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What We Learned from Clark Hunt on Monday

Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt spoke with the media on Monday

OPENING STATEMENT:"Good Morning everyone. Thank you all for joining us for today's announcement. We're very excited to be able to introduce Brett Veach as the new GM of the Kansas City Chiefs, but before I do that I understand that a number of you have expressed a desire to have an opportunity to ask questions about the decision to part ways with John (Dorsey) and I want to make sure that we honor that. Before I get to your questions I also want to reiterate what I said at the time of the announcement: it was a difficult decision, but after a thorough evaluation of our football operation, I felt that it was in the best long-term interests of the Chiefs to make a change. I sincerely appreciate John's contributions to the success of the Chiefs over the last four and half years. I have a tremendous about of respect for him and while I'm happy to take your questions I'm not going to say anything negative about John or the job he did as the general manager of the Chiefs. With that I'll open it up for questions."

Q: You indicated earlier in the offseason you were going to be working on extensions for not just John, but Andy (Reid) as well. Obviously you got one of them done. What changed? What happened in John's case?

HUNT: "Over the course of the spring there were enough issues that popped up that caused me to want to do a full evaluation of the football department before I extended either Andy or John. In the course of that evaluation I just became concerned about our ability to continue the success that we've had the last four years, or better yet, to build on that success and have a championship team."

Q: How much input did Andy have in parting ways with John Dorsey?

HUNT: "The decision was mine, but obviously I talk to Andy on a regular basis and any evaluation of the football department included Andy."

Q: Did he battle to keep him?

HUNT: "I'm not going to go into the conversations that Andy and I had about John. It was more fact based about the things that I was seeing. As you know Andy and John have a great relationship."

Q: Did you ever get to a point of contract negotiations with John?

HUNT: "Not at all. There were no contract negotiations at all."

Q: So money was not a factor in the contract negotiations in any way?

HUNT: "Not at all. There weren't any contract negotiations, so there were no financial issues."

Q: You had five people leave or get fired and then you promoted from within. What kind of mess did you have on your hands?

HUNT: "I don't know that we had a mess on our hands. We just had a situation where I felt that we needed to get better. As you know the NFL is a very, very competitive business and in order to build a championship team you have to have a personnel department that's operating at a very high level."

Q: But you saw some people as doing their jobs and others as not?

HUNT: "The job that Andy and his coaching staff have done for the last four and half years has been tremendous, and I would say John did a very good job for us. But I had concerns about our ability to sustain the success that we have had and that's really what led to the decision to make a change."

Q: Was it salary cap related?

HUNT: "There is no one issue that I would point to. There's a lot that goes into managing a personnel department, so I don't want to single out any one issue that played a role."

Q: The two guys you promoted, [Brandt] Tilis and Veach, how instrumental were they in explaining or showing to you what was going wrong?

HUNT: "First of all, the decision to elevate Tilis was made by John while he was still here. Brett, who we're promoting to general manager, was not somebody that I interviewed per se as a part of my football evaluation."

Q: Did anything happen specifically to lead to your decision? Was there a tipping point, like Jeremy Maclin for instance? Were you pleased with the way that was handled?

HUNT: "Again, coming back to the answer that I gave regarding the salary cap, there was no one single thing that led me to the decision. It was really an overall evaluation of the department. I mentioned that there were a number of issues across the spring that caused me to want to make the evaluation."

Q: About the Maclin release, were you okay with the way that that was done and handled?

HUNT: "I know what has been reported publically. I'm not sure that's actually what happened, so I'm going to stay away from answering that question."

Q: The fact that it was so long into the off season, what made you so comfortable with taking your time to make these decisions and what were all that factors that led to it?

HUNT: "As I mentioned earlier there were a number of issues that popped up during the spring that caused me to want to make the evaluation, and I felt that it was prudent to wait until after the draft to do so. Obviously, you don't want a shake up during the draft, and so that's really what led to the timing. Frankly, once I got into the interview process I had a number of candidates tell me that this time of year is actually much better for them and had they been hired they felt they would've had a better chance to help us next year in the draft and also in free agency because they would've had nine to ten months to prepare for it."

Q: What does Brett have to do in the job to succeed that John didn't?

HUNT: "I'm not going to get into comparing and contrasting the two of them. I have a lot confidence in Brett. I think he's a very sharp young man. I think he's a very good evaluator. We're going to get to the press conference where we introduce Brett here in a little bit and we'll talk more about that then."

Q: Is it fair to say that the landscape changed in the spring. Did you have any sense that this wasn't going to work out before the spring?

HUNT: "No I really did not. It wasn't until I got in and did the work that I made the decision."

Q: Can you just take us through that Thursday when you announced that coach got the extension and then like 40 minutes later this thing. How'd that whole day go and when coach signed the extension did he know what was going to happen with John? If you can, walk us through the timing of all that stuff?

HUNT: "I informed Andy of the decision on the day that I let John go. Andy obviously knew that we would be announcing his extension that day. In both cases I knew that I needed to extend their contracts because they both had about six or seven months to run, and that also played into the timing."

Q: Who has final say on football decisions?

HUNT: "Brett Veach has final say over the 53."

Q:But he works with Andy to make those, is that what John had?

HUNT: "It's exactly the same relationship that John had with Andy. I expect the two of them to work together on the decisions, but Brett has final say on the 53."

Q: Can you say who your Rooney Rule candidates were? I was told that you guys did comply, so who were they?

HUNT: "I'm not going to get into talking about any of the candidates, but we interviewed several candidates who would satisfy the Rooney Rule."

Q: What was Andy's reaction to the conversation about letting John Dorsey go?

HUNT: "I think Andy's been around the business long enough to know that tough decisions have to get made, even in situations where you might have a friendship with the individual."

Q:Both Andy Reid and John Dorsey reported to you and you're going to have that same situation here. Is that working? Were there any issues there?

HUNT: "No the relationship from an organizational standpoint worked very well, and part of keeping the structure the same is the way that worked. Obviously your GM and head coach aren't always going to agree on issues, but I expect them to work together to get to the decision that is best for the Kansas City Chiefs."

Q: You mentioned the spring being the point when you saw the concern as far as potentially moving on from John. Was there anything before or anything in the last three years that gave you pause about the job he was doing?

HUNT: "It's easy to second guess decisions. Every GM or head coach is going to make decisions that they wish they could take back, but I would really say it was the issues that popped up this spring that led me to the evaluation. In the course of that evaluation you learn things that maybe you weren't aware of a year or two ago that factored into the decision."

Q:Was John aware of some of the problems that you uncovered in your evaluation or did you catch him by surprise?

HUNT:"I do not know if I would characterize it as catching him by surprise, but obviously when you decide to part ways with somebody there is always two different perspectives on how things have played out and the direction going forward. So that part of the conversation was not unexpected."

Q:So do you feel like it was an amicable spilt? Have you been in touch with John since?

HUNT:"John and I have not spoken since we parted ways. I should come back to that. What I let John know is that we were not going to be extending his contract and really for his benefit, and for ours once he knew that, he needed to move on. I expect that John will have other opportunities in the National Football League and this will give him a little bit of a runway to work on making sure he is in the best position when the hiring cycle comes back around in January. Also for us, we needed to move on at that point. There was no point in having a lame duck general manager going into the season."

Q:I am sure you are aware of some of the tweets Tamba Hali sent out. What are your thoughts about that?

HUNT: "I have not had a chance to speak with Tamba about that. I believe there are appropriate ways to express yourselves. Obviously, Twitter has become part of the landscape in professional sports. I really think that is an issue that is best addressed with Tamba and the head coach."

Q:You let John Dorsey go. Chris Ballard has gone to Indianapolis. How would you characterize this offseason as far the personnel changes?

HUNT:"It is never easy to part ways with somebody that you are fond of. I had a great personal relationship with John and he has played a big part in the success we have had in the last four years, but really the decision was really about making the Kansas City Chiefs better. We have very high aspirations. We want to compete for a championship every year. We want to get to the Super Bowl and win it. I just felt that if we were going to do that in the next three or four years we needed to make a change. Change is part of the National Football League and you are going to have that every year whether that is players or staff. The successful organizations are the ones that are able to manage through that."

Q:What type of conversations do you want to have with Brett coming forward with player transactions?

HUNT:"As it was with John, Brett and I will talk frequently. When it involves a veteran player who is under contract, a big free agent signing, that is something I would expect Brett to visit with me about just as John did. Ultimately the decision itself is his but I like being part of those conversations to make sure that the club is building the roster in a way that I think gives us the best chance of being successful. There would not be a difference I would say in terms of how I interact with him and how I interacted with John."

Q:How did you feel after making that contract with Eric Berry and him not showing up to OTAs?

HUNT:"I think Andy did a very good job of answering that question during OTAs, which is those practices are all optional. Over the years we have had a number of players who do not show up for them and that was the decision that Eric made."

Q:There is a story that John treated his draft picks better than some veteran players and there might have been an understanding between Berry, (Justin) Houston and (Dee) Ford. Was that an underlying factor in this thing?

HUNT:"That is a rumor I have never heard."

Q:How similar is this process to make this decision to others you have had to make?* *

HUNT:"Well in our organizational structure the head coach, the general manager and the president, Mark Donovan, all report to me. Anytime one of them is up for a contract extension it obviously makes sense to evaluate where we are and where we are headed. It is really no different."

Q:Do you have any concern about Andy's influence on Brett? Do you think that will impact him?

HUNT:"I really don't. I think you will come to appreciate this after you have a chance to visit with Brett – he is very much his own man and has his own independent thoughts about how you build a championship team. Andy has certainly had an influence on him and he (Veach) will likely work very well with Andy, but I expect him to build the Chiefs in the way he sees fit. Head coaches really tend to focus on the year at-hand where general managers are thinking down the road. General managers, in general, have a long-term impact on the roster and I know he has that vision."

Q:What do you think about the Rooney Rule and how would you strengthen it?

HUNT:"I think the Rooney Rule is one of the best things the National Football League has ever done. As a byproduct of that rule, we have more minority head coaches and general managers than really any of the other professional sports. I have seen its impact as we have gone through the interview process over the last decade in helping us see a very diverse candidate pool. I am not sure there is anything that can be done to strengthen it per se, but I think it is positive and something I would be an advocate for continuing."

Q:What would you tell fans that are wondering how this makes the Chiefs better?

HUNT:"Again I do not want to come back to one specific thing as I want to stay away from the issues that were part of the decision, but I will say that to have a championship team your personnel department needs to be functioning at a very high level. The other 31 teams generally have very strong personnel departments and if we are going to build a championship team you have to have a department that is functioning at a very high level."

Q:What ways are you closer to winning a Super Bowl because of these moves? What about Andy Reid's contract extension?

HUNT:"We have not talked a lot about Andy's extension, but really the job he has done for us the last four years has been tremendous. He is really as good as any head coach in many, many decades. His career speaks for itself. He is a coach that knows how to get a team to a championship game and then on to a Super Bowl. I have been very, very pleased with the job he has done. I felt that we needed the change in the personnel department if we are going to match the coaching side in terms of the quality of the organization and that is why the decision was made."

Q:What were you pleased with when working with John?

HUNT:"I am not going to tackle that because it is an indirect way of getting to the answer you want."

Q:Chris Ballard was held in high regard. What kind of job did he do here?

HUNT:"I am not going to talk about Chris because he is the general manager for another team but I will say Chris did a great job during his time with the organization."

Q:Did you find inconsistencies with what you were told by the people who report to you and what you found out in your inquiry before you entered negotiations?

HUNT:"Specifically to answer your question no, there were not inconsistencies between what I had been told. There were just issues that once I really dug in that I discovered caused me to want to head in a different direction."

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