Patience – A virtue for all

When Clark Judge urged Clark Hunt to have patience with the Chiefs last week, it gave me pause. I've never had the pleasure of meeting Hunt (maybe this July), but have enjoyed the privilege of hearing his exclusive interviews with Warpaint Illustrated.com Publisher Nick Athan. Through that portal, Hunt never struck me as anything but patient.

I'm not talking about Nick's questions, which can be long-winded at times. Jokes aside, in my estimation it's obvious Clark Hunt has plenty of patience. He's demonstrated that trait numerous times since taking a larger role within the Chiefs' organization.

In fact, Hunt himself spoke on that issue just a few months ago, in an interview with Warpaint Illustrated.

"One of the most difficult things about my role with the team is knowing when to show patience and when not to," he said. "Certainly from an emotional standpoint, as we were suffering through the losing streak, it was very hard to be objective. I wanted to be careful to make sure I took enough time after the season to really evaluate what took place here this year, why we had the kind of season we had, and what kind of changes needed to be made."

What changes were made? Well, Hunt didn't fire his subordinates, throw huge wads of money at free agents or attempt to make unreasonable demands in April during the NFL draft. Instead, he allowed his General Manager, Carl Peterson, to trade the franchise's premier player. He permitted his head coach, Herm Edwards, to do what he's always wanted to – build a team from the ground up.

I think Clark Hunt has more patience than most. In fact, that's what I'm concerned about – almost everyone else involved in the world that revolves around Arrowhead Stadium.

Do we have patience?

Do the veteran players in control of KC's locker room – Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson, Brian Waters, Donnie Edwards – have patience enough to coexist with the massive influx of rookies and young players who now dominate their turf? Can they deal with the mistakes on the job? What happens when Johnson rips off a 60-yard run to the goal line, only to see Brodie Croyle throw an interception on the next play?

Yes, such a scenario may not be grounded in reality – this is the Chan Gailey and Herm Edwards offense, not Vermeil and Saunders – but the point is valid. Young players screw up. They ruin potential scoring drives and blow chances to get off the field on third down.

Can Napoleon Harris – who has already complained about his job status this offseason – deal with that?

More importantly, can you and I?

The Chiefs' fan base might be long-suffering, but it better prepare to suffer at least a little while longer. Judging by fan reaction in the past – especially at Arrowhead – there's a large contingent of people who are completely fed up with the state of pro football in Kansas City.

If you recall, it was early last fall when the Chiefs came out against the New Orleans Saints in a preseason game and put on a complete stinker of a performance. Croyle flicked an interception late in the second quarter, inciting Chiefs fans to flick something else in the air, along with a hearty cacophony of boos.

Completely unwarranted? Maybe not, but here was a young quarterback who had barely dipped his toes in the NFL pond. He was surrounded by a terrible offensive cast that threatened to put him in a cast every time he dropped back. Interceptions happen.

What happens this year if that scenario repeats itself? Can we deal with it? I admit, I've overreacted within this space in the past. I've said some things I now regret.

Will the media have patience this season? Will they fling venom via radiowaves, newsprint and websites too soon when things go south?

How about the Chiefs coaches and front officers? Oh yes, there's need for patience within Arrowhead, too.

Will defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham deal with young corners for 16 games? Can Chan Gailey live with the mistakes from a young quarterback? Can Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson patiently endure the criticism that will surely come their way should their team experience another long losing streak? If the Chiefs wind up missing the playoffs again, will we see Arrowhead press-conference eruptions on ESPN?

It seems everyone could use a dose of tolerance this year, and beyond. Perhaps impatience is inevitable in this business, however, and I'm asking for too much. In that case, I'll just let Clark Hunt speak again.

"It doesn't come overnight," he said. "What's important to me is that we're taking the steps now that over a three to five-year period builds a winning team. It's very easy to get off track, we saw that in KC in the late 70s and 80s, and you see it in other cities where a few mistakes or the cumulative effect of a few mistakes over years can really put you in the ditch and make it hard to get out."

There you have it. The Chiefs are in the ditch. Does everyone involved with playing, coaching, watching, cheering, reporting and deciding what goes on at Arrowhead Stadium have enough patience for what could be a long climb out of it? That is the question of the 2008 NFL season in Kansas City.

I know what my answer will be. Henceforth, this space will do its best to contain a mantra of patience. It can be tempting these days to attach oneself to the caboose of the Chiefs-bashing locomotive that runs all-too rampant in Kansas City media coverage. For at least one football calendar year, I'll refrain from hitching a ride on the Negativity Express.

So let's buckle down and get ready for what could be a long, cold winter. If the groundhog at the Truman Sports Complex emerges from his hole in the ground this fall and sees his shadow, we might be in for another losing streak. Just don't kill the groundhog over it.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories