One on One: Carl Peterson- Part 5 of 5

WPI: How do you balance being a profitable organization with winning a championship? I know there are times when you signed players that maybe you did not feel were best for the team, but maybe a coach wanted them - where do you draw that line?

Carl Peterson: "It is a business, and back in January and early February I had to give a budget to Lamar. I will tell you that Lamar and his family have never once said, ‘Carl, we don't want you to do that' or ‘that's too much money,' or whatever. One of the reasons I have been here this long is that it is a great working environment. Lamar literally lets me make those decisions. I don't think that you can buy championships. I really don't. I think it has been proven too many times by too many teams and organizations. The Pittsburgh Steelers payroll is less than ours. I think there are good ways to do it, efficient ways to do it. There was a woman who said all Carl is concerned about is filling the seats. He is not concerned about winning. How do you fill the seats without winning or making a commitment to winning? I'm not trying to be demeaning, but the people that preceded me basically from 1972 until 1989, they tried to fill seats without winning.

"I don't mean that facetiously, but I am as competitive as anybody. I am as disappointed as anybody that we have not gone to the Super Bowl. I am as proud as anybody that we have been 13-3 three times. You do that and have home field advantage and the bye the first week, and the chances of you getting at least to the championship game are outstanding. We didn't get to the championship game on those three occasions. Do you call it bad luck? Bad karma? Bad player personnel?"

"I can guarantee you this: we are going to continue to work as hard as we can to get there for I think all the right reasons, beginning with the fact that Lamar Hunt and I think this community deserves it. We have spent up to the cap every year. Lamar has always said, ‘hey, do what you think is right,' and people just forget there are 31 other teams who are trying to do the same thing and sometimes there are things you can't control – injuries, schedule, and bounce of the ball. I am employed to run this as a business also, and in my opinion no NFL team should lose money. If they lose money, they are being badly managed."

"You would be shocked at some of the teams who have received money from the other teams in the NFL. I never want to be a receiver of funds from the National Football League. I would be embarrassed. I think I should be fired if it comes to that. And, even though we are in the fifth-smallest market with the third-largest stadium and all the rest of it, we don't have the personal seat licenses and all the other stuff, but I am very proud of what we accomplish. I am disappointed we have not gotten to the brass ring, but I can tell you for these next four years we are going to work our tails to get there."

WPI: Was there a player or two in your 18-year tenure that you said, ‘God, I really wanted that guy,' and you didn't get him?

Carl Peterson: "There is only one that steps right out and that is Donnie Edwards. (Editor's note: The Chiefs re-signed Edwards this offseason) And obviously, there is an attachment here, too. Obviously you see what he has done in San Diego. I regret, to this day, letting my defensive coordinator and my head coach talk me out of that, because I also know how much he wanted to stay here. He loved it here, and he played with such enthusiasm. In some ways he was like Derrick. But, anyway, that was one that got away that I will always, always regret and unfortunately we have to see him twice a year and he usually makes two or three plays against us. That is part of it, too."

"But, I am more concerned about losing the wrong player that has been here. I have a philosophy, and I try to share it with our players. If we bring you here as a draft choice, or a college free agent, or whatever, and you perform to a level that we are pleased about, I am going to do everything I can to retain you. Tony Gonzalez, I'm not going to lose you. I don't want to lose you. Priest Holmes, I am not going to lose you. Larry Johnson, I am not going to lose you. You know, Derrick Thomas – he had three free agent contracts."

"What we found out in free agency though, and this is very interesting, players will turn down a bigger contract with their home team and sign for lesser dollars with another team because they feel that they don't want to lose face with their current teammates. If they don't get everything that they think they should, then they feel like they are being – and I hate this word – disrespected. So then they will leave, and they will go to another team and sign for less dollars there, just to say ‘hey, somebody else loved me and I'm gonna go.' But Neil Smith was a terrific player, and I know that Neil wanted to finish career here. I was thrilled and he was a bit stunned when I called to tell him he was in the Chiefs Ring of Fame."

WPI: Talk a little bit about Chiefs night and the Arthritis Foundation that you have supported for 18 years here in Kansas City. You've raised over $15 million dollars. I know this is something that both you your wife Lori are very passionate about.

Carl Peterson: "Well, I have to give her the credit. It is something that we started before we got married. I was engaged, and she was involved with arthritis, and asked if we could possibly do something like this. It is always a fun night because it is basically the night after the last cut. Especially the young players are feeling great because they know they made it, and as I told them this morning in our meeting, I said, ‘The NFL not for long. Don't forget that you have to make it every week.' The point is that everybody is in a good mood, and it is an opportunity for everybody to touch and get to meet basically every Chiefs player."

"I think it's for a very worthy cause and as I tell the players, we are probably all going to get some form of arthritis. I have been amazed at how much it has grown and how much we have been able to make over the years, but I have give all the credit to Lori because she has really been the driving force. The players look forward to it. I remember Derrick and Neil, they had more fun at this thing than anybody, and they were the bartenders, and then they would get guys to give tips. We have some wonderful auction items that players have volunteered to do."

WPI: Finally, what is one memorable moment for you where you just stood back and said, ‘This is a great game. This is a great experience. This was a great play.'

Carl Peterson: "I think one that will always stick out was the win against Houston with Joe Montana and Marcus Allen. We were down in the first half and we were playing against the great Buddy Ryan, the guru of the defense that stops everybody, and then we just ignite and take off. There is a great shot of Joe when he threw the one touchdown pass that Keith Cash caught – and he throws the ball in Buddy's face, which was great."

"We were on about the 27-yard line going in, and we run a draw to Marcus. We were standing on the sidelines and were behind the offense, and Joe drops back and gives it to Marcus. By Marcus' second step, Joe was raising his hands, and you knew he was going to score. I mean, it was just unbelievable. He knew, and Marcus knew, and to come back to win that – I really thought that would propel us to the Super Bowl. We had to go on the road and play in Buffalo, and I still think to this day if Joe had not banged his head on the turf and Kimble Anders catches that pass, it is a different story."

We hope you enjoyed this special excerpt. Look for more magazine content to hit the web throughought the offseason.

This article originally appeared in Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine. If you want more information about the only Magazine Dedicated to the Kansas City Chiefs, hit the banner below to learn how you can get 56 issues of Sports Illustrated when you order Warpaint Illustrated the magazine.


  Two Great Magazines Top Stories