourselves back, ready to play. That's where we're at."

Later when asked a question about whether he gives a lot of thought to preparing for a rematch, Reid brought it up on his own.

"I haven't," Reid said. "I think they have, or they wouldn't have driven the bus around the stadium."

Naturally, Reid's reaction was one of the first things reporters asked Jon Gruden about at his weekly teleconference, specifically whether he was concerned the Raiders had given the Chiefs some bulletin-board material for their AFC West matchup.

Gruden had been briefed beforehand and was ready with his answer.

"Not really. I mean, you can find a smart aleck bus driver in Kansas City who made some snide comments when we got on the bus," Gruden said. "Maybe that's why we drove around the stadium, to tick him off. This is ridiculous. Next question."

Now a reality check.

If the Chiefs (8-1) win their rematch over the Raiders (6-3) it will have nothing to do with a victory lap.

It's fuel for the week leading up to one of the best rivalry games in the NFL, and then it ceases to be significant after the opening kickoff, only to return as postgame fodder and whether the whole episode served as motivation one way or the other.

All teams use whatever material they can to get their team ready to go. Bill Walsh did it too, but when he was at Stanford the second time he conceded, "These things are built up during the week, and maybe a team comes out with extra intensity for the first couple of plays or series. Then it's all forgotten, and it becomes a football game."

Does anybody really believe that if Tyreek Hill breaks into the clear Sunday night, Patrick Mahomes is going to be thinking before releasing the ball, "This one is for the victory lap."

More likely, he's focused on doing his job, as will the Chiefs and the Raiders.

Makes for a fun week, though.