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For week ended August 22, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Wait for Tait frustrates Chiefs

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Wait for Tait frustrates Chiefs
Wichita KS Eagle (Knight Ridder) 19Aug99 L3
By Adam Teicher: Knight Ridder News Service

John Tait, an offensive tackle from BYU, is one of three unsigned first-round picks that as of Wednesday still did not have a signed contract from Chiefs President and General Manager Carl Peterson. Peterson said that Taits's offer was similar to that made to Pittsburgh wide receiver Troy Edwards.

Many first-round contracts are based on those of previous players in selected spots. Edwards signed a five-year contract estimated at slightly more than $6 million. A signing bonus of $4 million was included. Yet, a contract that will make both sides happy seems to be nowhere in sight.

Chiefs Coach, Gunther Cunningham said in jest, "I barely remember his name." The Chiefs held their 29th and 30th training camp practices without Tait. "If I had missed camp last year, there's no way I would have been able to start the second game," said tackle Victor Riley. "The first week or two of camp, the coaches are throwing everything at you. That's the time to fire the questions back at them. That's really where you learn. Here, it's a hands-on approach. You get to learn the plays and go out and do them against a live defense."

"It's not the easiest thing in the world," Tait said. "I wish I was there. But certain things have to be right. If I were there and had a contract I wasn't happy with, that would be really tough, too."

With the Chief's not yet signing their top draft pick, Tait isn't the only loser. Journeyman third tackle, Marcus Spears, played for his third NFL team in five season. Spears has never started an NFL game. "I struggled," Tait said. "I struggled learning the plays and adapting to the speed of the game. Every rookie does. They have that learning curve. I was looking forward to getting in and being in pads. It would have become easier for me. I would have learned the offense and learned the plays. That's the biggest thing. When you know the plays, you have a lot more confidence in the way you play."

"There have been instances of players having lengthy holdouts and being able to contribute during the season," he said. "I know it doesn't happen that way for everybody. But it's not impossible."

"It's all a matter of live action," said Spears, who played in 12 Chief games last season. "That's one of my downfalls. I've never had the chance some other guys get." The longer Tait is out, the more chances Spears will get. "It's unfortunate for him he didn't sign his contract," Spears said. "But it's given me and the other people that are here the chance to win a job."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information