However, what he’ll ultimately be judged for as the man at the top will be the success his team has on the field of battle. After Saturday’s practice, he chatted with reporters and gave his overall impressions of the franchise to date. But what wasn’t lost in his words was the fact he’s a true football fan.
“Well, like everybody, like any fan it’s fun to watch the players play and compete against each other,” Mr, Hunt stated. “And that’s one of the things we saw today was a lot of great competition. But I also keep an eye on the coaching staff and the rest of the football support staff, and how they are doing their job. As we’ve gone from regime to regime you can see differences and I think Andy’s camps are among the best I’ve ever seen.”
It’s those regimes, he’s now been through two of them, will determine the success of the franchise in the years to come. When he overhauled the organization after it’s 2-14 slide in 2012, he made the final decisions in hiring a head coach and general manager.
With Andy Reid and John Dorsey running the team on the field, it’s allowed him to work with a pair of football men he respects. By hiring them on his terms, he believes they can deliver the singular franchise goal that has eluded his tenure to date, a Super Bowl Championship.
This may not be the year for a return to that glory but the franchise took a huge leap forward after their 11-5 season a year ago. Going forward though the key is making sure, that Reid, Dorsey and his players have what they need every single day in order to be successful.
That includes a summer training camp facility that services the demands of his entire football team. In other words, there are many questions that have to be answered no matter where the Chiefs set up their training camp.
“Does the football staff, the coaching staff, feel like they are able to have an effective camp? Be able to get done what they want to get done here? There are a lot of things that go into that, a lot of small details. Andy is, I think, well known for his attention to small detail and the university does a nice job with those small details,” he stated.
So does that mean Missouri Western will continue to be the future training home of the Chiefs? That remains to be seen. In fact, Mr. Hunt stated they might not answer that question until December.
Part of that delay could be putting together a feasibility and profit study to bring training camp to Kansas City. After all, many NFL teams use their home facilities to run their training camps. Is that something the Chiefs would consider in the future?
“We’ve enjoyed our time in St. Joe. The university has done a great job for us. Coach Reid really likes the setup we have here. Our deal with the university can potentially extend another five years on a year-to-year basis. It’s a decision that we will make after training camp. We will sit down as an organization, visit with the university and make a decision by the end of the year,” Mr. Hunt said.
That’s the political way of stating the Chiefs will explore every option including making improvements to their own practice facilities that could be transformed for the players and the fans as their future training ground.
However, while that’s an important factor the continued maturation of the players within this organization on the field has to be paramount to Mr. Hunt. After all, if the Chiefs start winning consistently and they change their most recent playoff fortunes, the sky is the limit for his football team.
In order to get to that point again, Mr. Hunt has to show a willingness to allow his staff to bring in the best players, develop them into productive pieces of the football team and ultimately keep them long term. Case in point, Mr. Hunt pointed out the recent contract extension for All Pro Running Back, Jamaal Charles, was something he deserved.
“Well, clearly, Jamaal Charles is a special player; one of the greatest players already in his young career, in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. We had two years left on his existing deal – the structure of the contract gave us the opportunity to approach him and get an extension. It was good for both parties, and naturally, he was looking for an increase in compensation, which, we felt, based on his production, was warranted. We wanted to tie him down for another couple of years as a Kansas City Chief and hopefully he plays through the majority of his career as a Chief.”
The Chiefs didn’t need to extend Charles but as an organization felt it was the right thing to do. That aside the Charles extension won’t be the only contract item Mr. Hunt will face in the coming months. All Pro Linebacker, Justin Houston and All Pro Quarterback, Alex Smith, are in the final years of their respective deals.
Mr. Hunt should take note both players aren’t letting the contract talks interfere with their willingness to come to camp on time. Though Houston didn’t attend off-season workouts in Kansas City, Smith did. To their credits, they came to training camp showing a sign of good faith and letting their agents handle the business stuff. It further illustrates the players desire to stay in Kansas City for the long term.
So will the Chiefs get their contracts done in short order much like they did with Charles?
“Justin Houston’s a great player and we’re glad to have him part of the Kansas City Chiefs, we’ll get to that at the right time. He does have one year left on his contract, like Alex Smith does. Both of those guys are important to the organization. We would anticipate that process will follow due course here over the next six months or so,” he said.
No matter what looms ahead in those contract negotiations or the season ahead, Mr. Hunt has done all the right things guiding the Chiefs ship back on course. It was rocky two years ago, and some would even say the boat was sinking, but the young owner got his feet wet, paddled his franchise back to dry land and his efforts were rewarded in 2013 with one of the best turnaround stories in the history of the NFL.
Photos: Denny Medley USA Today Sports
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