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Chairman of The Board Clark Hunt Press Conference

Dec 15, 2008, 9:11:12 PM

On resignation of Carl Peterson

Q: My question would be why and why now?

CLARK HUNT: “Earlier this afternoon I announced that Carl Peterson would be stepping down as president, general manager and CEO at the end of the 2008 football season. It’s a conversation that he and I have had ongoing throughout the season in terms of 2009 and we both jointly decided that the best interests of the club were served if he stepped down at this point to allow me the opportunity to get the search going right away for the new GM.”

Q: Was Carl Peterson fired or resigned?

HUNT: “Carl and I had an ongoing dialogue throughout the season about his future as we approached 2009 and it was really a joint decision that now was the right time to announce that he was stepping down at the end of the year. He understood that I need to get the search for a new GM going right away. It was really a continuation of some discussions we’ve had throughout the season on his role with the club in 2009.”

Q: Was there any urgency with the fan attendance recently dwindling?

HUNT: “That really didn’t play into the decision. Obviously, we’re interested in building a championship team here and I know that our fans will respond to a winning football team. The decision was really guided by the fact that now is the time that we need to start the search for the GM of the future.”

Q: Is it going to be three different people or is somebody going to hold the same position as Carl did?

HUNT: “I do anticipate that we will have a different organizational structure going forward. I’ll separate the business and football sides of the organization and my search at this point will be just for a general manager.”

Q: Is Carl Peterson’s time with the Chiefs then entirely over?

HUNT: “Carl will be relinquishing all three titles and from a go-forward standpoint I plan to break the business side and the football side of the organization down and have someone in the GM position who focuses solely on the football team and to have the business side handled by other people. Although I am sure that I will periodically have contact with Carl he will not have any title or responsibility with the Chiefs.”

Q: Carl will have no management responsibilities as of now?

HUNT: “As of the end of the football season, so effectively two weeks from now he’ll have no ties to the organization.”

Q: Generally, so he will still be around the rest of the year?

HUNT: “Yes, that’s exactly right and in addition he’ll be working on the transition. I’ve asked (Assistant GM) Denny Thum to serve as interim president and general manager and when Carl steps down at the end of the year he’ll assume those responsibilities. Carl will be helping get him ready.”

Q: So you’re looking for a couple of people at this point?

HUNT: “Certainly I have a couple of positions to fill and it’s possible I’ll end up filling the business side internally but that’s a decision I’m going to make at a later date. It’s imperative that I get the search for the new GM underway right away given that there are going to be other teams out there also looking for GM’s as well.”

Q: You said this has been an ongoing conversation but did it come to a head at some point? Why not wait until the end of the season?

HUNT: “Well, the most important thing from a timing standpoint is that I do want to get the search underway right now. There will be a number of other teams who are also searching for GM’s and I don’t want to get behind them. It really didn’t come to a head. It’s a conversation we’ve had throughout the season and we both jointly decided now was the right time. It was a decision we had both arrived together and he was very supportive.”

Q: Was there a final straw?

HUNT: “There really wasn’t a final straw in this case although the loss yesterday was gut-wrenching and very disappointing. But it had no bearing on the decision. This was one that was really made from a long-range standpoint. We’ve got some decisions to make about the football team and the coaching staff for next year and I’m going to go ahead and get the new GM on board so he can help me make these decisions.”

Q: So the new GM will have something to do with whether the coaching staff is retained?

HUNT: “I do expect the new GM to have significant input into that decision. I want to move as quickly as possible to get the new GM on board. To some degree, the timing will be guided by the folks that will be interviewing. Some of them will be with playoff teams and I may not be able to interview them right away.”

Q: How do you reflect back on the leadership that Carl has provided over his time here?

HUNT: “Carl’s legacy with the Kansas City Chiefs is really a tremendous one. He helped turn the franchise into a consistent winner again in the ‘90s. He built one of the most respected franchises in the entire NFL. He really set the bar for community involvement both for the organization and for the players. He’s done an outstanding job for our family and the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans.”

Q: What’s Herm Edwards’ status?

HUNT: “I had a chance to speak with Herm this afternoon and I told him I’m very supportive of the job that he’s done to this point and the approach that he’s taken in rebuilding the football team. A decision on his future will be one that we will make in the off-season. It’s something that I expect a new general manager will have input in although the final decision will be mine.”

Q: So you can’t say for certain that Herm will be coaching the Chiefs next year?

HUNT: “No, I think the best thing for the organization is to wait until we have the new GM on board and make that evaluation at that time.”

Q: You said earlier that you thought that Herm was the right coach to lead the rebuilding process here. Has your opinion changed?

HUNT: “No it really hasn’t. True to his word, he has given the young players a chance to play and it’s been gratifying to watch them develop. Now, he’s as disappointed as anybody that we haven’t turned more of those close games into wins. But I continue to think he’s the right person both to have led us through this process and going forward I think he would do a good job as well.”

Q: Herm would be in the last year of his contract next season. If the decision is made to retain him will his contract be extended?

HUNT: “That again is a decision we haven’t made at this point. It’s something that I would want the new general manager’s input in. It gets back to the importance of the timing in making the announcement.”

Q: It would appear if the decision not to retain Herm is made that all this franchise has gone through in rebuilding has been for nothing these last two seasons.

HUNT: “Philosophically it is likely that I will hire a new GM who shares the same vision for how this football team should be built on a long-term basis. That’s one that focuses on young players through the draft. Without commenting specifically on Herm’s situation, I don’t expect that the change in the GM will change the direction that we’re headed in and how we’re trying to build the team that we started in earnest a couple of years ago. I want to make sure we don’t derail what we’ve done to this point because if you look at the league the franchises that struggle to be winners on a consistent basis are ones that are reactionary and that will pursue a direction for two or three years and then because they haven’t had the success they would like they change and go in a different direction. You then get a lot of turnover in your coaches and your players and that lack of continuity doesn’t give you a chance to win.”

Q: What are you looking for as far as a replacement for Carl?

HUNT: “First and foremost I will be looking for someone who is a shrewd evaluator of football talent. Their job will be 24/7 to think about the football team. That will be their most important quality. I would also like somebody who has had experience helping build a winning football team. I want somebody who is a strong leader and an effective communicator and somebody who culturally will blend in with the Kansas City Chiefs.”

Q: Is it someone who you will look for who will have ties to this organization?

HUNT: “No, not at all. I expect that the successful candidate will come from outside of the organization. I think it’s important that we get a fresh set of eyes on the football team and the coaching staff. So, I’ll really be focusing my search on people who don’t have ties with the Chiefs. I do not anticipate that anybody from the team will be a candidate for the position.”

Q: You have spoken highly of (VP of Player Personnel) Bill Kuharich and particularly how he works with Herm. Why would Bill not be a candidate?

HUNT: “I do continue to believe that Bill is a good evaluator of football talent and hope that he will continue with the organization. I just think at this point it’s important for us to have a fresh set of eyes on the organization and that can only be accomplished by bringing in someone from the outside.”

Q: Would you be comfortable giving somebody their first GM job who was part of a winning organization or prefer somebody who’s done it before?

HUNT: “I really don’t have a preference one way or the other. I’m going to interview a very broad group of candidates. Probably during the interview process I’ll develop a bias as I go along. But I think our interests are best served to be very open-minded going into the process and talk to as many people as possible.”

Q: Have you any timetable?

HUNT: “I don’t have a specific timetable although I want to move as quickly as possible. Part of the impetus for making the announcement today is so that I can get out there and get the interviewing process underway. There will be a couple of other teams who will be looking for a general manager and I want to be sure that I don’t get behind them.

“I do have to get permission from the clubs to interview the candidates that I will be interested in. They’re not required to give me that permission until they have been eliminated from the playoffs, so that will have a bearing on the time of the interviews. But in terms of getting organized there is a lot I need to do over the next couple of weeks so I’m in a position to move.”

Q: Do you think if this team was looking at a 10-win season at this point in the year we would be having this meeting now?

HUNT: “Really, this decision and the announcement today is one that’s made with the best long-term interest of the Chiefs. Clearly, if we were heading into a playoff scenario the timing of the announcement might have been a little bit different.”

Q: Do you think it would have happened at all if you were a playoff team?

HUNT: “Carl was entering the last year of his contract and we had talked earlier in the year that we were going to need to do something either going into the 2009 season or early in the 2009 season. I don’t think the record has any impact.

“At the time Carl signed the contract that he has been working under three years ago he mentioned to me that he planned to retire at the end of that contract. Clearly, we were entering the later stages of that contract. Our head coach and frankly our entire coaching staff have contracts that go through next year so really the timing was dictated to some degree by the need to focus on the coaching staff.”

Q: Can you talk about how the conversation with Carl went down?

HUNT: “Carl, as has always been the case with him at least in my interaction, is about what’s best for the organization. We have had a lot of those discussions over the course of the year and with our coaching staff coming into the last year of their contracts he understood the right decision for an organizational standpoint was to go ahead and make the announcement now. He was very professional and very much in agreement that this was the right thing to do.”

Q: You indicated Carl felt the time was right, why did you feel the time was right for a general manager?

HUNT: “I think it ties back to our rebuilding process. We’ve got some important decisions to make: first and foremost, with our coaching staff as we enter 2009, and then secondly as we continue to draft young players and continue on the path of rebuilding to first having a team that’s capable of making the playoffs.”

Q: You said earlier this year that Carl was doing a good job. Did something happen to change the opinion of the job Carl was doing?

HUNT: “The timing of the decision and announcement were really about doing what is best for 2009 and beyond.”

Q: Do you regret not making the change last winter?

HUNT: “Not at all. I felt that really our best chance of being successful this year was to have stability in the front office. I thought that was the best thing for Herm and the rest of the coaching staff. Although we’ve not been as successful as any of us would have liked on the football field I still think that’s the right decision.”

Q: Talk about your own emotions in this situation?

HUNT: “Any time you part ways with somebody you’re fond of it’s a very emotional time. I have a tremendous respect for Carl and a tremendous amount of gratitude for what he’s done for our family and the Chiefs organization. In some ways it’s like saying goodbye to a family member. Carl in a lot of ways has been a mentor for me in the time I’ve been around the Chiefs. I’ve learned quite a bit from him and know I will miss him.”

Q: A lot of people will assume that yesterday’s game had something to do with this announcement. Is that valid? Or was it all leading up to this day?

HUNT: “As easy as it would be to assume that yesterday’s game had a role it had none whatsoever. This is one that is really made for the long term and for the best interests of the club.”

Q: Was a public clamoring for Carl’s dismissal any factor?

HUNT: “No, it really wasn’t at all. I think the general manager of any professional football team has to be one of the most difficult positions and there are certainly going to be periods of time when you’re out of step with your fans. But from my standpoint in terms of making the decision for what’s best for the team in the long-term the fans didn’t have a role in.”

Q: This ends the Carl Peterson era and begins the Clark Hunt era. This is your first major decision. Have you thought about that?

HUNT: “I really haven’t thought about it in those terms. My focus has been on making decisions that give us a chance to be competitive again and aspire to be a championship team. At some point I’ll probably step back and sort of think about the implications but it’ll start building a new era for our new GM and that’s maybe a more appropriate way to look at the change.”

Q: Has it surprised you that the team’s improvement has not been faster?

HUNT: “I think I’ve heard Herm say that he knew it was going to be hard; he just didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I think I would echo those sentiments. Clearly, we’ve had three or four games that we could have or should have won. In the NFL that doesn’t get you much because, to some degree, you are what your record says you are.

“So, yes it has been harder and it has been disappointing. At the same time there have been a lot of positives throughout the season like watching some of the young players emerge. I look forward to seeing them grow.”

Related:
Clark Hunt Announces the Resignation of Carl Peterson