Clark Hunt And The 67% Solution

AA staff writer Ladner Morse is having a bit of an identity crisis. You see normally, Ladner is a thoughtful, optimistic fellow. But as we know, there can be no light without the dark. Sometimes, particularly when quality free agents seem to be slipping through KC’s fingers as easily as interceptions roll off the fingers of Bret Favre, his dark side comes out. Here at AA, we call him “Evil Ladner.” Today we have a Double Feature From The Bleachers for you. One, is written by the Ladner you all know and love. The other is written by Evil Ladner. At the end, there will be a poll where you can vote for who you side with. Will you vote for normal Ladner and vanquish Evil Ladner? Or will you join the dark side? Be careful. Whatsoever choice you make… could be permanent. -PA

“We can not have teams like Kansas City

spend only 67% like they did in 2009.”

That was written by Saint’s QB Drew Brees in an email to his teammates.

Of course his message has an original context, from the CBA negotiating table. It was meant to point out that it doesn’t matter how much money the players bargain to be paid… not if the teams don’t spend enough towards the cap each year.

From a Chief’s fan perspective, it is nothing short of betrayal to the City of Fountains. And the betrayal is not by Drew Brees. After all, this is “the” major sports franchise in our city, which brandishes our name, and requires our monetary tax maintenance.

However, nationally, Kansas City fans are forced to play second citizens because owner Clark Hunt chooses to not go all in, at the game of winning a championship.

The personal humiliation for us Kansas Citians is that it not only bares the cities’ name but, garners our support, loyalty and gives us a heritage. It certainly has left us a legacy.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by the league, with Clark Hunt at the helm, spells out clearly that teams don’t have to “spend at least 89% of the salary cap (cap floor)” until the 2013 season. No minimum cash spending requirement applies on a “per-team” basis in 2011 and 2012.

The only current requirement binding the Chiefs applies to the league as a whole, for the next two years. “On a league wide basis, the labor deal requires the NFL to spend 99 percent of the salary cap in cash in 2011 and 2012.”

That may sound like the Chiefs are required to spend a high percentage towards their own cap but, they don’t have to do that at all. They can wait for other teams to use all their cap space, and more, and then sit back and be averaged in with the other teams in the league.

In the meantime, the people of Kansas City are being led to believe that the ownership and general management are doing everything in their power to put the best possible product out there.

This is not what’s happening.

Listen carefully to what GM Scott Pioli, has been saying. “We are building for the future.”

That’s the perfect strategy for an organization who never can go for it all. At their news conferences they could sing the song from the musical Annie, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, it’s only a day away.” Except they’d alter the words, “It’s always a day away.”

Recently, Scott Pioli stated that,

“I’m not given a budget. There hasn’t been a time when we’ve asked Clark about getting a player that he’s said no.”

W h y   d o s t   t h o u   p r o t e s t ?

I know his response came when a reporter at training camp asked Mr. Pioli a question about spending. However, he went on about it so much, so as to give one the idea that there’s more behind the answer than what is being spoken.

Also, if what Scott Pioli is saying is true, then why wouldn’t the Chiefs go ahead and spend more than they do? They have the money. The team has needs. And… the top players are (were) available.

The answer is always the same: we’re looking for the right kinds of guys and… and we’re building for the future.

I congratulate Mr. Pioli. He’s done a very good job in his 2 ½ years in Kansas City. Especially given the parameters of having to do what most other GMs do… only on a 2/3 budget.  That’s what 67% is… two thirds. Maybe he should have been in Washington solving our national debt crisis.

On the other hand… I’m glad we don’t limit our civic programs with the 67% solution. Especially people like bridge builders. Oops. Or Surgeons. Ouch. Certainly not NASA.

However, this is only a football team. Less important, right?

What I can’t figure out is, why?

If Clark Hunt has the money, is Scott Pioli doing this all on his own with some kind of secret map or agenda that led him to success previously and he’s now… working that same plan… again.

If that’s the case why do the actions of Scott Pioli look so dissimilar to those of the New England Patriots over the past few years.

Yes, there are some aspects of how Scott Pioli runs the Kansas City organization that are very much like the New England ball club. However, the obvious difference is that the Pats have clearly been willing to do whatever it takes to get top notch talent into the fold.

Is it that players are unwilling to come to Kansas City? We know this is not the case any more but, in the absence of having won three or four Super Bowls in the past ten years the Chiefs are generally well thought of now and free agents do schedule visits, Pioli just doesn’t close the deal.

Is it that Scott Pioli is not a “closer?”

When the Chiefs signed Scott Pioli two and half years ago he was the most sought after GM prospect in recent decades. So, I think that’s not the reason.

Why all this Scott Pioli examination?

I’m looking at Scott Pioli because I’m ruling him out as being the person in the Chief’s organization who is responsible for them not signing major free agents. Major free agents who could help the Chiefs become a championship caliber team that the people of Kansas City have been waiting for, for 41 years.

More than four decades.

500 months as of next week, August 11th.

More than 15,000 days without a Super Bowl Championship, or appearance.

But, who’s counting?

For us fans who have long loved and cherished the Kansas City Chiefs… and have been following them for that length of time… the suffering is only transcended by the question, why?

That will be the question that many of us will go to our graves with (having had a heart attack and triple by-pass five years ago, I know of what I speak).

Why won’t Clark Hunt impress upon Scott Pioli that it is imperative that he sign top tier players? Why won’t he demand that Scott Pioli spend his money if it is indeed true that he’s not standing in Mr. Pioli’s way… in any way?

Being cheap is just that, being cheap. You can use high class words for that, words like “economical” or “inexpensive.” It still means cheap.

To win a championship everyone must make sacrifices.

The only sacrifices Mr. Hunt has been asking anyone to make here… is the fans.

His message is ever so clear… “as soon as you (fans) sell out the stadium, the spending stops.” “Why should I spend any more after that?”

It’s not the fans who are selling out.

Clark Hunt’s real goal is, to market a commodity, a commodity that he inherited from his affluent father, not to win a championship.

If you can successfully operate a business, the same business as your neighbor, for only 67% of what your neighbor is spending, you would consider yourself, not only a successful businessman but, a genius.

At least somebody in Kansas City gets to feel good about himself.

The question with Clark Hunt will never be… do you see the glass as half full or half empty? That’s because with Clark Hunt, two-thirds of one-half will  always be the best we can hope for.

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