June 4, 2013

Owner Clark Hunt ‘very excited’ by what he’s seen from new-look Chiefs

Chairman Clark Hunt, who watched minicamp practice Tuesday, wasn’t necessarily predicting a Super Bowl in the Chiefs’ first season under general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid, but his outlook was surprisingly upbeat for a team that won just two games last season and wound up with the first pick in the NFL Draft.

Clark Hunt has never been one for bold predictions, and even if he was, last year’s disaster involving the Chiefs might have been enough to make him change his ways.

So the Chiefs’ chairman, who watched minicamp practice Tuesday and answered media questions afterward, wasn’t necessarily predicting a Super Bowl in their first season under general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid. But he was surprisingly upbeat for his outlook on a team that won just two games last season and wound up with the first pick in the NFL Draft.

“I always have high expectations, but you try to temper those expectations,” Hunt said. “We do have a new staff. We have a lot of new players. I don’t know how quickly it will come together once we get to September. But I’m very excited about what I’ve seen this spring.

“I wouldn’t use the term ‘rebuilding.’ We came into 2013 with a lot of talented football players on the team. John Dorsey has done a great job of adding some people who I think will help us both this year and down the road. And then obviously Andy and his coaching staff have done a tremendous job with them.”

Tuesday’s practice was not the first Hunt had witnessed this year. While it’s not been unusual for Hunt to attend practice since taking over as chairman from his father, Lamar, several years ago, he said after firing coach Romeo Crennel at the end of last season that he planned to be more involved with the Chiefs.

So far he has, at least publicly.

“I am trying to be around the team more,” Hunt said when asked about his appearance at practice. “Definitely that’s part of it. But a big part of it is just my excitement as a fan just wanting to see Andy and his staff coaching the team.

“It’s been so exciting this spring to see the guys progress. Even two weeks ago, I thought the practice was great but you move to today in the minicamp we’re in and you can see the guys are really picking it up. You can feel the excitement in the building, not only when the guys are on the practice field but when they’re in the meeting rooms as well.”

Reid has been hands-on at practice working mainly with the offense. He hasn’t been shy about interrupting practice to make a correction or get after a player for a lack of effort.

That’s one of the things Hunt was curious about. Before hiring his new coach, Hunt was concerned whether Reid still had the passion for coaching after 14 seasons coaching the Philadelphia Eagles.

“One of the things he mentioned to me during our interview back in January was how excited he was to get back to coaching,” Hunt said. “He had worked his way out of coaching and had become a manager with the Eagles and he wanted to get back on the field and working primarily with the offense. It’s been fun to see him do that. Watching him on the field and watching him work with the players, I think that confidence is rubbing off on them.”

Perhaps taking their cue from Hunt, the Chiefs don’t appear to be approaching this season as a rebuilding year even with a new general manager, coaching staff, offensive and defensive systems and several new players.

“I think every football player and every coach is going to tell you you’re going to try to win every game,” Reid said. “That’s the way you’d better practice and then when you get to training camp you’d better practice that way and when you go out to play you’d better play that way.”

Linebacker Derrick Johnson, who along with punter Dustin Colquitt is the longest tenured Chiefs player, has been with the Chiefs through more dismal seasons than just 2012. But he learned quickly those seasons wouldn’t be allowed as an excuse for failure in 2013.

“Andy Reid put a standard on us when he first walked into the meeting room,” Johnson said. “It’s to win a championship and it you’re playing for anything else, you’re not doing justice to the game.

“You never look at it as a rebuilding year. That’s college talk. You always reload.”

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