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Clark Hunt introduces General Manager Scott Pioli

Jan 14, 2009, 9:33:42 PM

CLARK HUNT: “I’m surprised to see such a large turnout for my first update on our GM search. I’m not going to go into too much detail about it, but suffice it to say, it’s going pretty well.

“In all seriousness, in the last several weeks, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with some of the finest player personnel minds in the National Football League. Today’s announcement is the culmination of a thorough and informative search process from a very diverse group of candidates. I want to start by thanking all the candidates for taking the time to interview with us. We received a high level of interest from around the league, and the quality of the presentations from the individuals we met with was remarkable. The interview process, in many ways, reaffirmed what I already knew about the league. First of all, this business is as competitive as any in the world. Second, there is a herd mentality that dominates the way many teams approach player personnel. Third, winning organizations have a strategic plan and the discipline to implement that plan on a consistent basis. Most importantly, the teams that consistently compete for championships have outstanding player personnel departments.

“The process also confirms the fact that an NFL general manager should be solely focused on the football team. Historically, the general manager of the Chiefs has been involved with every facet of the football team, from the football operation, to ticket sales, to everything in between. As I mentioned when (former Chiefs President) Carl (Peterson) announced his departure last month, the league is becoming increasingly complex in recent years. It is no longer feasible for one person to effectively manage all aspects of an NFL franchise. Going forward, the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs will be solely responsible for the football operation. As I have said from the outset, my ultimate goal is to build a team that can realistically aspire to win championships. I know championship teams are not build overnight. They are built through the draft and the draft process relies heavily on talent evaluation. To give it the best chance to be successful, we needed to hire the finest player personnel evaluator in the league, and I believe that we have done so with Scott Pioli.”

“Before I bring up Scott, I want to say a quick word of appreciation for the Kraft family for their cooperation throughout the process. I’m very blessed to count both Robert and Jonathan Kraft as business partners and long time friends. They are among the finest families in professional sports. I know they were very disappointed to lose Scott. I want to thank them for the class they showed throughout the process.”

“Scott joins us after nine very successful season with the Patriots, where along with coach Bill Belichick, he built three Super Bowl Champions and the only team in NFL history to go 16-0. Scott’s list of NFL accolades is extremely impressive, especially considering his age; which I can say because he is a full 40 days younger than I am. He was named the Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year following the 2003 and 2004 seasons; the youngest ever to receive the award, and one of only three NFL executives in league history to win it in consecutive years. His success in the draft is well documented, most notably with (QB) Tom Brady, and more recently with Defensive Rookie of the Year (LB) Jerod Mayo. Of the 53 players on the Patriots Super Bowl XLII roster, 43 were acquired after the team’s first championship in 2001 and 31 were acquired since the team’s third title in 2004, showing Scott’s uncanny ability to build a consistent winner. His Patriots teams have won a remarkable 14 playoff games since 2000, tying an NFL record for most playoff wins in a decade. In addition to his impressive resume, Scott is a person of high integrity and above all, a family man. He and his wife, Dallas, who is here today, have a five-year old daughter Mia, and we were very excited to have them as part of the Chiefs family. Without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the next general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, Scott Pioli.”

SCOTT PIOLI: “Thank you for the introduction, thank you very much, Clark. I do want to start off by saying thank you not only to Clark, but the entire Hunt family. Clark and I spent a lot of time together, certainly talking throughout the last week-plus. This process has been fabulous. Everything I’ve heard about the Hunt family, and Clark in particular, is true. My family and I are really excited to be here, to be here in Kansas City and to become a part of this family. The tradition here is something that’s incredible. It’s an honor to be in this building, it’s an honor to be in this city. Thank you for welcoming us and we’re looking forward to getting to work.”

“This decision was something that was very difficult in certain ways, and in other ways very easy. I want to thank the Kraft family, Robert and Jonathan and Dan in particular. Very special times. I’m coming to a family here and leaving another family. Very, very special times, very special people, and it’s been a privilege to work for the Kraft family for the last nine years. I learned an awful lot from them, as a family. I learned a lot about business, I learned a lot about football and it’s a special environment.

“Robert and Jonathan spent a lot of time talking to me about Clark and the Hunt family. They told me they weren’t happy to see me go, but they told me that if there was a place they wanted to see me go, it would be Kansas City. I want to thank them and again, thank the special relationship I’ve had for 17 years with Bill Belichick. Using all of that as a background, to come here to Kansas City and create some of the things we created back there.

“The mission of this football team, and the direction is to build a football team. We built a team in New England, and we’re going to build a team here. My job is not to collect talent, it’s to build a team. Individuals make Pro Bowls, teams win championships. That’s our goal here. Win championships, win football games - to build this team with the right kind of people, with the right kind of players, to consistently compete for championships. We’re going to build a big, strong, smart, fast, tough, disciplined football team and we’re going to do that by going out and finding big, strong, smart, fast, tough, disciplined football players. It sounds very simple and hopefully in certain ways, it will be.”

“This is going to be a very methodical process in building this football team, and we’re going to start from the ground up and build a foundation, move ahead, and touch every part of the football operation. The patience that I know Clark has told me he’s going to show it going to be rewarded.

“I want to thank the city of Kansas City and I want to thank Clark again and open it up to questions.”

Q: Why did you come to the Chiefs when other organizations were obviously interested in you too?

PIOLI: “It’s not so much about the other organizations but about this organization. The history, the Hunt family, what I know to be true about this family and the opportunity. Any time I make a decision there needs to be this confluence of beliefs and values. Everything from the beginning of this process through the entire process has led me to believe that this is the right situation for me and my family.”

Q: Does any part of this seem like a daunting task or challenge?

PIOLI: “I don’t view it as daunting, I see it as exciting. It’s an opportunity, an exciting opportunity. It’s not daunting at all.”

Q: What’s your plan on the future of Herm Edwards?

PIOLI: “Clark and I have talked about that and we’re going to continue to talk about it. I had a chance to visit with Herm today a little bit. I’ve known Herm for a long time and I’ve got a lot of respect for Herm on a professional level and personal level. He’s a fine man. We’re going to spend some more time talking and this entire thing is going to be a process. Contrary to reports that were out there, I’m going to spend some time talking to Herm and I’m looking forward to it.

Q: The perception is out there that wherever you went there were certain coaches you were interested in taking them with you?

PIOLI: “This is going to be a process and there have been a lot of names put out there. I’m going to spend time talking to Herm and Herm is still employed here right and now and we’re going to go through the process.”

Q: Do you have a timetable?

PIOLI: “I don’t think it’s fair to set a timetable. It’s not about timing; it’s about getting it right and this process is going to be very methodical, not just in where we’re at with the coaching situation but where we’re at with scouting and player personnel and team. It takes time and I don’t think it’s fair to anybody to put time parameters on it right now.”

Q: What kind of relationship will you have with your head coach?

PIOLI: “The relationship that Bill and I had was personal and professional. I think the relationship with the head coach for me is going to need to be personal because there are peaks and there are certainly going to be valleys in this business. When you reach those difficult times you need to have a close relationship and a mutual respect for someone to work well with through the difficult situations. So, I hope and plan to have a very close personal relationship with the head coach.

“I think there needs to be a close and personal relationship with the entire leadership group including ownership, coach and myself.”

Q: Are you concerned with not getting a head coach you want if Herm isn’t retained? Are you worried if you’re too methodical you may lose a coach you want?

PIOLI: “I’m not really because it’s about getting it right. When we figure what is right we’ll make that decision. We can’t spend too much time worrying about what other people are going to do. It’s about what we need to do about getting it right.

“I understand the question, I really do. We will be methodical and I think it’s a very delicate balance between being methodical and being aggressive. You can be those two things but I know it’s a very delicate balance.”

Q: What is the Patriots way? Can you bring some of that to Kansas City?

PIOLI: “I’m not sure what the perception is of the Patriots way, but I’ve heard some of the descriptions and the beliefs from people on the outside. The Patriots way is what Bill (Belichick) and I brought to the Patriots. It’s about a group of people who work passionately together and work very hard.

“The only promise I’ll make today to the people of Kansas City and Chiefs fans is there will be no one working harder in this league to get it done. The Patriots way starts with hard work and discipline and creating a culture where everyone is on the same page, everyone knows their role, everyone believes in the system and everyone does their job. That’s the core of the Patriots way. Everyone will know their role and know their job.”

Q: Is the decision on Herm’s future Scott’s, or is it something you will make together Clark?

HUNT: “It’s a decision that the two of us will make together.”

Q: How much a part of your discussions on the job, Clark, was the coaching situation here?

HUNT: “It was part of the discussion but our first interview went for some nine hours and I can’t say that it took up a very large percentage of the nine hours.”

Q: The Senior Bowl is coming up so is it important to keep some the personnel staff here intact who have already been evaluating players?

PIOLI: “This process is going to apply to the entire organization. I’ll be overseeing the football operation but when we first went back to New England in February of 2000 a very similar situation existed. There were a lot of very good people in place and it was a great opportunity to see people working. I know a number of people in this personnel department; I know they’re quite competent and do a good job.

“What I’ve got to do is get caught up to speed with them and see what they’re doing and what they’ve done. I’ve got some information that I’ve gathered previously and now I’ve got to get caught up with them and help make decisions that we’re going to be making in April. We need to get on the same page and this will begin tomorrow actually.”

Q: How do you build a team, through the draft or free agency or a combination?

PIOLI: “I think the process begins by getting a better grasp on the talent that is here. We will be multi-tasking at the Senior Bowl and as we do our college evaluation. I want to get a better grasp on this football team and know these players that are here.

“I believe strongly in the draft. It’s the backbone of your football team. I also believe that in certain situations depending on opportunity and need you can complement and supplement your roster with free agency. Clark and I talked about this. There was one year where we signed 21 free agents in part of the 2001 season and then there were years where we signed a smaller number of free agents. In 2001 I think we spent only a total of $2.5 million in signing bonuses. Then there were other years where we had a different cap situation and a different cash flow situation and approached it differently.”

Q: What’s been your experience playing against a Herm Edwards team?

PIOLI: “The first thing that jumps out to me with a Herm Edwards team is how hard they play. Herm’s players play hard. They play hard for him; they play hard for themselves. I’ve known Herm for quite for some time, not only as a competitor but have a good personal relationship with him. Herm’s players play hard. That’s one of the things I really respect about Herm and he coaches with a great deal of passion. I believe in passion. These jobs take too much time and too much energy. If you’re not going to be passionate you probably need to something else.”

Q: Are there similarities with this team and your first Patriots team?

PIOLI: “Not really, quite honestly. The team when we got to New England was 9-7 I think. They were a veteran football team and they were in deep cap trouble, close to 10 and a half million dollars over the cap. This situation is very different here. There is more cap space here and it’s a much younger football team. So in my mind it is not very similar.”

Q: Which is more attractive?

PIOLI: “Every situation is different. To me, it’s a challenge and a challenge is a challenge.”

Q: Was the relationship with Bill Belichick a complete collaboration on personnel or did one person have the final say?

PIOLI: “Bill had final say in everything. However, it was a true collaboration. I’m not sure I can think of many players that ever came into the program that Bill and I didn’t completely agree on. If there was a disagreement the respect for the other person led us away from that player. It was one of the very unique experiences that I’ve had. There was never a battle over ego.”

Q: What is your opinion of the Chiefs having seen the team first-hand this season?

PIOLI: “We saw them early in the season. I know over the course of the season they went through a number of quarterbacks. They went through one of our quarterbacks. With the talent obviously there needs to be some changes on the football team. With the way the team performed there needs to be changes.

“But I’ll say this though. Every season is different and every team regardless of the record is going to have natural attrition. There are going to be things that change on their own and things you need to change. There is going to be a transition.”

Q: How do you see the quarterback situation here?

PIOLI: “There is no other Tom Brady and quite honestly there is no other Matt Cassell. They are special football players and special human beings. The quarterback evaluation is going to be part of the process. I know this football team from afar; I don’t know this football team from inside the building. If you see certain players do things on the field and you don’t know what they’re being asked to do and what they’re supposed to be doing, what’s going on, what’s the adjustments are or whatever, you can’t do a true evaluation

“That’s a big part of what needs to go on over the next days and weeks, sitting with the coaches and finding out what players were supposed to do and then finding out how they did it.”

Q: Do you have a preference whether Herm stays or goes?

HUNT: “I told Scott coming into the situation I have an open mind and I think he has an open mind.”

Q: What was it about this particular situation that drew you here?

PIOLI: “There are professional reasons and there are personal reasons. I think we go through different seasons of life and different changes in life. I happen to be in one right now with a five-year old daughter and knowing where I’m going to be taking my family is very important to me. I can go anywhere and work and I’m going to be immersed in an environment where I’m taken care of.

“I think it’s very important that I’m bringing my wife and daughter to a place that I know is going to be a good place for them, a place that’s a wonderful place to raise our daughter. I know this community. My wife was born in Wichita and her mother’s side of the family is from Wichita. A great deal of her family is still there and some in Kansas City. We have spent time in this area and we like the area and the community that we live in is very important to us. I’m giving you some of the personal reasons and we’re looking forward to becoming part of this community.”

Q: Is this about doing it without Bill? Is that the challenge?

PIOLI: “It’s not about that because Bill and I are friends. I want them to continue to succeed up there. It’s not about me, my ego. It’s about the right time and the right situation, a confluence of a lot of different things at this point in my life. I see this as a significant challenge and I like challenges and I love competition. You don’t jump into a competition without understanding a lot of the dynamics around you. Bill and I are still very close friends and I want to see the New England Patriots succeed until we play them.”

Q: You guys don’t seem to matter if a player is in their 30s or over, which would seem to fly in the face of Herm Edwards who would prefer young guys.

PIOLI: “I’m not sure what Herm’s philosophy is in building a team or constructing a team. I know what I believe in and I’ll hear what Herm thinks. I know Herm’s been around enough teams that have been successful and gone to playoffs. He knows something about players and winning games.”

Q: What are the first things you do in building a team?

PIOLI: “It’s not necessarily the best 53 players it’s the right 53 players. It’s bringing in football players who understand the culture that’s been created or is being created. It’s the personnel department and myself finding the players, knowing who the head coach is, what he is, what he stands for. Finding the players that can live within what the structure is going to be. What we will do is build a big, strong, fast, disciplined, smart football team. Those aren’t just words. We will have smart football players, tough football players, mentally and physically. We will have disciplined football players and discipline has nothing to do with the length of their hair or how many gold chains they wear. Discipline has to do with being on time, working hard, and paying attention. That’s the kind of staff we’re going to have, what our entire football operation is going to be.”

Q: What message do you want to send to season ticket holders?

PIOLI: “What I said earlier, I will work tirelessly to get this done and do everything in every waking hour. That’s my job and the only promise I can make.”

Q: When you saw this team play is this team that far away?

PIOLI: “I don’t think it’s fair for me to make a judgment until I know more about this football team. Until you’re in the building and know the players and what they are, it’s unfair to set any time frame. It’s something you’ll rarely hear from me. I don’t think you’re ever one or two players away. We’re not building just for 2009. The goal is to build a team that has a long shelf life of being a good football team.”

Q: Do you look forward to drafting the third pick this year?

PIOLI: “Every single pick is an important pick. Looking at the big picture Richard Seymour (in New England) was an important pick at number six because of the financial dynamic, and Tom Brady who was 199th pick was a pretty important pick too.”

Q: What do you believe are the qualities and characteristics of a true evaluator?

PIOLI: “At different levels, the personnel department has some people who are information gatherers, certain people are evaluators and certain people can do both things. The most important thing in being an evaluator is the ability to gather good and accurate information. You need to understand the background of the player, who and what he is and then you go through the process of evaluating the talent and the ability.

“A core belief I have about football players is you must watch them play football on tape and watching them practice. I understand and respect height, weight and speed and numbers at the (Scouting) Combine and workouts but what we’re putting out there on the field on Sundays are football players.

Q: Do personality and makeup matter?

PIOLI: “Personality and makeup and the ability to play football. My job is build a football team not simply find talent.”

Q: Will you have a director of player personnel or will it be you?

PIOLI: “What titles are I’m not sure. Truthfully, I’m not very big on titles and I’m not even sure what my title was the years in New England. There will be people at different levels of authority and different people supporting.”

Q: Do you have a gentlemen’s agreement about taking people from New England and bringing them here?

PIOLI: “There is a respect between the organizations. I care about those people too much and respect them.”

Q: What’s your public persona going to be? How active outside are you going to be?

PIOLI: “Here’s what I believe: I believe that the main voice of the organization has to be the head coach. The head coach is the leader of the football that plays on Sunday. There will be times and places for me to be involved with the media. There will be pre-draft and post-draft and times that will be appropriate.”

Q: Will Clark have final say on trades and such?

PIOLI: “Clark will be aware of everything that we do in the football operation. That’s the culture I come from.”