For those of you in Kansas City who have been following the Kevin Kietzman hullabaloo as I have, well, this is a perfect example of the dangers of living a blessed life. To catch you up to speed, Kevin is a polarizing sports commentator on WHB 810 here in KC. I happen to love his show. And, in full disclosure, I am predisposed to extending him some grace…to a point. Here’s what he said, then I’ll explain.

“Andy Reid does not have a great record of fixing players. He doesn’t. Discipline is not his thing,” Kietzman said during his 2-6 p.m. show Monday. “It did not work out particularly well in his family life and that needs to be added to this as we’re talking about the Chiefs. He wasn’t real great at that either. He’s had a lot of things go bad on him: family and players. He is not good at fixing people. He is not good at discipline. That is not his strength. His strength is designing football plays.”

Kevin Kietzman

To further catch you up, Andy Reid is the Kansas City Chiefs’ head football coach and a father of two adult children who had opioid addictions, one of which who accidentally overdosed and died.

My first qualm is with the notion that somehow Andy Reid may not have “disciplined” his adult children enough to keep one of them from dying. And then I pause. Turns out, this comes from judgement. The exact kind of judgement I had for parents who didn’t “discipline” their children to my standards… all before I had a child.

Then my judgement of others got worse. My first child was born and he had a compliant nature about him which only fueled my conviction that I KNEW how to parent and other parents should just watch and learn.

For those of you that know the story of Marie and I then you know that we have four children; two biological, two adopted. What I learned from the next three children changed my perceptions, my outlooks and my holier-than-thou attitude. Quite simply; God humbled me. Life humbled me.

Discipline comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes discipline is a wrathful justice…sometimes discipline is allowing consequences to take their course, all the while hoping and praying. Sometimes it is a silent disapproval. Often times, a parent makes those calls in the moment. Other times it is a thought-out strategy of winning hearts and minds to have influence.

We as parents, even when we come from love, make many a decision that can be judged, second-guessed and criticized. And that is just by us in our own heads. When the spouse jumps in and does the same, then relationships can be damaged. When people who are not on the “inside” look in and judge, well, it can be downright painful.

Yet, I will extend grace in this event with Mr. Kietzman because it would appear that he has had the benefits of a blessed life with his children. I do not know that. I can only “judge” based on his comments.

The Apology
Here is where I feel Mr. Kietzman has a real opportunity to grow. As it stands, I do not accept his apology because he clearly still doesn’t get it. You can read the full apology in the link provided and here is the part I’ll choose to examine.

“I never mentioned one word about the tragic death of Andy Reid’s son and quickly corrected a caller who did,” Kietzman posted on Twitter after his Monday radio show. “I was talking about the owner’s record of ‘fixing’ players, the team’s record and Andy’s record.
“I was referencing the drug addiction and convictions for dealing drugs. When they served time and Reid hired them to work for his football teams, it was no longer a private matter.”

Kevin Kietzman’s apology

I believe, and I am open to the possibility of being mistaken, that he is equating the fact that Coach Reid hiring his kids to his staff was Andy trying to “fix” his kids and, well, Coach Reid just isn’t any good at it.

Here again, is the danger of a blessed life rearing its ugly head. Mr. Kietzman, parents who love their children will grab at any straw to help their children move forward from their addictions, mental health problems, physical disabilities. Parents will risk their careers, their fortunes and even their own names and reputations to “save” the ones they love.

Keeping your kids close is a strategy. Allowing them to go to prison for six months is a strategy. Enrolling them in a drug rehab program, sending them to a psychological facility, moving them in with an aunt, uncle or grandparent…those are all strategies.

Which is right? Which will work?

Sadly, no one can be sure. Least of all the very parents who are so close to the situation, so in love with their kids that they can not always see through a clear lens.

These parents need guidance from professionals and spiritual counselors and, most of all, from their closest confidants who they trust to be truthful to them in a loving sternness kind of way.

Not judgement. Especially ex post facto.

And THIS is why I believe Mr. Kietzman still doesn’t get it. Yes, he references his charitable work. Yes, he references his relationship with a teenager who took their own life. Those are commendable and tragic, respectively. Yet, it wasn’t his child from what I understand. And yes, there is a difference.

Grace is a forgotten word in our culture of blame and gotcha. For Christians grace come from God. Webster’s dictionary describes grace as;

d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

All around, I believe there is plenty of room here for grace to be practiced. Grace given to;

  • The Reid family for their pain that, I am sure, hasn’t fully dissipated.
  • Mr. Kietzman who surely has not walked in the shoes of someone who did everything they could to save a child.
  • To all the snap-judgments about Mr. Kietzman and the comments/apology he’s made.

Yet, I invite Mr. Kietzman to reach out to parents who have struggled with their children who have had or currently have mental health challenges, physical disabilities, opioid addicitons. (And, by the way, we are learning more and more how our government and health officials helped to fuel the opoid crisis in our nation all in the name of profits.) Maybe then another word could creep in to the conversation; empathy.

We are each blessed in some area of our lives. Let’s give thanks for those blessings rather than use them as a club for someone not so blessed in the same area of life, whatever or wherever that may be.