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View Full Version : Chiefs Now is Clark Hunt’s chance to show commitment to winning


dirk digler
02-20-2012, 09:48 AM
Don't know if this is a repost I did a search but didn't see it. If it is I apologize.

I have been saying this for awhile but the buck stops at Clark. Stop blaming Pioli or Cassel the owner is responsible for the stupid decisions that happen with the team.

http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/18/3437670/this-is-hunts-chance-to-show-commitment.html

The NFL secrets you’re about to read here shouldn’t really be secrets at all. Common sense, really. But somewhere in the fog of The Quarterback and passing records and the promotion of stars, we lost track of the men who most decide which teams win and which teams try to sell rebuilding plans to fans. For instance, forget Matt Cassel for a moment.

The talk of the Chiefs inevitably centers around Cassel, of course. What he can do. What he can’t do. What he should do. On and on it goes, the centerpiece of the conversation and it’s easy to miss that the most important man in the organization stands about 5 feet 9 and wears a suit and tie to games.

If that sounds crazy, that owner Clark Hunt is more central to the Chiefs success than Cassel or anyone else in uniform, listen to a Super Bowl-winning coach who will take a great owner over a great quarterback every time.

“Ultimately, yes,” Brian Billick says. “Because he’s going to help you get that quarterback and sustain the things you have. What’s amazing to me in this league is how the majority of teams lack that vision and focus.”

That’s the other NFL secret. Insiders say there just aren’t many owners up to the task. Bill Parcells used to tell friends he was only competing against eight teams because that’s how many owners understood this.

When asked for a more current number, one personnel man pointed out that only three teams have won the AFC the last nine years and told me to “do the math.” Another was more succinct.

“Five or six,” he says.

Hunt is not among them, instead standing in a fascinating place. He is widely respected around the league for his family name, sharp brain and key role in last summer’s CBA negotiations but still viewed skeptically around Kansas City for a franchise that is 27-53 in his five years with one playoff appearance, plenty of salary cap space, and a growing reputation for inner-office conflict.

The fascinating part comes now, because whether Hunt is remembered as a businessman who turned big profits or a football man who guided the Chiefs from the darkness to championships will be decided in the next season or two.

“I’m very optimistic about the team in 2012 and beyond,” Hunt says. “But I don’t want us to get in a position where it’s now or never.”

This one is out of Hunt’s control. For his reputation in Kansas City to match the respect he has around the league, in many ways it is now or never.
<hr> Clark Hunt would rather not “personalize” it, he says. His is one of the freshest ownerships in the NFL — only two owners are younger, and only five are newer — so even six years after taking over for his father, Clark is finding out who and what he is.

But he does know the franchises he’d like the Chiefs to emulate, and mentions the Patriots, Giants, Steelers, Packers and Ravens specifically.
“A common denominator of all those franchises is they have quality football people who are very smart and do a great job when it comes to drafting players and building the football team,” Hunt says. “That’s why, frankly, (general manager) Scott Pioli is so important to what we’re trying to do.”

Conversations with NFL lifers about what separates the “five or six” great owners from everyone else tend to hit the same themes. Most of them involve navigating narrow paths, like believing in the decision-makers while still holding them accountable, or creating the vision for the franchise while still empowering others.

In oversimplified terms, it’s being involved without micromanaging.
On those points, John Mara’s Giants and Robert Kraft’s Patriots are among the league’s models. Mara has been bold in trading the draft rights of Philip Rivers for those of Eli Manning — though the backup plan was Ben Roethlisberger, so, you know… — and steadfast in supporting coach Tom Coughlin when the New York circus wanted him fired.

“I am proud of that,” Mara says. “… If you start making impulsive changes, I think that’s a recipe for disaster. We’ve tried to avoid that.”

Kraft talks of enabling his managers and coaches, of backing them when they take good risks that don’t work out. He’s been bold, too. He hired Bill Belichick when most thought it was a mistake, and stayed with him after most became sure it was a mistake. Kraft adored Drew Bledsoe, but backed Belichick when he wanted to go with Tom Brady.

Kraft is perhaps the best-liked and most respected owner in the league. His players wore the initials of his late wife above their hearts last season, and presented him with a painting of the players huddled below his wife’s initials.

Kraft calls Brady “a fifth son,” and has taken the quarterback and others to Jerusalem.

“I must tell you that many games are lost and won in the locker room before the game starts,” Kraft says.

In the most important ways, this is what Hunt is trying to duplicate in Kansas City. People around the league will tell you they see him doing many of the right things.

Fans around Kansas City will tell you they haven’t seen it yet.
<hr> Clark Hunt emphasizes continuity above virtually everything else, but fired his first head coach after less than three seasons. The Chiefs will play the upcoming season with their sixth offensive coordinator in as many years.

NFL insiders say they hear the right things out of Hunt’s organization, but like other teams stuck in mediocrity, the results haven’t taken. In that context, it’s interesting to hear Hunt’s response to Billick’s opinion that a great owner is more important than a great quarterback.

“From a long-term standpoint, that’s probably right,” Hunt says. “In any given season, or two or three years, maybe the quarterback’s more important. But if you have the right owner, you get the right GM, you get the right coaching staff, you draft and acquire the right kind of players, and that puts you in position to win over the long term.”

Hunt has remade the Chiefs. An organization steeped in loyalty is now one that emphasizes accountability. Carl Peterson worked 18 years for Lamar Hunt, but was gone two years after Clark took over, for instance.

In the wake of an article last month in The Star detailing what many current and former employees described as a culture of fear and intimidation since Pioli was hired, Hunt has said the organization “can get better” but that Pioli came in with the directive to “change the culture.”
I asked Hunt to elaborate on those points for this column. He said that he, Pioli, president Mark Donovan and head coach Romeo Crennel agreed the Chiefs need to be better at communicating with fans and media and toward that point emphasized the hiring of Ted Crews as vice president of communications.

As for Pioli:
“From a culture standpoint, he felt like he needed to create an expectation that we were going to be successful,” Hunt says. “In other words, having a championship mentality. And the accountability that goes along with that, that everybody needs to work hard and do the jobs to the best of their ability.”

It’s too early to judge the effectiveness of Hunt’s emphasis on communications, though there are no indications that any major changes in the franchise’s culture are taking place.

As for the more football-centric changes Hunt has pushed, results are mixed. The Chiefs had an aging and expensive roster in the early to mid 2000s, so once their championship window closed, the whole thing quickly grinded to a halt. They gutted the roster in 2007, Hunt insistent on improving their draft selections in part to avoid another massive overhaul.

That’s led to some personnel success — Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles, Brandon Carr and Branden Albert were all selected in the 2008 draft — but also major misses. The Chiefs are still waiting for a major impact from Tyson Jackson, Pioli’s first selection after taking the job and the franchise’s highest draft pick in more than 20 years.

What they have been good at is re-signing their own players. Flowers, Charles, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson each signed extensions in recent years. This is the biggest reason the Chiefs could be favored to win the AFC West this fall.

When Hunt talks about his beliefs on how to best build a consistent winner, he will drop references to the difficulty of deciding when to move on from successful veterans. The best franchises, he says, are calculated and willing to make difficult decisions.

He is not speaking of any particular player when he says this. He is talking generally, though he does recognize that the Chiefs have the salary cap space to sign virtually anyone they want.

Actually, that’s a sensitive topic around Hunt’s Chiefs.
<hr> The NFL salary cap is endlessly complicated. Some people inside the sport say it takes them years to fully understand. Others say they never do.

Since Hunt took over, the Chiefs have operated with more reported cap room than virtually every other team in the league. Whether this is a function of a frugal franchise or one that’s built with younger players and structuring big-money contracts in cap-friendly ways is a matter of heated debate.

Here are two relevant facts: the Chiefs ranked ninth in committed cash last season, and Hunt is adamant that the spending floor scheduled to take effect in 2013 won’t be an issue.

Actually, this is the most passionate point he makes.

“We’re going to be so many tens of millions of dollars above it, it’s going to be irrelevant,” he says. “I’m serious. I mean, where we are right now it’s completely irrelevant. Won’t impact us at all. There may be some teams, I don’t know who they are, that will have to worry about it.

“But the Kansas City Chiefs are not one of them.”

This is the part that makes right now such an important time for Hunt. This is the transition of his franchise, of his leadership. He’s been in charge long enough to see and attempt to correct mistakes inside the organization, long enough to see which parts of the roster building plan are taking hold and which parts need more surgical attention.

Perhaps most importantly, after incentives and final calculations are made, the Chiefs have some $37 million of cap space to fill holes. Asked directly, Hunt says he doesn’t pay attention to operating profits during the year and that winning is the franchise’s top priority.

By that definition, it has been a failure so far.

The only way Hunt’s reputation in Kansas City will catch up to what insiders around the league think of him is for the Chiefs to win. And if that’s going to happen, it almost certainly must come now as the team enters a crucial offseason with personnel decisions and key players running out of prime years.

“My only caution is, you can never look at one year and say ‘This is who we are,’” Hunt says. “The Chiefs won the division in 2010, and they should’ve won it in 2011. So to me, I’m already seeing some of the success from the rebuilding effort we went through. I just want to make sure we don’t get back in a position where we’re building again.”

Thing is, the Chiefs are still building now. And unless the efforts being put into this offseason change that, you start to wonder if it will ever change.

Mr_Tomahawk
02-20-2012, 09:53 AM
Cliff's notes?

OnTheWarpath58
02-20-2012, 09:56 AM
Cliff's notes?

We want to emulate the Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Giants, but do it with a career backup playing the most important position on the field, and with a GM that is more worried about color copies, candy wrappers and lights being left on than what happens on Sundays.

the Talking Can
02-20-2012, 10:01 AM
We want to emulate the Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Giants, but do it with a career backup playing the most important position on the field, and with a GM that is more worried about color copies, candy wrappers and lights being left on than what happens on Sundays.

+ Pioli is all about accountability, except for the QB...but definitely for the paper pushers who are most important when it comes to winning championships

Guru
02-20-2012, 10:03 AM
Hunt is an embarrassment.

FAX
02-20-2012, 10:04 AM
Strange article. Intermittent flashes of okay interspersed with lengthy periods of suck and occasional intervals of total disaster at crucial moments.

FAX

DeezNutz
02-20-2012, 10:09 AM
Not a single fucking wrapper will be overlooked!

WilliamTheIrish
02-20-2012, 10:13 AM
Somehow, I don't think Clark is going to be a shining star in this whole commitment thingy.

lewdog
02-20-2012, 10:13 AM
Show promise at different times during the season to keep a fanbase interested but continue to be a cheap ass loser who won't make a commitment to winning.

(No I didn't actually read it, just a guess)

DeezNutz
02-20-2012, 10:13 AM
And, again, "changing the culture" is one of the single biggest farces in business, academe, and professional sports.

stonedstooge
02-20-2012, 10:16 AM
Clark's favorite song? "Take the Money and Run" Steve Miller Band

WhiteWhale
02-20-2012, 10:24 AM
I don't feel like Clark has lied to me and I do think he's made a full effort to build a team in the way he thinks it should be done... with solid drafting, retaining drafted stars, and being smart in Free agency rather than going for a big splash. It's a solid model.

He hired one of the most expensive GM's he could possibly find, and he doled out the cash to get the QB that highly respected GM assured him would be the guy for the foreseeable future. We know Cassel was a mistake, Haley was as well, and Pioli is on thin ice because of it. Clark left the football decisions to the football guy who made two mistakes while admitting to only one so far. While I wasn't doing cartwheels over hiring Pioli, it's not like hiring him was some cheapskate half assed hire. He's a decorated executive in the NFL.

He gets a bad rap because of the amount of cap space and people who are incapable of grasping the context of the entire situation. We're extending players, and we have hardly any cap penalties. Lowest in the NFL. That's good management, not being cheap.

SNR
02-20-2012, 10:24 AM
I would have called you crazy a few months ago, dirk. Since Candy Wrappergate, however, this "culture change" bullshit is clearly all on Clark Hunt. Pioli's a moron, and is orchestrating the entire thing, but Hunt's the composer of this mediocre symphony.

I wonder how well Hunt knows his NFL owner idols. How often does he talk to Robert Kraft about strategies? Mara? Is he self-reflecting, or is he just as dense as Pioli?

Methinks it's the latter.

dirk digler
02-20-2012, 10:30 AM
I would have called you crazy a few months ago, dirk. Since Candy Wrappergate, however, this "culture change" bullshit is clearly all on Clark Hunt. Pioli's a moron, and is orchestrating the entire thing, but Hunt's the composer of this mediocre symphony.

I wonder how well Hunt knows his NFL owner idols. How often does he talk to Robert Kraft about strategies? Mara? Is he self-reflecting, or is he just as dense as Pioli?

Methinks it's the latter.

I think a lot people thought I was going overboard blaming Clark but in reality he is the one that is letting all this happen right under his nose. He is the one that is letting Matt Cassel be the starting QB, he is the one responsible for being a cheap ass.

I guess Pioli is to blame somewhat but he is only doing what his boss wants.

Dr. Facebook Fever
02-20-2012, 10:36 AM
Clark's favorite song? "Take the Money and Run" Steve Miller Band

I think you just stumbled upon a thread topic there.

morphius
02-20-2012, 10:52 AM
I'm not going to knock on Clark too much, after years of bitching from fans that we need to build through the draft he actually seems to be sticking pretty heavily to that concept. While I'd like to see some better FA's brought in, I'm going to hope that he is able to sign our quality players to long term contracts and not get stuck with too many under-performing big money FA's.

(Now please get us a QB)

KC_Lee
02-20-2012, 11:04 AM
But he does know the franchises he’d like the Chiefs to emulate, and mentions the Patriots, Giants, Steelers, Packers and Ravens specifically.

And what do these teams all have in common? They all drafted and developed thier starting QB.

Count Zarth
02-20-2012, 11:05 AM
Cliff's notes?

http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lz1ni1iCcz1qzjlimo1_500.gif

Okie_Apparition
02-20-2012, 11:05 AM
With pending lawsuits
I wonder how many lawyers this interview was strained through

sedated
02-20-2012, 12:19 PM
I'm not going to knock on Clark too much, after years of bitching from fans that we need to build through the draft he actually seems to be sticking pretty heavily to that concept. While I'd like to see some better FA's brought in, I'm going to hope that he is able to sign our quality players to long term contracts and not get stuck with too many under-performing big money FA's.

well, we just turned a 5th round pick into a great player, but let him walk and signed an underperforming big money FA to replace him.

So it kinda sounds like the exact opposite of what you (and all of us) were hoping.

BigRock
02-20-2012, 02:11 PM
Here are two relevant facts: the Chiefs ranked ninth in committed cash last season, and Hunt is adamant that the spending floor scheduled to take effect in 2013 won’t be an issue.

Actually, this is the most passionate point he makes.

“We’re going to be so many tens of millions of dollars above it, it’s going to be irrelevant,” he says. “I’m serious. I mean, where we are right now it’s completely irrelevant. Won’t impact us at all. There may be some teams, I don’t know who they are, that will have to worry about it.

“But the Kansas City Chiefs are not one of them.”

This portion should be highlighted for the people who still think the Chiefs will be forced to go out and spend money over the next two years.