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Old 12-01-2007, 11:08 PM  
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KC STAR - Peterson says his time with Chiefs has been a success

Peterson says his time with Chiefs has been a success
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

The team executive with the NFL’s second-longest playoff victory drought gestures emphatically out the window of his Arrowhead Stadium office toward the playing field, the site of his greatest triumphs but also his most bitter defeats.

Carl Peterson is recalling moments from playoff losses, those crucial instants that turned his time with the Chiefs to one of perpetual frustration.

His point: Many of the reasons the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game in almost 14 years, since beating the Houston Oilers 28-20 on Jan. 16, 1994, are out of one man’s control.

“I’ll always remember something Lamar Hunt said to me after one of those playoff games,” Peterson said. “He said: ‘There will be people who say this loss was because of bad management. There will be people who say this was because of bad coaching. There will be people who say this was because of bad players, and there will be people who say this was because of bad ownership. I prefer to say it’s because of bad karma.’

“I know this: We’ve done everything we could to turn those L’s into W’s.”

Peterson is in rare territory for a general manager. Playoff success normally eludes a GM for only so long before changes are made. Only Mike Brown, now in his 17th season as the Cincinnati Bengals’ team president, has a longer current streak. The Bengals have yet to win a playoff game under Brown.

No small point: Brown also owns the Bengals.

It doesn’t appear relief is on the way anytime soon for Peterson, whose teams have gone 3-9 in the playoffs since he arrived in 1989. The 4-7 Chiefs lost to the hapless Raiders last Sunday and now need a series of improbable events, including a win today at Arrowhead against first-place San Diego, to get into the playoffs this season.

Through it all, Peterson has enjoyed unwavering support from the Hunt family. Clark Hunt, who declined an interview request for this story, is in charge now, but he’s given no indication he will veer from the management path set by his father, Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt.

In fact, by all indications, Hunt and his brother Daniel, also a member of the ownership group, are understanding and supportive of the rebuilding job the Chiefs are undertaking.

“If the Hunts have been unhappy with my job performance, he hasn’t indicated that to me,” Peterson said.

“We had our monthly management meeting on Monday here. Dan and Clark were here. We talked about everything as we always do: financials and marketing and sales and player personnel. We all felt sick about losing to the Raiders. Upset? Angry? Yes. Without any question. We had chances to win the game, and we didn’t do it.

“But always with regard to the Hunt family, the whole time I’ve been here it’s just been tremendously positive as far as the feedback, tremendously supportive. Their attitude was disappointed, certainly, but also, ‘Let’s get them next week.’

“Clark is a great deal like his dad. He’s not going to make an emotional decision.”

The Chiefs have perhaps made fewer emotional decisions than any other pro sports franchise. Jack Steadman ran the team’s daily operation for 29 years, first as general manager and later as president.

The team was successful in Steadman’s first decade, winning two AFL championships and a Super Bowl. It then fell into a drought that makes the current one appear mild. The Chiefs went 21 seasons without winning a playoff game and made only one playoff appearance in Steadman’s last 19 years.Still, he had to basically fire himself. Lamar Hunt wouldn’t do it. Steadman still might be the president had he not marched into Hunt’s office in 1988 in the middle of another rotten season and told him the Chiefs had to make a change.

“Lamar was always optimistic,” Steadman said. “He always believed better days were ahead and right around the corner. He always felt that if I wasn’t getting the job done, I’d know it and I’d tell him about it and I’d move on.”

If Hunt was willing to abide the endless losing seasons and the sea of empty seats at Arrowhead under Steadman, it’s little wonder he was thrilled with Peterson. The Chiefs have had their share of regular-season success and have sold virtually every one of Arrowhead’s seats for every game since 1991.

Steadman is no longer an active member of the Chiefs’ board, so his involvement isn’t what it once was. But he’s very familiar with Clark Hunt and how the Chiefs operate.

“Carl’s got two years left on his contract, and I would think Clark would deal with it when it’s time to deal with it,” he said.

He then added: “Clark’s his own man. He’s very different from Lamar. Clark’s not going to sit there and let the franchise deteriorate.”

Peterson was mostly patient in a 1½-hour interview. The only time he became defiant, arms folded across his chest, came at the suggestion he might not still be with the Chiefs if not for Hunt’s legendary patience.

“If this franchise was like Detroit or Arizona over the last number of years, I would fully expect I wouldn’t be here any longer,” Peterson said. “But this has not been like those places. We’ve had more success than those franchises. We’ve had a lot of seasons where we’ve had a legitimate chance to make the playoffs and reach the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. It just hasn’t happened for us, for whatever reason.

“I don’t feel like I should apologize for some of the successes we’ve had. I’d like to think the body of work merits us still being here.”

Among Chiefs fans, there’s plenty of frustration with Peterson. Outside of Kansas City, naturally, they look at him differently.

“Carl’s done a good job,” said Charley Casserly, a former general manager for Washington and Houston. “He’s probably not appreciated as much as he should be. He’s gotten that team to 13-3 three times. Kansas City has been, for the most part, a consistently competitive team. Playoffs can be a matter of luck sometimes, a matter of the bounce of the ball. You can’t hold it against a general manager when a 13-3 team doesn’t win in the playoffs.

“Carl would have no problem getting a job with another team if he was available. He would be at the top of everybody’s list.”

Success in the NFL is cyclical by nature. The league’s rules and procedures are set up to tear down the top teams and build up those at the bottom.

Teams such as Indianapolis and New England have defied the gravity for long periods of time. Each team has been a consistent playoff participant and found a way to win at least one recent Super Bowl.

Teams like the Colts and Patriots, and not the Detroits and Arizonas, will always be the measuring stick.

“In Carl’s situation, you’d have to say he’s done a tremendous job there,” former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese said. “They’d had a lot of losing seasons before he got to Kansas City. If you look at what’s gone on there with the fan base and the game-day environment and the game-day production and all of those kinds of things, they’ve certainly been tops in the league for a long, long time.

“But wins and losses are what we’re all ultimately judged by. That line that separates the good teams from the bad teams is thin and getting thinner all the time, but fans don’t want to hear that. It’s becoming more and more the intangibles. What’s the difference between a good team and a bad team anymore? Sometimes it’s as small as a single injury or a little tougher schedule.

“It’s only a matter of time even for teams like Indianapolis and New England. Indy has had a nice run, but it’s not going to last. What happens to that team if they lose their quarterback? They’re 8-8. The same is probably true with New England.”

Peterson still has time for a happy ending. Two seasons after this one remain on his contract.

Peterson said this contract could be his last, though he’s never said that with finality.

Realistically, the Chiefs appear more than two years away from a run at the Super Bowl. Their transition from an offensive program under Dick Vermeil to a defensive program under Herm Edwards left them without many of the necessary components.

Peterson acknowledged it would be most difficult for him to turn the Chiefs over to someone else without getting them to a Super Bowl. But if that happens, don’t wait for an apology, because it’s not going to come.

“A lot of things are going to happen in the next 2½ seasons, some predictable and some unpredictable,” Peterson said. “Without trying to be immodest, there have been an awful lot more accomplishments.

“If you say otherwise, then I guess you’re saying that wins and losses are not appropriate to judge an individual by. In the broad spectrum, there are a heck of a lot more wins than losses, a heck of a lot more winning seasons than losing seasons. There are hundreds of ways to look at it. I understand we haven’t gotten to the Big Show. That’s irrefutable.

“If the Hunt family is happy with what we’ve accomplished here, that’s what really matters.”

Other observers might beg to differ.

“We’re all in the business for the same reason,” Reese said. “I don’t care who you are, even if your career is considered a success by many other standards, if you don’t have at least one Super Bowl ring, you’re not content and you’re not happy. That’s the one thing that gets you over the hump, the one thing that everybody wants to accomplish.

“And it only takes one.”
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:17 PM   #2
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:19 PM   #3
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Curious what is with all the Carl Peterson stories in the Star. Could this be the end of CP?
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:19 PM   #4
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“If the Hunts have been unhappy with my job performance, he hasn’t indicated that to me,” Peterson said.

“We had our monthly management meeting on Monday here. Dan and Clark were here. We talked about everything as we always do: financials and marketing and sales and player personnel. We all felt sick about losing to the Raiders. Upset? Angry? Yes. Without any question. We had chances to win the game, and we didn’t do it.

The Hunts are just as responsible. Look at he order of the meeting. Financials 1st. The Hunts are his employer and he has served them well. He has delivered a profitable organization.

Where is the Hunts passion for more?
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:19 PM   #5
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I thought this was going to say Carl was quiting
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:20 PM   #6
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:20 PM   #7
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I'm sure his bank account, filled with Chiefs fans hard earned money, would agree.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:23 PM   #8
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This is just like Dick Vermeil's final press conference.

"Did we accomplish what we wanted to accomplish? No. But did we fail? Not even close."

No, Dick. You failed. Pull your head out of the sand.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:24 PM   #9
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The other thing that makes me laugh is all the "glowing recommendations" from other NFL general managers. Like any of them would honestly badmouth a colleague and put their name on it. Come on.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:25 PM   #10
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“I’ll always remember something Lamar Hunt said to me after one of those playoff games,” Peterson said. “He said: ‘There will be people who say this loss was because of bad management. There will be people who say this was because of bad coaching. There will be people who say this was because of bad players, and there will be people who say this was because of bad ownership. I prefer to say it’s because of bad karma.’

...and you can't change karma. Why even try? Pretty lame philosophy there. And no doubt a misquote of LH.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
“Clark is a great deal like his dad. He’s not going to make an emotional decision.”
Holy crap, let's spend the next 18 years evaluating the last 18 years, just to make sure it's not bad management.

Hate change much?

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Old 12-01-2007, 11:28 PM   #12
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:36 PM   #13
the Talking Can the Talking Can is offline
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jesus christ

we've been a joke for a decade and he is obviously satisfied....

i hate that asshole
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:37 PM   #14
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Herm and Carl are a perfect match....both think you can't do anything to win, it just happens or doesn't...

which makes them both losers
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:38 PM   #15
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the smug satisfaction of a franchise that sucks ass...
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