Why wait for the inevitable, right?
Why isn't Pioli somewhere else? Why isn't he sitting behind a big, oak desk; pulling the strings for the entire football operations; carving out his own niche; pulling in a salary double or even triple his current salary; saving some other franchise from ruin?
To put it succinctly: Why is he still around?
(Disclaimer here: You're not going to like his answer.)
"Because I love my situation here," said Pioli.
I tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to get more. I tried with the "be your own man" ploy. I tried baiting him with the "power" ploy.
Patriots coach and football CEO Bill Belichick, the ultimate in diffusing a party, has taught his right-hand man well.
Last week, unprovoked, Buffalo Bills president and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marv Levy was marveling about the Patriots' season and especially the organization.
"They are the model," said Levy. "They are dominant in every area, a lot like the 1970s Steelers. They do so many things well, as an organization."
Then he went off the board in terms of accolades.
"That Scott Pioli has done a magnificent job at landing talent through the draft and free agency. He and Bill Polian (Colts GM) are two guys that seem to have a knack for not only identifying talent, but convincing them to join their teams. Scott is as good as there is in the NFL."
Informed of Levy's comments, the voice on the other side of the phone went silent for about five seconds.
"I find it hard to believe," said Pioli. "It's more than flattering. Marv is a Hall of Famer. I don't know what to say."
Among the numerous story lines floating around this fall - Belichick's coaching, Tom Brady's mauling of the record book, Randy Moss' resurgence, to name only a few - Pioli's is special.
While most eyes are focused on the obvious, especially the Patriots' dominance through 10 games - the Patriots' average result this season is 41-16 - it is easy to lose focus on how the team was built.
The fact that the Patriots are so good, maybe the best ever through 10 games, would be gratifying enough. But it is not as impressive as the consistency they've shown since 2000.
Other than the "still confusing" 9-7 blip in 2002, the Patriots' consistency, especially in this era, is unparalleled.
Ex-Pats coach and future Hall of Famer Bill Parcells has said there are "bus stations full" of one- or two-year wonders we have destined for Canton, Ohio, only they end up buying bus tickets back to places like Muskogee, Okla.
Well, there are bus stations full of franchises that competed for championships since the turn of the century, only to disappear, almost instantly.
The New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings have come and gone. A few have come back, but most have been rebuilt a few times.
The point is the Patriots are not only still "the Patriots," but they've taken it up two notches in 2007.
"I think people look at our team this season and the changes we've made and they say those changes were made because of our loss in Indianapolis," said Pioli, referring to the four new wide receivers - Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker and Kelley Washington - added to the roster after the AFC championship game setback.
"That's too simplistic. Every off-season is treated the same way. We try to improve our team. I know people don't like that answer, but it's the truth," said Pioli. "Let me put it this way. The changes we made this year we would have made if we beat Indianapolis."
Moss, Stallworth and Welker were not available in 2006, when any one of them might have made a difference in the AFC championship game in Indianapolis. They were all available this off-season.
Some might call it luck; others, including Pioli, call it opportunity.
The fact that the Patriots were in position to add three top-flight players, four if you include Adalius Thomas, all taking up healthy chunks of cap space, is a testament to the Patriots' short-term and long-term planning.
Having space, figuratively and literally, is one thing. Convincing them, as Levy said, is another.
The Rodney Harrison story, if you didn't know it, goes like this. Harrison had a standing offer from the Oakland Raiders. In fact, he was on their premises when a call came from Pioli. Harrison told the Raiders he needed more time and flew across the country ... to be wined and dined at a local Ground Round by Belichick and Pioli.
Like the restaurant they were eating at, Harrison was promised "no frills" by Belichick and Pioli, just the will to win.
In case you didn't know, the pair first met at Giants training camp when Belichick was defensive coordinator and Pioli was still playing at Central Connecticut State.
The girlfriend of Pioli's best friend worked for the Giants and introduced him to the Giants' assistant. Belichick was impressed with the fact that Pioli drove 90 minutes to watch practice and ask questions. Pretty soon he let Pioli stay a couple of days in an extra bed.
When Belichick took over as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Pioli soon followed. He has been climbing the NFL ladder ever since.
"Scott is outstanding at what he has done professionally, and I would say he is one of my best friends," Belichick said. "I trust Scott. We might not always agree, but I respect his opinion."
Pioli's best work, pre-dynasty, was with free agents. And we're not talking of the "Moss" variety. Were talking, as NFL execs call them, "street free agents," which are usually minimum-salary guys.
We're talking names like Roman Phifer, Charles Johnson, David Patten, Grey Ruegamer, Jermaine Wiggins, Bert Emmanuel, Antowain Smith, Marc Edwards, Bobby Hamilton, Anthony Pleasant, Bryan Cox, Otis Smith, Terrell Buckley, Matt Stevens and Riddick Parker, all who started, yes started, on a Patriots Super Bowl team.
Heck, do you remember the name Fred Coleman? You should.
The "street free agent" was out of football when Pioli signed him in November 2001. He had only two career receptions in the NFL; his first was a 46-yarder, converting a third down and leading the Patriots to a winning touchdown against the then-first place Jets in December.
These players don't grow on trees like they do for college coaches. Some are found on Tuesday afternoons about 3,000 miles away from home.
Since the third week of September, Pioli has been on the road at least two days each week checking out college players in person. That means games and, especially, practices.
Pioli is around every Sunday for the games, but his focus is already toward next season.
"We're working on the (2008) draft as we speak. We also are looking at prospective free agents (in the NFL)," said Pioli. "The players and coaches are working on Philly. That's the way the operation works."
Which brings us back to the original question he continually dodges the way Sugar Ray Leonard did left hooks.
"I am very fortunate to be with this organization and with a guy like Bill, and an owner like Robert Kraft," said Pioli. "I think we forget sometimes to credit the ownership, which has allowed Bill and I to do our jobs. Really, it's that basic. He trusts us to do our jobs. That means a lot in this business."
It also means a lot to have someone like Pioli, who long before Mike Lowell decided to take less money for fewer years, because he liked where he lived and worked.
"There is no place I'd rather be," said Pioli. "I really mean that. I'm very lucky and I'm very happy."
You can e-mail Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you look at the 2007 roster, Scott Pioli's best work has been on the previous eight drafts.
Since he arrived with Bill Belichick in 2000, each draft has contributed mightily to this undefeated season:
Here were Pioli's key draft selections:
2000: Tom Brady (199th overall)
2001: Richard Seymour (6th), Matt Light (48th)
2002: Jarvis Green (126th)
2003: Ty Warren (13th), Eugene Wilson (36th), Asante Samuel (120th), Dan Koppen (164th)
2004: Vince Wilfork (21st), Ben Watson (32nd)
2005: Logan Mankins (32nd), Ellis Hobbs (84th), Nick Kaczur (100th), James Sanders (133rd)
2006: Laurence Maroney (21st), Stephen Gostowski (118th)
2007: Brandon Meriweather (24th)
Scott Pioli File
Hometown: Grew up in Washingtonville, N.Y.
Education: Southern Connecticut State, bachelor's degree; Syracuse, master's degree
Playing career: Defensive tackle at Southern Connecticut, three-time All-New England Division 2
Professional career: Syracuse University, graduate assistant, 1988-89; Murray State, assistant coach, 1990-91; Cleveland Browns, pro personnel assistant, 1992-95; Baltimore Ravens, director of pro personnel, 1996; New York Jets, director of pro personnel, 1997-00; New England Patriots, assistant director of player personnel, 2000; director of player personnel, 2000-01; vice president of player personnel, 2002-present
Honors: 2001, NFL Executive of the Year by Dallas Morning News; 2003, NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated; 2004, NFL Executive of the Year by USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News.
Personal: Married to Dallas, who is the daughter of Bill Parcells. They have a daughter, Mia.