When I came here, Lamar was very concerned. He said, ‘we've drafted a lot of number one draft choices, but we have made a lot of mistakes. I don't want mistakes.' So, to give one away but then to give it away for obviously an unbelievably talented guy, well-knowing that he was autumn of his career...what could he do to really make a difference for us?"
"And, I have to give a lot of credit to Lynn Stiles. Lynn had been with him with the 49ers and won a World Championship or two there. He said, ‘Carl, this is the most amazing guy I have ever been around. You've got to stand behind him in practice – seven-on-seven or nine-on-seven - and watch him throw the ball.' So I make the decision. I make the trace. We get him here. Part of the trade is getting the contract done. First of all, Joe and Jennifer immediately like Kansas City, which was obviously very good. They come here, and they find out this is really a very, very special part of the country to play in.
So we get the deal done and we were having the first (OTA), and Joe is here now. The entire defense stayed. They finished at 10:30, and we were in the indoor facility, and they want to watch this guy. So, we start seven-on-seven. I take Lynn's advice and I stand right behind him. He drops back, seven yards, and throws the ball – first of all it is not a tight spiral. Joe always called it a tight wobble. And I'm thinking ‘where in the hell is he throwing that?' And then, all of a sudden the receiver is there. Drops back, throws it over here – where in the hell is he throwing that ball - all of a sudden the receiver is there. His timing was unbelievable. It didn't take long to see that the guy saw the whole field."
"The first game down in Tampa Bay, he threw three touchdowns and his demeanor on and off the field was the same. He was just Joe, and that was all that he wanted to be. Believe me. I have never seen a guy handle notoriety so well, with such class and style. There is no way he can sign everybody's autograph, but he will sign some, and then all of a sudden, ‘folks, I'm sorry, I've got to get on the bus' and so forth. People are not pissed off. It is unbelievable."
"When we went to Japan, it was, ‘Joe, oh... Joe, oh...' you know, the Japanese? And he would come out to practice and Tim Grunhard would say, ‘Bigger than Godzilla! Bigger than Buddha. Its Joe!' The guys just loved him, and he could return barbs and practical jokes. When we played that Tampa game, he gets to our locker room and he is ready to put his foot in his shoe, and it is filled with shaving lotion. There is a little note from Steve DeBerg, the Tampa Bay quarterback, who played with Joe in San Francisco and beat him out there and he says – ‘these shoes I hope you never fill,' or whatever, and then he would go over to the Tampa Bay locker room and do something crazy with DeBerg. He was always that way. What a great guy to have here. You could see why the players played for him."
"It didn't matter the size of the game. He was just Joe, and you knew he could get it done, and he did. That Pittsburgh game here on fourth down? He goes into the press conference afterwards and he says, ‘Gee, was that really fourth down?' Joe was a great, great enticement for Marcus Allen to come here. We recruited him a long time. He didn't sign until June and he had about four other options. Number one, he did like having the ability to play against Al Davis twice a year because he was going to teach Al that he made a mistake by not playing him. Number two, to play with Joe Montana? That was pretty special. It was fun."
WPI: One thing I have always wanted to ask you about is negotiating contracts. I would think the first goal obviously is to structure the deal so that it fits within the cap and within the organization's needs. Do you like negotiating contracts?
Carl Peterson: "Let's say that I like negotiating contracts with certain people across the table that I respect. Leigh Steinberg, Marv Demoff, Jack Mills and Tom Condon, these are guys I have known forever. I respect them. I like them. I have always felt that at the beginning of a negotiation they have the same sincere intent that I do. They want to get it done. And they want what is best for their client, first. You know, the other stuff is posturing. But, it is knowing the guy across the table from you, the player agent. I knew that Leigh Steinberg tends towards claustrophobia. I knew that he was an anxious guy who was always looking at the clock because he was thinking ‘where should I be now?' He is not a guy who focuses for a long time on numbers."
"What is amazing to me is that our media, some of them, seemingly want to always take the side of the agent. Okay, well that's fine. You want to choose sides, you can do that. But they never write about the agent after the fact. The first guy that had John Tait - Ethan Locke - he has a history of holding first-round draft choices out. I mean every single one - and he continues to do so today. The guy held out Ryan Sims and Hadley Englehart. To this day I fault him for the difficult start that Ryan has had to begin his career in the NFL. Because if you hold out a rookie, that's trouble, and if you hold him long enough he is going to get hurt."
"The percentages show that the chances of injury increase the longer a rookie holds out. A year after his holdout, Ryan fired his agent and he was suspended from the Players Association. Thank goodness I do have Denny Thum, because he had the patience of a saint. He can say ‘no' a thousand times and not anger an agent. It only takes me about two minutes and they are on fire and I'm on fire. But to answer your questions, yes, I do like negotiating with what I consider good, ethical, honest, agents. I don't like, and I don't have five minutes for guys that I don't trust. Overall, it is the part of the job that I least like to do."
Tomorrow: Part 5
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