KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowls in New England, but current Titans head coach Mike Vrabel finished his 14-year playing career in Kansas City as a member of the Chiefs.
The club acquired Vrabel in the same deal that brought quarterback Matt Cassel to the Chiefs. His last NFL game came at Arrowhead Stadium in the team's 30-7 loss to Baltimore in the Wild Card round following the 2010 season. He started 30 games for the Chiefs in two seasons, tallying 100 total tackles and two sacks.
“I remember being a team that was (4-12) one year and 10-6 the next one, won the division, was proud of that,” Vrabel said. “The fans, I remember the fans. The Hunt family, great people. It was a great place to finish up my career, a great town, kids loved it.”
He even has one football memory that doesn't involve the Chiefs – “(My son) Tyler was a part of the fifth-grade Super Bowl team over there.”
Vrabel also still remember his go-to barbecue restaurant in Kansas City. He said his family lived a half mile from a Jack Stack Barbecue location.
“Used to call on the way home from games on Sunday afternoon and just ask them how many pounds of wings they had left, and they said 9,” Vrabel explained. “I'd say, 'Beautiful, just pack me up 9 pounds and I'll pick them up in about 30 minutes.'”
Off the field in Kansas City, Vrabel was a vocal member of the NFL Players Association leading up to negotiations for the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Vrabel's one-year contract with the Chiefs had expired when he joined Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and five other players in an antitrust lawsuit against the league.
That pit Vrabel and team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt on opposite sides of the battle, but the relationship remained professional even to this day when the two visit at owners' meetings.
“Always very respectful when he was around,” Vrabel said. “It was good.”
Vrabel also holds high regard for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, a man he considers a mentor.
“Some people say call me whenever,” Vrabel said. “I can only tell that when Andy said that, he meant it, and I have. I've called him about things that don't relate to football but relate to this profession. Called him about preparing for interviews and getting ready for this opportunity. I'm thankful that I would consider him a friend.”
The two never worked together, but Reid says he respects Vrabel because “he does it the right way.”
“He's a relentless worker,” Reid said. “You saw that as a player. You guys had him here. You've talked to him before and know the person. Tough kid. He was that way as a player. He is that way as a coach. Smart.”
Vrabel said Reid's wife Tammy is “cut from the same cloth” when it comes to offering advice and help to families and wives of coaches and player across the league.
“I know that the NFL is better with the Reids a part of it,” Vrabel said.