CIA: Clark's Interview Activity?

In the weeks since the conclusion of the regular season, much of the interest of football fans has shifted to the Chiefs' search for a new GM. Owner Clark Hunt has been the subject of both praise and criticism from fans and the media. Why all the secrecy? Is it a good sign or a bad sign?

The argument of many of the critics is drawn from the fact that we are nearing the one-month point since the announcement of Carl Peterson's departure following the 2008 season. Depending on what information you believe, Clark Hunt and the Chiefs have been conducting their search for one year, one month, or any length of time in between.

According to the official line, Peterson's eventual resignation was mutually agreed upon as early as January of last year, however many are skeptical (as they are with any information regarding any subject given by anyone officially associated with the team in any capacity) as to when the decision was actually made regarding Peterson's future.

Now, in most cases, I don't usually see eye-to-eye with the "fan mob" when it comes to conspiracies or "lies" being told by the team or its officials. This time, I do find it hard to believe that a definitive decision was made so early about Peterson leaving with a year remaining on his contract. I am of the opinion that the Chiefs had every intention of allowing both Peterson and Herm Edwards to continue on into 2009 under their current contracts.

As the dreadful 2008 season began to drag on, with limited positive signs of growth, I believe Hunt's plans began to change. I would not be surprised if it was at some point in the middle of the season, during the extended losing streak (including the embarrassing blow-out losses), that Hunt made the decision to change course. Whenever the decision was made, it can be agreed upon by everyone that Hunt and the Chiefs have obviously had at least one month to begin the search for the organization's new leader.

Another complaint that quickly popped up among fans is the lack of information regarding the interview process itself. It was barely two days after the Chiefs' season-ending loss to the Bengals when fans began to grouse about not hearing any information regarding the future leadership of the team.

"Clark has already had two weeks to make a decision," they screamed! "Why don't we know who Clark is interviewing?! He must not have a plan!"

With Peterson - their main foil and target for complaints - gone, it didn't take long for many to go from celebrating Peterson's exit to finding a new subject to talk about.

In those days following the season, while reading the already-emerging complaints about the "slowness" of the Chiefs' search, I drew a swift backlash for making light of the expectations of some fans to know everything Hunt was doing and who he was talking to at every turn. If there's one rule about complainers, it's that they are the only ones allowed to criticize - their own speculations and the logic behind their arguments cannot be questioned or opposed.

I've spent my entire life growing up in the Kansas City area, so I long ago learned that it's best to just leave the complainers to their own business. Their minds cannot be changed. It rains every day. Things are always bad. The Chiefs have never done anything well, and never will. Taxpayers will always be cheated and scoffed at. Fans' opinions will always be disregarded. The rest of the NFL does things the right way, but not the Chiefs. The Hunts and the Chiefs don't even care about winning.

I can only imagine that their soup is always too cold, their steaks always cooked improperly, their corn flakes always soggy.

If it's constant agreement with conspiracy theories or fuel for the eternal flame of complaints you are wanting, there are literally hundreds - if not thousands - of media outlets, writers, and sports radio personalities available every day to quench that particular thirst.

While the relative silence and secrecy surrounding the Chiefs' process of finding a new GM has been complained about locally, it has been the subject of credit and compliments from other sources. With other NFL owners like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder, it is seen by many (including myself) as a breath of fresh air to see an owner like Hunt, who does not seem intent on sharing the spotlight with the on-field product or as having a propensity to turn the operation of his football club into a media sideshow attraction.

Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner has freely conducted much of his organization's business in front of the media thus far in the offseason. The individuals receiving interest and interviews from Lerner and the Browns have been revealed by the team at every turn. With Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, and Jay Glazer apparently on speed-dial, Lerner has kept everyone well-aware of who he was talking to, and in some cases even when and where the talking-to was taking place.

"We're going to talk to Bill Cowher," or "We're going to meet with Scott Pioli tomorrow." There has been plenty of talk from the Browns, publicly.

The result? Lerner made the somewhat confusing move of hiring a head coach (Eric Mangini) before he has a new GM in place. Hiring Mangini all but eliminated Scott Pioli from the equation for the Browns' GM position. Atlanta's Rich McKay was mentioned by Lerner as someone the organization was interested in, but McKay withdrew himself from the conversation.

Following the hire of Mangini, Philadelphia GM Tom Heckert told the Browns he was not interested in the job in Cleveland, as he didn't know Mangini and didn't feel comfortable working with a head coach he had no experience with. Lerner has now all but backed himself into a corner, limiting his options to hiring someone who is Eric Mangini's buddy.

If I were a potential GM candidate, I'd stay away from the Cleveland Browns as though they were radioactive. You've got a loud, media-courting owner who has already hired a head coach without your opinion or input. Not even taking the condition of their on-field product into consideration, the ownership and organizational aspects are frightening.

On the flip side, any GM candidate would likely be impressed with the way Hunt has operated his own search. A candidate knows he can have talks with Hunt, interview for the position, and deal with things in a professional, serious manner, without a media circus.

Is the search taking a long time? Yes.

Are the Chiefs alone in their situation? Hardly.

Other than the organizations which have promoted from within (Detroit and St. Louis) and Lerner's amusing GM-less hire of Mangini, all other positions that opened up in the last two weeks remain open. It may be a trendy opinion that the Chiefs are "falling behind," but looking around the NFL, it just simply isn't true.

The Chiefs are on the right track in the interview process. Scott Pioli is clearly their preference, but by all accounts, Hunt is not relaxing. Instead, he's conducting interviews with other candidates (with Eric DeCosta and George Konkinis possibly joining the list this week) in the event Pioli decides not to take the job.

In short, I believe the Chiefs do want to win and Hunt is clearly on the ball, and knows what he's doing.

So why the "cloak & dagger" act? Why is Hunt conducting his search as if he was in the middle of a James Bond film? Because he wants to make the right hire, and he doesn't want it taking place in front of the media and the public.

Scott Pioli or no Scott Pioli, Clark Hunt will make the right move. Of that, I am confident. Then again, that may be my own silly optimism. Top Stories