KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For years, Tamba Hali was a force on the Kansas City Chiefs defense. Those days have since passed, but Hali has a few things on his to-do list before he calls it a career.
Hali, the 12-year veteran linebacker, has never experienced a win at home in the playoffs. He and the Chiefs, however, hope that changes when they play the Tennessee Titans in an AFC wild-card game at 3:20 p.m. Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.
With a win, the Chiefs would advance to the divisional round next weekend, but a loss could mark the final game of Hali’s career.
“I don’t want to say I’m not going to play because the way I feel two weeks after football (ends), I’d probably be ready to play,” Hali said Tuesday at the Chiefs training facility as the team began practice for the Titans. “But I want to say I’m leaning toward my family.”
Hali hasn’t played much this year. He’s appeared in just five games and has made only one tackle. Once one of the most feared pass rushers in the league, Hali hasn’t had double-digit sacks in a season since he had 13 in 2013.
With 89.5 career sacks, Hali ranks second in team history, trailing only Derrick Thomas’ 126.5. Hali had 14.5 sacks in 2010, which led the AFC. But now at age 34, Hali is more of a mentor than playmaker. And he has taken a liking to linebacker Reggie Ragland.
Ragland, who played collegiately at Alabama, has started 10 of 12 games for the Chiefs since he was acquired at the end of August in a trade with the Bills.
“Reggie, I think he’s been a huge steal,” Hali said. “He loves to play the game and he’s physical. It’s good to have him in our locker room. He’s played in other big games, he was one of the top players in his class. He’s played in championship games and he’s a fun player to watch.”
Hali also has been impressed with the Titans, especially quarterback Marcus Mariotta, and running backs DeMarco Murray and (659 yards rushing) Derrick Henry, (742 yards rushing).
“They’re physical,” Hali said. “From Mariota’s standpoint, he’s a very good athlete who can throw the ball. Their coordinator does a great job with them. They’re a physical team. They come in wanting to run the ball and that’s what we remember from last year.”
The Titans beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead last December, and a repeat of that would be especially tough to take for Chiefs fans who haven’t seen their team win a home playoff game in 24 years.
It would be tough on Hali, too.
“I hope it’s not (the last),” he said. “I want to play four more games.”