Nobody Has Pressure Like Carl Peterson

It's clear the Chiefs did a remarkable job of acquiring players for positions in need of upgrades. They looked long and hard, and found players with both the talent and the leadership qulaities this team needed to reinstill the sense of pride that surrounds the Kansas City Chiefs. The organization has found players who are willing to step up and be accountable for turning around the dismal season of just a year ago.

At the onset of preparing for our summer issue of Warpaint Illustrated, everyone associated with the magazine and the website rode a roller coaster of emotions. The Kansas City Chiefs ran through a pair of obstacle courses: the NFL Free Agency period and the NFL Draft both had fans on the edge of their seats.

The thing that stuck in everyone's mind was the season ending news conference that CEO/President Carl Peterson and Head Coach Dick Vermeil conducted after the teams' final loss to the San Diego Chargers on January 2nd. They both told reporters that they intended to give the defensive players they resigned a year earlier another season to evaluate if those moves were correct.

It didn't take long to figure out for most fans and the Chiefs management that it would be hard to compete in 2005 without some fresh faces and more talent; especially on the defensive side of the ball. When I was chatting with Lynn Stiles he told me that the defensive personnel actually graded out lower at the end of last season than they had at the time Kansas City chose to bring back a handful of players before the 2004 season.

With that in mind, he was very candid with Peterson and Vermeil, who immediatly went to work. They made up a list of players and eventually refined that list to focus on finding impact players who they could count on to bring a fresh attitude to the defense. Still, the Chiefs only had about $4.5 million in salary cap room. so trying to find a starting linebacker, safety and cornerback would test even the cap genius of Assistant General Manger Denny Thum.

The man responsible for bringing in so many great football players this off-season is none other than Carl Peterson, though. He took an enormous amount of heat upon himself this off-season, and though some progress was made at the onset of free agency, fans could not seem to relax. There were still glaring holes that needed to be addressed outside of signing Safety Sammy Knight and Linebacker Kendrell Bell.

After Bell and Knight were in the fold, the Chiefs received an added bonus by trading for Tennessee Titan defensive end Carlos Hall. Although the move cost the Chiefs a 5th round draft choice, it could pay huge dividends, because Hall is still a young player who has shown the ability to flourish in the right system.

But he wasn't the prize. He wasn't the player that Kansas City fans wanted more than any other in recent memory. They wanted Miami Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain. The fans were relentless and Peterson was under fire from everyone to get Surtain in the fold. In the pre-draft news conference all the talk centered on why the Chiefs had not made the deal with Miami to get Surtain.

The media was relentless, to say the least, and the fans were calling for Peterson to step down. "Just give up the second round draft pick already!" was the sentiment of most of our Warpaint faithful. But Peterson took some offense to the situation and lashed back by claiming that he'd not heard from the season-ticket holders, whom he saw as the "real fans."

That unfortunate statement sent shock waves throughout the entire Chiefs Nation, and only served to fuel the fires of discontent even further. But as much as we all wanted answers, it was not Peterson's job to tell anyone anything. In fact, his job is to reflect all the criticism on himself, a thankless job to say the least. That's his job as the man at the top, though, and he continued to play his cards close to the chest.

Believe me: after talking with him after the draft, and watching his demeanor closely after the Surtain deal was official, and the cards were on the table; his reasons for being so guarded became much clearer.

The man in charge made the moves after a two month battle with Surtain's agent and Miami Dolphins Head Coach/GM Nick Saban, and the deal was finally done just prior to the NFL Draft. Vermeil told reporters that Peterson was exhausted after the ordeal. After all he had just orchestrated the most successful off-season in Chiefs history. If you add the NFL draft into the mix, a draft that included Texas Linebacker Derrick Johnson, punter Dustin Colquitt, flashy receiver Craphonso Thorpe and linebacker Boomer Grigsby; it's even better for Chiefs fans.

Still, all this has to translate to the playing field, but in each addition this off-season the Chiefs added football players. Not that they didn't have any last year, but as Lynn Stiles told me—the emphasis was trying to add players that will give 100% on every down. It appears that has happened and it also appears that Peterson kicked in his own personal 110% to make sure this team could compete for a Super Bowl in 2005.

Peterson has many critics, but he also has people who admire him. The NFL is a business to him and it's a passion for the fans; sometimes those roads cross one another in both good ways and bad ways. Peterson wants to win badly. He wants to give the fans, the organization, the players, Dick Vermeil and especially Owner Lamar Hunt that AFC Championship trophy next January. One that bears his name and one that he so richly deserves.

The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the most respected and stable organazations in the NFL, thanks to Lamar Hunt, who once again opened up his checkbook and spent over $20 million in signing bonuses to upgrade the talent on this roster.

With that said, it's doubtful the fans will let the honeymoon last, especially if these players don't live up to expectations. But if they do, then Carl Peterson will indeed be the King of Arrowhead! And that is a crown that he'll wear proudly. Top Stories