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Clark Hunt: "I'm a big believer in Andy Reid and John Dorsey"

Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt spoke about the historical turnaround this season


Q: On Backing Andy Reid and John Dorsey after the 1-5 start.

HUNT:"Well, we were in London at the time and had won the game against Pittsburgh the week before and for me it really goes back the job they've done over the last two and a half years they've been here, almost three now. Their body of work in three seasons with us has been fantastic. And although we were disappointed in the five-game losing streak at the beginning of the season, I sensed that they had a chance to turn it around and sure enough they have."

Q:After starting 1-5 did you feel the need to take some inventory among the staff?

HUNT:"Well, we talk every week and obviously when you're losing those conversations are a little bit harder and Andy (Reid) said the key was we've got to just keep focused on the next opponent and that's what he did. We got that first victory, which I think really lifted the team's spirt, went to London, I think the team had a great experience over there, obviously won the game and it just took off from there."

Q:How hard is it to be in your seat at 1-5?

HUNT:"Well, it's just incredibly disappointing. Whether you're a fan, a player, a coach or sitting in my seat, it was just a disappointing start to what we thought was going to be a very special year. It's turned out that way, but it didn't play out, I would say, as we thought it might."

Q:Last year you said this team was capable of making a Super Bowl, how has that changed between the point in which they were 1-5 to now?

HUNT:"Well, clearly when you're 1-5 you're not thinking about the playoffs or the Super Bowl. You're thinking about getting a victory and getting out of the losing streak. Once we started stringing some victories together, I became optimistic that we could maybe carry it all the way to the end of the season and make the playoffs and that's the way it's played out."

Q:At 1-5 how much do you have to consider making changes?

HUNT:"Well, I'm a big believer in continuity and I'm a big believer in Andy Reid and John Dorsey. Although I was very disappointed, I wasn't at all thinking about making a change, because once again, it goes back to the job they've done since they've been here. They took us after a very disappointing 2012 season to the playoffs next year. We narrowly missed the playoffs last year and all of us thought this was probably the best team that we've had since they've been here and we were just disappointed. But I had a sense that they might be able to turn it around."

Q:The weather hasn't been great but there have been a lot of empty seats at Arrowhead, is that a concern if a home playoff game occurs?

HUNT:"No, our fans are fantastic and I know that if we're fortunate enough to win the division and host a home game next week that our fans will be here supporting us. We have had some bad weather this year and that's happens sometimes. It's cold in December, I understand that, but our fans are fantastic and they'll be out here supporting us."

Q:Do you anticipate requesting away games next season to provide opportunities for Arrowhead events?

HUNT:"Well, I don't really want to comment on the schedule because of the way it's played out for us has worked out, so I don't think it's been a negative. We do have a number of things that create conflicts at the stadium whether they're college football games or the American Royal and we have to work with the league on that. We do emphasize every year that we would like to host as many games as possible in September and October, for some reason that doesn't seem to happen every year. This year we had the additional complication of going to London, we won't be going overseas next year so I don't anticipate that at least being part of the issue."

Q:What's your understanding of how Andy Reid's going to approach today's game?

HUNT:"He is going to play all out to win it. He and I spoke about it early in the week. We have the chance to win the division and get a home playoff game. He understands how important that is so I anticipate we'll be going full-bore today."

Q:On losing injured players and still going on a winning streak.

HUNT:"Well, first of all, you never want to lose players like those guys. Those are the core guys on the team, some of the best players that we have. When Jamaal (Charles) was injured early in the season I think that was very deflating for the team and the job that Andy (Reid) and the leadership did, in terms of getting the team to stick together and continue to believe that they could win despite his loss I think was tremendous. The same thing has happened here late in the season with Justin (Houston) being down."

Q:What are some of the specific qualities from Andy Reid that stand out to you?

HUNT: "I would say, first all of, he's very much of a calming influence – he doesn't get too high or too down depending on what's going on during the course of a season. He continues to tell the guys to believe in themselves and to stick together. He does that with his coaching staff and he does that with the players. I think that was probably the key to the turnaround early in the season."

Q:What's your sense that this could be the Chiefs last game against the 'Oakland' Raiders?

HUNT: "It's premature to talk about that at this point. Obviously we've had a tremendous rivalry with the Raiders going back 55, 56 years. I hope we continue to have that rivalry in the future."

Q:You're on the committee that meets this week. What are you expecting to hear before the big meeting, what do you want to hear?

HUNT: "Well there's still a lot of information that we need to look at. First of all, I don't know who's put in, or who will be putting in a bid to relocate – we suspect that the Raiders may be one of those teams. And also, we need to consider the opportunities that have been put forward by the markets – by Oakland, by St. Louis, by San Diego – for the teams to stay. So we'll be going through all that that week, (and) all that this week, and then onto the league meeting the following week."

Q:Are you torn about his, you have a Missouri team that you have a good relationship with and your two oldest AFL rivals could be on the move.

HUNT: "I really think the best thing for the National Football League, when possible, is for teams to stay where they are. All three of those teams have tremendous fan bases in their home markets. In an ideal world, I'd like to see them all stay where they are. It's probably not going to work out that way, there'll be at least one team that moves to L.A. I can't speculate on who it'll be at this point."

Q:Do you expect a team to be in Los Angeles in 2016?

HUNT: "I do."

Q:There was a report that the Chiefs opposed a Raiders and Chargers move to Los Angeles without realignment, is there any truth to that?

HUNT: "I saw that report and there was no truth to it at all."

Q:Is there any information you can provide on De'Anthony Thomas?

HUNT: "I'm really going to have to leave it at what Coach Reid shared earlier in the week, which is it's a personal situation and we just can't really comment more on it at this point."

Q:At 1-5, what differentiated your belief in what was able to be stabilized when you were having tough years a few years ago, what was it about Coach Reid or the team that kept them from going off the rails?

HUNT: "Well, I mentioned it earlier. First of all, I think we have tremendous leadership in the locker room with some of our veteran players – Justin Houston, Eric Berry, DJ (Derrick Johnson), Alex Smith. And I think that combined with Andy and his very veteran coaching staff was able to keep the guys focused. A lot of teams at 1-5 might have packed it in, but we didn't and I think that's really a credit to our coaching staff and that leadership in the locker room."

Q:Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry are all in the last year of their contracts. From an owner's point of view, is there a serious effort to bring them back, do you anticipate them being back?

HUNT: "Well I won't comment on any one of them specifically, but all of them are very important to this franchise. One of the things I like best about pro football is when players stay with the team that they were drafted with for their entire career. That doesn't happen a lot anymore, but if we could have all those guys back, I would love it."

Q:Do you feel like this team is equipped to win not only one playoff game, but go deep in the playoffs this year?

HUNT: "I really do. I think it goes back to a lot of what we've already talked about in terms of the coaching staff and the leadership that we have in the locker room. Clearly the guys all believe in each other, they've had to do that to sustain the winning streak for the past nine weeks. If we can carry that momentum into the playoffs, I think we've got a legitimate shot."

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