Chiefs Give Peterson The Cold Shoulder

Joe Robbins - Getty

You can say what you want about Carl Peterson and his decisions over the years in regards to draft picks, free agents and contract negotiation tactics. But what you can never doubt is that for 20 years, Peterson was as loyal to the late Lamar Hunt as anyone.

Despite that relationship, when plans began to formulate for Sunday's halftime celebration honoring the late Derrick Thomas, Peterson was told not to attend. Considering Peterson treated Thomas like a son and handled his induction speech at the Hall of Fame earlier this year, giving Peterson the cold shoulder on Sunday was a classless move from the Chiefs. They should be embarrassed.

For 20 years, all Peterson did was make the Hunt family richer. When he took over operations at Arrowhead Stadium in December of 1988, the franchise had an estimated value of $145 million. After the stadium renovations are completed in August of 2010, the franchise will be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.1 billion. Clark Hunt and his family owe most of that success to Peterson.

After a successful stint with the USFL's Philadelphia Stars, Peterson was handpicked by Lamar Hunt to resurrect a franchise that had sunk to new lows. Immediately following his hire, for the next several months Peterson lived in Hunt's stadium suite, while he changed every aspect of the organization. He ruffled a few feathers like Scott Pioli is now doing, but he understood the "build it and they will come" mentality better than anyone the organization has ever had, including the current regime, which seems to be ignoring the fan base altogether.

Right now Pioli has a colossal mess on his hands. According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Pioli and Chiefs head coach Todd Haley rarely speak. Compounding that lack of support is the fact that on the field, the Chiefs are worse than they were at any point under Marty Schottenheimer, Gunther Cunningham, Dick Vermeil or Herm Edwards.

Naturally, the Chiefs aren't selling season tickets. That's in stark contrast to Peterson, who never lost sight of one thing – business. He understood that his main job was not to bring Super Bowls to Kansas City (that was the job of his head coaches), it was to make money for the Hunt family. He did that, and KC's playoff appearances in the 90s were a bonus that led to even more profits.

During Peterson's reign, no matter where people went or what time of the year it was in Kansas City, the Chiefs were always a hot topic. That was Peterson's doing, and during his glory years, on gamedays most fans would leave their homes three or four hours before kickoff to get to Arrowhead.

Today fans leave their house an hour prior to kickoff, or later, and still manage to be in their seats before the Chiefs are playing. Arrowhead Stadium has not been filled to capacity once this year. Empty seats numbered in the hundreds at the start of the year, and now thousands of vacancies are seen every weekend. The Chiefs have been selling tickets at a discount just to keep the sellout streak Peterson started in 1991 intact.

While Peterson had some bad teams over the years, he was brilliant at marketing and always respected the fans. He would go out and tailgate, shake hands, kiss babies and thank fans for coming to Arrowhead. The Hunt family cashed in big time because of Peterson's willingness to be at the forefront of the organization. That has all gone out the window under Pioli.

When I learned Peterson was Persona Non Grata for Sunday's Derrick Thomas ceremony, it was appalling. How could the Chiefs turn their back on him? How could they disrespect the man who drafted, developed and ensured Thomas was a Chief for life?

Apparently, the new Chiefs have short memories. If Lamar Hunt was still alive, there is no way he would have told Peterson to stay away from a ceremony for a player he affectionately referred to as his "son." Family was important to Hunt. That might not be the case under the current Chiefs' leadership.

To be fair, we don't know if Peterson's exclusion was Clark Hunt's idea or Pioli's. But both should be ashamed for allowing such a disgrace, especially when you consider how awful the product on the field at Arrowhead is these days. Unless another major shakeup arrives in January, the Chiefs are headed down the path of the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions. Without more seasoned football people manning the administration and coaching staff, three and four-win seasons will be the norm in Kansas City for years to come.

It's amazing how far this franchise has fallen since Hunt passed away. It's sad to think that for 47 years, I've never once been embarrassed to be a Chiefs fan, but that all changed Sunday with the decision to bar Peterson from the halftime ceremony.

The Chiefs need to look in the mirror today. Hopefully they'll see the apathy that the fans and the Kansas City community currently feel concerning the entire organization, and realize that shunning the past isn't the answer. Right now the past is all we have to celebrate.

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