Dec 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli (right) talks to Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt (left) before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs' Owner Clark Hunt Deserves A Tip Of The Hat


Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Tags: Clark Hunt Kansas City Chiefs

  • In_My_Opinion1

    Amen!

  • Jason Seibel

    You said it: “Even the offseason program was a breath of fresh air.”
    Under Pioli this would never have happened. He treated the Chiefs like they were vital to national security. There have been so many changes in the organization this year that I don’t think we will recognize the team when they hit the field. I just hope the changes translate to wins and the wins translate to fans who are able (I’m not or I would) to pack Arrowhead and make it a feared place to play once again!

    • steve james

      No doubt. I saw the presser from Belichick when Tebow was signed. After the Pioli experience I am finding that I have developed an almost personal dislike of that man and his “Patriot Way”. He wins but I am beginning to think he is a crook. After spygate you have to wonder just what he is covering up with his obsessive level of secrecy and disdain for dealing with the public. He hates hates hates to talk to anyone. Have to ask why.

      • Andy

        Spygate was over-blown. Did you here other head coaches or anyone except the media complain? No, because they all cheat, or try too. Hate Belichick , but the guy gets it done…period. He can afford to be obsessive…because he wins. Pioli forgot that to have a winning atmosphere, you have to, um win. Look at Popovich . He gets away with a lot of his comments because he wins. It is Belichick’s way NOT the Patriots way. Most who leave the Pats seem to fail. I love the Chiefs and think that finally we have some professional football people running the show.

        • KCMikeG

          Belichick without Brady = Cleveland Browns

        • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

          I think Spygate was overblown as well. WHen you win as much as Bill does, people will cling to anything to take you down. Still, the rules are the rules and if you break them and get caught, you gotta live with what comes next. I am sure he doesn’t care much.

    • Jim Harper

      That day is coming Jason!

  • Altarium

    And with all these changes, it feels like we have some people who actually WANT to be in KC. Feels a bit more like a family again, and not just your drunk stepfather telling you to go to bed even though it’s 2 in the afternoon and you’re in your 30′s.

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Hilarious.

  • Brandon

    Good article. I can’t believed that guy burned that jersey inside his house, those fumes had to be toxic

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Anything for the Addicts!

  • Brandon

    I never had a bad opinion of Clark or the hunt family though. I mean they brought in Herm, and let him build a young team through the draft as he wanted. And that didn’t work because he proved to be a bad coach Xs and Os wise. However, he and Carl left the team with one of the best drafts the Chiefs have had in a long time. In comes Pioli who had been surrounded by championship caliber coaches and personnel, and he trusted him to bring the same to Kansas city. I don’t fault him for that. He pulled the trigger at the right time on Reid, and I was actually surprised he did considering his dads patience and committment to those he hired. I think it was the fans disapproval more than anything that led Clark to move, and you have to credit him for listening, and giving the new regime the freedom to build a winner right away, and the Chiefs will win right away!

    • steve james

      Well said.

  • KCPauly

    Nice post Pat, and here here to Mr. Hunt the guy is truly trying, and you are right that is all we can ask for, I for one am the happiest Chiefs fan in an offseason that I have been in 28+yrs. we haven’t played a game yet, but I do give Clark HUGE props for trying to make us Champions,and showing he does care about Dad’s beloved team and Dad’s beloved, passionate, even freak fans, good job Clark, and happy Fathers Day to all dads out in AA land, thanks to you Pat for putting this out there on Clarks behalf, pretty classy dude…Go Chiefs!!!!!!

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Thanks Pauly. Happy Fathers Day to you and yours.

  • Danny W

    Clark is a little quiet and he freaks people out I think by not reassuring the fan base through media outlets. So some of the blame rests on his shoulders but so far in my opinion he’s done the best he possibly can for the franchise.

  • Suzi Conger

    Nice job Patrick

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Thanks Suzi!

  • Andy

    I agree with your article. Hunt is a professional. He was (fill in the blank) as the fans were, but did not use the media to criticize other professionals. He new changes were needed and did the first thing you should do when trying to fix a problem…gather information. I think we have built a balanced team. The Offense Defense and special teams should be top 12or better, in the league.

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      I think he did the right thing last year. I probably would have fired Romeo and insisted they start Stanzi, just to let the fans know I was alive but Hunt doesn’t strike me as a knee-jerk type of personality.

  • Jim Harper

    Well said Paddy, and I could not agree more. Nobody is more responsible for the turn around than Mr. Hunt. If Lamar is looking down from above I am sure he has a very big smile on his face and proud of his son. The biggest change I am most excited about is the attitude across the board of everyone in the organization from top to bottom. Reid is working the players hard but they are loving it. Certainly a much different feel from the Haley days and Herm’s too.

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      It certainly seems like things are going in the right direction. I think it can often be hard for an owner to be popular with fans and I don’t think Pioli did Clark any favors.

  • BurtGummer44

    There’s no turn around until they win some playoff games. Only the Lions and the Texans have won fewer playoff games since the merger!

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      You’re right Burt. They have to do it on the field. Still, things were so bad on every level that at least so far, things appear to be righting themselves.

      • BurtGummer44

        The problem is that Chiefs fans have been so easily conned by this franchise for so long, that there is a mass Stockholm syndrome. I believe fans should be highly pissed off, always striving to keep the organization’s feet to the fire. Since 1970 in the AFC West I’ve watched: the Raiders win 22 playoff games, appear in 4 SBs and win 3 SBs; the Broncos win 18 playoff games, appear in 6 SBs and win 2 SBs; the Chargers win 9 playoff games and appear in a SB. Even the expansion Seahawks have won 8 and appeared in a SB. What have the Chiefs accomplished???? Just 3 Playoff wins, 2 of which were wildcard games. It’s a pathetic record that can’t be smoothed over with regular season records, sell out crowds or pro-bowl appearing players. It’s just plain pathetic that the only team with a worse playoff record over that period is Detroit. It is high time Fans demand more of this Franchise, and quit settling for the same old mediocrity. 43 years of futility! Wake Up CHIEF FANS! On this path most of you will not LIVE LONG ENOUGH to see a Chiefs team in a SB!

  • William Senzee

    All this guts n glory spouting against “the” Royalty of the Chiefs Organization (fanwise)…., has valid points spiced with a touch of arrogance. Owning the microscope & delivering the microscopic disection is so much easier than being under the microscope…. isnt it? Nevertheless, as I said, I liked your points, moreover it would not surprise me if you supported the “Fire Pioli” banners. Banners I liked, to the extent I could say I actually loved it. That was brazen. Lamar had his ups and downs like anybody, heck what about you or I? I support & believe in Clark because He had the best seat in the house growing up. He experienced and lived it intimately. Do not ignore that. He is our age and grew up in the glory & the auroa of what it meant to be a Chief. Your passion is understandable; Clark lives it, and lives it well. Sure there has been bumps in the road, so what? The Rooney’s lost 40 years strait before Chuck Noll. Yet look at their rep now! Now that you are on the bandwagon and trumpting support I encourage you to excell at that too, and maybe, fly a banner over the last homegame every year leting us know what you think? Maybe a “We love our Owner” if it comes to that. And if not, then say so. I know you are not shy to speak your mind. So you have found grace in my sight for you have shown to be an equitable person. Shabbot Shalom.

  • Dominique

    I enjoyed this article a great deal. Like many Chiefs fans, I am dying to see what they will do this season. Even preseason has me amped up. Clark Hunt has and is doing his thing.

  • Lee

    “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.”

    Well, you haven’t been talking to very many informed people. Lots of my friends certainly want him to explain why the Chiefs were consistently $25 million under the salary cap for 6+ years which just happens to add up to the amount of the Chiefs’ share of Arrowhead renovations. So if you ever talk to him in person, why don’t you ask that question on my behalf.

    I don’t see how you can field a winning team while paying so little salary. I think as much blame for the Chief’s failure as a football team these past years rests on Clark’s head as well as Pioli and his predecessor. I find it difficult to believe that there were NO high quality free agents that Pioli could have signed unless he was handcuffed by Clark’s spending limits. And maybe budget constraints made Pioli go out and try to hire a new inexperienced coach who he hoped would pan out.

    Just like the Royals cannot really compete with their payroll, the Chiefs need to spend close to the cap to have a decent chance.While low salaried teams occasionally do well and the highest spending teams don’t win all the time, you certainly have a better chance if you are not at the bottom of team salary.

    I would love to strap Pioli to a lie detector and pump him full of truth serum and ask how much he was handicapped by Clark’s spending limits. I think that is why the parting was so amicable because Clark didn’t want him to tell any stories.

    Look at how Reid and Dorsey are spending. Don’t you think they both knew what had happened in the past and wanted to make certain that crap wouldn’t happen while they were in charge. I would have loved to hear the discussions they had with Clark about budgets. Look at all the signings, look at all the new coaches being brought in. Only the salary cap is going to stop them and not any budget put in place by Clark.

    I am now very hopeful about the long term prospects for the chiefs and I have not been so in a very long time. .