So begins a multi-part series examining some of the actions and styles of key stakeholders who are critical to the success or failure of this new chapter in Chiefs history.
Point 1: Two weeks prior to the end of the 2008 regular season, it was announced that long time Chiefs GM Carl Peterson would be leaving the organization at the end of the season. With that, Clark Hunt set in motion the process of overhauling the Chiefs organization, top to bottom. Perhaps believing that the level of control Peterson wielded was a significant contributing factor to the club’s long spell of disappointment, Hunt declared his intent that the new GM would be in charge of football operations and that he, Clark Hunt, would have final say on the hiring and firing of coaches.
After weeks of speculation (and costly delay some might argue), Scott Pioli emerged as the leading candidate for the job. Pioli, however, insisted on full control of all team decisions, including the hiring and firing of coaches. Against Hunt’s preference, Herm Edwards was of course fired. Bottom line, Hunt gave in after wasting valuable time and Pioli prevailed.
Point 2: Clark Hunt, and for that matter, the Hunt family in general hail from Texas and prefer to identify with that region more than KC area. I always wonder about absentee ownership and whether it can be a hindrance to the success of a pro franchise. For example, the Steelers and the Pats enjoy local ownership and it’s hard to argue with the consistent success they’ve enjoyed. The Royals never saw better days than when they were owned by Ewing Kaufmann. I think there’s something to be said for local ownership.
Let’s be honest – Clark Hunt and kin inherited the Chiefs franchise from dad Lamar. I think, considering how he came to be head of the organization, that it is fair to ask whether Clark Hunt has the same level of commitment and passion about the Chiefs that his father had? Is he running the Chiefs simply because the job was handed to him and it is expected of him or is there something more, other than money, that fuels his vision for the Chiefs? Have we ever heard what that is?
Analysis: Absentee owner Hunt, himself still somewhat fresh to the role of top dog, revised his organizational vision by caving to the demands of the popular candidate. Hunt subsequently declared the team would be best served with him as a “hands off” owner. Pioli, himself new to the role of GM, unfettered or otherwise, remains unproven. If Hunt’s transfer of Peterson-esque powers to Pioli proves at some point to have been ill-advised, Hunt has a shot at saving face by claiming that he should have gone with his “initial instincts.”
The cost of this string of decisions has been pretty high for Hunt I imagine. I believe Hunt’s vision, if he truly had one, was to continue what Herm started by “going young” in 2008. I think he felt committed to Herm because he bought in so heavily on the decision to go young and I think Clark Hunt truly wanted to give Herm one more year to continue the development of all the young players he had brought in.
Bringing in Pioli meant scrapping altogether whatever plans and hopes were in place and completely unearthing the foundation that Hunt had hoped was being set in 2008. I imagine that was both frustrating and painful for Hunt and I am pretty certain that the rather flaccid showing in 2009 might have made it even harder to swallow. That, and perhaps the endless carousel of “street” free agents that Pioli paraded through the team throughout the season . . .
Fellow Addicts: What do think about Clark Hunt’s tenure at the helm so far? Do you get the sense that his heart is really in this? Any thought that he might only be dutifully bearing the yoke of family and public expectations? Who from the region, with the financial wherewithal to make it happen, might make for a better owner?
Say, would anybody happen to have Rush Limbaugh’s number handy?