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Lamar Hunt: Winning cures all, Part II

Accomplished new leadership turns the tide

This is the eighth in a continuing series of columns tracing Lamar Hunt's role in the marketing of the Kansas City Chiefs and the situations and circumstances he faced in doing so.

Winning cured a lack of interest in 1966 and it quickly sparked what interest still percolated among a dwindling few diehards inside cavernous Arrowhead Stadium.

It came in the form of a new management team and a new coaching staff. There had been other head coaches to be sure, and they had not worked, but the front office had been pretty much the same with just a few additions and subtractions through the years. 

Both Carl Peterson, as president and general manager, and Marty Schottenheimer, as head coach, did something their predecessors could not do. They brought the staffs that had fared them well at their previous stops. Moreover, Hunt could point to their successful resumes in turning around losing franchises, something their predecessors did not have.


Peterson in Philadelphia and Schottenheimer in Cleveland faced similar problems in those cities when they took control there and it stood to reason they would face much the same difficulties in their new workplace. Peterson had accompanied the messianic Dick Vermeil in Philadelphia, and later was his own man in leading the most successful franchise in the fledgling United States Football League, building a growing audience in a city that featured as many as four professional sports and many more major college teams.

Schottenheimer, who had been raised in the Rust Belt of western PA, knew what a losing franchise looked like and he had helped turn fortunes around competing in a division with the Super Bowl darlings, the Pittsburgh Steelers, reawakening thoughts in Cleveland that here was another Paul Brown. In Kansas City it turned out to be more the case of the quality of leadership, not the culture, an overused term too often bandied about in contemporary times.

People knew who Schottenheimer was and that he was successful as a head coach, not the latest assistant coach du jour who had never been the boss.  His name alone captured the attention of a citizenry who followed NFL football.  In the opening months of their tenure in Kansas City, both Schottenheimer and Peterson became well-known figures throughout the city, appearing everywhere to build new interest. Peterson was quick to recall those early days, remembering them as a continuing series of "the Carl and Marty show," he later said.

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