ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Tamba Hali thanked Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and his family, then talked about getting back to work.
Kansas City’s star linebacker spoke with reporters Tuesday for the first time since signing a five-year, $60-million contract last week. The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Hali during the offseason, but there was no lengthy holdout from a player coming off of a career year.
“I a in working,” said the soft-spoken Hali, who recorded 14½ sacks a year ago to lead the AFC. “Me impressing myself is not really important. It’s about working. Since I’ve been here, you really just don’t say much, and you work, so success is going to come.”
Hali’s deal made him the second-highest paid outside linebacker in the league behind Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware. The contract included $35 million guaranteed.
Shortly after the signing became official, Hali ran onto the practice field last Thursday at Missouri Western State University, midway through the workout.
He missed only the first hour of that practice, which was the first possible day veteran free agents and signed franchised players could take part.
There was no doubt how important signing Hali was for general manager Scott Pioli, coach Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.
“Tamba’s not here. As soon, as Tamba’s here my pass rush will improve,” Crennel said last week in anticipation of Hali’s arrival.
The long-term deal made Hali especially happy.
Hali did not sign the offered one-year deal from the Chiefs and instead relied on his agents to push the process along.
“There wasn’t no hold up. The lockout really had a lot to do with it,” Hali said. “Scott already talked to me and wanted me here; coach Haley wanted me here; coach Romeo wanted me here.
“It was just a matter of time before it happened.”
The Chiefs selected Hali in the first round of the 2006 draft, and while he played well at times before last season, he blossomed into a star in 2010.
He has started all but one of 80 games in his first five years, recording 41 sacks.
“I feel like I’m coming into the player I want to become,” Hali said.
Hali spoke for nearly five minutes and again explained the reason behind his media silence.
Known as a quiet leader, Hali simply doesn’t want to be in front of cameras, microphones and recorders on a daily basis. He wants to make sure he takes care of his on-field work before worrying about the rest.
“You want to take care of the business part and come and play football,” Hali said, “not worry about being hurt and just have fun on the field.”