Kansas City Chiefs Chairman & CEO Clark Hunt met with the media on Saturday afternoon as training camp got underway at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. Here’s a transcript of what was said.
OPENING STATEMENT: “Good afternoon everybody. We’re glad to kick off the 2019 season and get training camp going. We’re delighted to be back at Missouri Western for our tenth year. Tremendous crowd out here today. It’s probably got to be one of the biggest opening practice crowds that I’ve seen since we’ve been up here at Missouri Western and obviously, they’re very excited about the season and it was great to get the first practice under our belt.”
Q: A couple months ago you said that you were confident that you guys would make the right decision on Tyreek Hill at the right time. Do you feel like you guys were able to do that?
HUNT: “I really do. With it happening in the offseason we were able to take the time for the NFL to conduct its investigation and for them to make a decision on his status. That allowed us to sit back and wait for that investigation to be closed. We were able to get some information from the league in terms of what they learned and that put us in a position where we could make the decision to have him back on the team.”
Q: You said then that you were deeply disturbed at the audio. How did your perspective change as you heard the entire tape and the other things that came out throughout the course of the investigation?
HUNT: “Hearing the entire tape put it in context. At the same time, I would say my statement at the time stands. I thought there was some inappropriate language in that tape and I’m sure Tyreek wishes he could have it back.”
Q: What have your conversations been like with Tyreek since all of this has come out?
HUNT: “I had a good visit with him earlier this week. I’m not going to get into the details of that conversation, but it was a very frank conversation. Talking to him about his responsibility as he comes back to be a Kansas City Chief.”
Q: The league obviously declined to suspend or fine him for that. Did the Chiefs consider their own penalties for Tyreek after that?
HUNT: “We really didn’t. We did ask him to stay away from the team this spring and in a way that was a penalty of its own sort, but we didn’t consider additional discipline beyond that.”
Q: I know your always optimistic this time of year. What are your feelings about this year’s team? Does it go beyond what you normally feel about your team this time of year?
HUNT: “It sure does. Obviously being as close as we were to the Super Bowl last year and in Andy’s (Reid) words ‘coming up four inches short’. It allows us to come into this season with a lot of belief and I could feel it last night in the team meeting. I always have a chance to address the team and a lot of our staff gets to address the team and there’s a tremendous energy level throughout the organization. It starts with the players and coaches, but you can really feel it in the entire building.”
Q: How did you feel that in the meeting?
HUNT: “It’s not something that I can really articulate. It’s just a feeling that we have. I think the players know that they have something special and the players usually are the ones that know what kind of team they have, and I think all of those guys feel very excited. It was great to see them get out here this afternoon and get that first practice in.”
Q: Given how close you were to winning the AFC Championship Game, but you still made significant changes in personnel and coaching, how in-tune were you with all those decisions throughout the offseason? And what was it like to see all that change?
HUNT: “Well it was something that Andy, Brett and I talked about extensively following our loss in the AFC Championship Game. Andy made the decision to make the change with the defensive staff, which he talked to me about and I thought that was the right call. Obviously when you have a new defensive staff, you have a new scheme on defense and a lot of new players, it’s going to take some time for that to gel. I think that’s really going to be one of the storylines this preseason.”
Q: Thoughts on having Chris Jones here in camp?
HUNT: “Delighted to have Chris here. He’s been such an important part of the team over the last three years. Obviously, he had a breakout season last year. We’re glad that he made the decision to be here. I think it’s important for him to be here with the new defensive coaches, the new scheme, the new defensive players so that he can figure out his role in it.”
Q: You mentioned that you met with the team already. What was your message to them?
HUNT: “I always talk to the team about what it means to be a Kansas City Chief. I talk about our mission statement. I talk about our goals – first goal is to win the AFC Championship and bring that Lamar Hunt Trophy to Kansas City, and the second one is to go get another Lombardi Trophy.”
Q: We talked to Chiefs President Mark Donovan yesterday. He mentioned that there will be conversations about the future of camp, and that this could be the last year in St. Joseph. Do you get the sense that this might be the last time in St. Joseph?
HUNT: “Our experience here has been tremendous across the last 10 years and I’m not expecting anything different this year. The staff here does such a great job. The facilities really lay out well for us. Our Head Coach enjoys being here. But we’ll be in a position where we can listen to other opportunities. I don’t know how that’s going to shake out because we have had such a great experience here, but we’re at the end of the 10-year commitment and it behooves us to listen to what kind of opportunities are out there.”
Q: Is bringing camp back to the home facility in Kansas City a strong option at this point?
HUNT: “It’s an option. I don’t know I would say it’s a strong option. Andy Reid is a little bit different than some of his counterparts who like to have training camp at their facilities. I think Andy likes to get away, he likes the camaraderie that’s built across the three weeks you’re at camp. Everything is on the table, but I would expect that we’ll look for a situation like this.”
Q: Are you confident that the team can keep Chris Jones long-term?
HUNT: “Those discussions will take place here in the coming weeks and coming months. We would sure like to have Chris be part of the team from a long-term standpoint, but there are a lot of considerations that go into that.”
Q: How’s dorm life going?
HUNT: “It’s great. I’ve been in the same dorm room all 10 years, and there’s a familiarity that comes with that when I walk in. The one thing I’ll say about this year, it’s marginally warmer than it’s been in previous years. It’s something like 65 (degrees).”