Kansas City, Mo. When Kansas City Chiefs executive Lynn Stiles welcomed a group of about 50 fantasy-league players to Arrowhead Stadium this week, he assumed they were loyal fans.
They may have been loyal, but this bunch was far from happy.
No sooner had a smiling Stiles concluded his remarks than a stout man in a blue shirt spoke up.
"You guys knew you had personnel problems in some areas and you still didn't sign any free agents," he said. "Why didn't you go out and try to sign somebody?"
Later that evening on Dick Vermeil's weekly radio show, it got even worse for the head coach of the 1-4 Chiefs.
"It costs me a ton of money to buy season tickets and drive to the games," a caller from South Dakota said in an angry tone of voice.
To most callers' questions, there seemed to be a general tone. Why did you make so many coaching mistakes? Why is the offense not getting the job done? Why didn't you blitz more during Sunday's loss to Jacksonville?
And, something fans have been carping about since training camp, "Why didn't you sign any free agents?"
It's a question that is growing tiring to people who coach, play and work for a team whose season could be on the brink of oblivion.
"I don't answer it any more," Vermeil said Tuesday. "The people I communicate with on a daily basis have heard me respond to that."
With a wide receiver corps that is aging and average and a defense that ranked 29th overall, the Chiefs did have needs during the free agency period.
Moreover, a number of players who changed teams were certain to draw approving glances from fans, including wide receiver Terrell Owens, defensive ends Grant Wistrom and Jevon Kearse, cornerbacks like Champ Bailey and defensive tackles like Warren Sapp.
But instead of opening Lamar Hunt's wallet and showering free agents with cash, the Chiefs opted to hold on to their own. They re-signed defensive end Eric Hicks, safeties Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley, defensive tackle John Browning, and restricted free agent cornerback William Bartee.
"The most important thing to do is invest in a quality product that gives you what you think is the best opportunity to win," Vermeil said.