Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO, Clark Hunt, has not always been painted in the most favorable of light on Arrowhead Addict. The way the organization was run during the Scott Pioli era was obviously a problem and as the team’s fortunes continued to take a dive, so did Hunt’s popularity among AA columnists. We don’t pull punches here and this site has never set out to keep itself in the good graces of the Chiefs. From AA co-founder Adam Best burning his Larry Johnson jersey, to staffer Big Matt’s rants against Pioli, we’ve always tried to deliver honest opinions on all things Chiefs, both good and bad.
That will never change.
We also try to be as fair as we possibly can and that means that along with the criticism must come praise.
I personally tried to give Hunt the benefit of the doubt, but the low-spending and apparent disregard for the fans that occurred over the last few years soured my opinion of the way he was running his father’s beloved Chiefs. Those bad feeling came to a head during last season, which was the darkest in the organization’s storied history.
To his credit, however, Hunt has responded.
It has been reported that Hunt spent a great deal of time last season meeting with Chiefs fans. While many fans (myself included) were calling for Hunt to start firing people mid-season, the Chiefs’ CEO methodically began collecting research in the form of opinions from his team’s fans and other NFL people that he trusted. Hunt met with former Chiefs head coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Dick Vermeil. He prepared himself for the changes everyone knew were coming.
When the season ended, Hunt acted swiftly. Head coach Romeo Crennel got the axe and Scott Pioli was put on notice that his days were likely numbered. I found it somewhat interesting that Hunt kept Pioli on board through the interview with eventual head coach Andy Reid. It was clear that Pioli didn’t get the job done and that it was time to move on but in the end, Hunt allowed Pioli to exit gracefully in what was trumpeted as a “mutual parting.” It was a kind way to deal with an employee that had taken the organization to new depths of futility and embarrassment, both on the field and off. To me, it indicated that perhaps the accusations that Hunt was nothing but a cold-hearted businessman that was only interested in money, were misguided.
Part of Hunt’s problem was his lack of involvement with the team. When people don’t have much to go on,they are going to formulate their opinion off the small sample size they are given. A casual look at the Chiefs of the last few years painted a rather grim picture. Here was an organization that was consistently at the bottom of the NFL, in both spending and winning. The owner seemed to have given total control of the running of his team to a man that appeared both paranoid and aloof. The Chiefs, a once proud organization with a rich history of embracing its fans, seemed to suddenly have nothing but contempt for anything and anyone pre-Pioli/Hunt.
I’ve no doubt that Hunt has always done what he thought was in the best interest of the Chiefs. I’ve also no doubt that he realized he made some serious mistakes since taking over the team.
What is so great about what Hunt has done over the last few months, is that rather than come out and admit his failings, he is atoning for his missteps with action.
I know a lot of Chiefs fans. They don’t ask for much. In general. they are fiercely loyal, to both the team and the Hunt family. Chiefs fans appreciate what the Hunts have done for football in Kansas City. Nobody I’ve talked to wants Clark Hunt to take the podium to apologize for the failures of Pioli/Haley/Crennel and the team’s lack of spending.
They just want their Chiefs to win again and they want an owner that they feel actually cares about what they think.
Hunt has led the Chiefs to a total 180 since the end of the 2012 regular season. He opened up the purse strings to hire the most expensive and experienced head coach on the market. Rather than repeat the same mistakes he made with Pioli, Hunt refused to hand over total control of his team to Andy Reid. He dispatched of Pioli and brought in a respected and talented personnel man from Green Bay, in John Dorsey. Despite media prognostication that Dorsey would serve as Reid’s puppet, nothing we’ve seen from the Chiefs over the past few months seems to indicate that the head coach has more power than the GM. Reid seems genuinely happy to allow Dorsey to do his job while focusing on his role, which is to coach the football team.
Dorsey and Reid are a team and neither answers to the other. Both men answer to Hunt, who has also taken a more public role with the team. He’s given more interviews to KCChiefs.com than we are used to seeing and appears to be more involved with the organization’s day to day than ever before.
The Chiefs even spent money in free agency, an occurrence so rare in recent years that many Chiefs fans likely don’t realize that the team has used nearly all of its cap space. The team forked over the money to retain both WR Dwayne Bowe and LT Branden Albert, something that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened under Pioli. They even made Dustin Colquitt the highest paid punter in the NFL.
Even the offseason program was a breath of fresh air. Some season ticket holders were invited to watch a portion of the final mandatory minicamp and former Chiefs Dick Vermeil and Trent Green were also invited back.
The Chiefs are starting to feel like the Chiefs again, rather than Scott Pioli’s bastardized version of the early 2000s New England Patriots.
Just as Hunt deserved the criticism he received when the organization was in turmoil, he deserve praise now for what appears to be a stable team heading towards a resurgence.
There is no telling if the recent changes the Chiefs have made will eventually lead to a Super Bowl win. But Hunt’s willingness to listen and to change, certainly appears to have the team on the right track.
And that is all Chiefs fans can really ask for.