Clark Hunt Certainly Gets It

As the search for Carl Peterson's replacement began, a lot of names were mentioned in the process, and someday we might learn the names of the actual candidates. But by hiring Scott Pioli away from the Patriots, we learned a great deal about the man who sits atop the Chiefs' organization.

I've said it many times – Clark Hunt is one of the brightest men in pro football that I've ever met. In talking to him over the last two years, his quiet nature, pleasant personality and genuine spirit is refreshing.

For a man who grew up with Lamar Hunt for a father, it's not difficult to see why Clark Hunt acts the way he does. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention his mother, Norma, who certainly had a hand in his raising, but it's clear they both did something right.

As the GM search began in Kansas City shortly after Carl Peterson stepped down, there wasn't any question that Hunt, who had been preparing for Peterson's departure since January 2008, would have to do something he's never done before. Find a new football man.

Many wondered what direction Hunt might go. Early on he set the table by indicating there would be no dual roles in Kansas City. He'd have a President running the business side of the Chiefs and a GM to run the football operations.

That meant more power-hungry candidates might not have been interested in the job in Kansas City. The hottest name on the market in early January was New England Patriots V.P. of Player Personnel Scott Pioli. Many considered him a lock to join the front office of the Cleveland Browns.

Some doubted it would happen, mostly because they felt Hunt might not be able to get Pioli to listen to why Kansas City is a great place to work, live and to rebuild a struggling franchise.

At New England, Pioli had three Super Bowl Rings, was named the NFL Executive of the year on two occasions and was arguably working next to the best NFL Coach in the modern era, Bill Belichick.

But the fact that Pioli's interest level reportedly grew after each conversation with Hunt and team President Denny Thum until a deal was struck told me all I needed to know about Hunt. It was clear he was working hard to win Pioli's trust. He had his sights set on making the Chiefs the best franchise in the NFL.

That requires building of your organization with the best people possible. But in order to do that, to make real change that impacts the front office, which will in turn change the fortunes around on the field, you must be able to deliver that message with passion and back it up with support.

Sure, you also have to be willing to spend the money to get the right people, but that's secondary to getting people to believe in your dream.

Based on the fact Hunt's GM search led to destinations all over the country, he clearly had several qualified personnel men interested in taking the job. In other words, he delivered the message, it was well received and talented front office men were listening. And none listened more closely than Pioli.

Part of that probably had something to do with the fact that, based on numerous conversations with NFL insiders (some within Arrowhead itself), the GM job in Kansas City might be the most attractive front office gig in many years.

When you mix a loyal owner who just invested $125 million into additional stadium and facility renovations with a young nucleus of players and $30 million or more in cap space to play with in free agency, why wouldn't the best GM candidates want to come to Kansas City?

Whoever became the Chiefs' next General Manager certainly did their homework. They probably found Hunt to be more in tune than some in league circles felt he would be as the interviews took place.

They based that, more than likely, on his easy nature and quiet personality. That might lead some to assume Hunt is not passionate about his franchise. That's clearly not the case.

That's why the future is bright in Kansas City. Change was inevitable, and now after two losing seasons Hunt finally has the opportunity to put his own stamp on the Chiefs.

He's begun that process by hiring Scott Pioli away from the Patriots to lead the Chiefs in a new direction. Pioli was the best candidate available. Hunt, it appears, won't settle for anything less in order to get his team back in the Super Bowl.

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