The Chiefs have officially decided to appeal the league’s tampering ruling, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt told The Star on Monday at the NFL’s annual league meeting.
“As we indicated in the statement, we intended to file and we have filed that appeal at this point,” Hunt said.
Hunt declined to comment further on the matter, noting that he was limited on what he could say publicly because it is currently under appeal.
However, it is known that appeals are generally heard by the commissioner or his designee, which can be someone else in the league office or someone from outside. Appeal hearings can be done over the phone and are often heard in an expedited manner, which in this case would likely mean prior to this year’s NFL Draft, which begins on April 28.
“We’re in the very beginning process of that,” Hunt said. “We’ve not had a discussion with the league on the (time line), but I’ll say from our standpoint, we would like it done by the draft.”
The league announced March 9 that it stripped the Chiefs of two draft picks and fined the team for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy in last year’s pursuit of free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
The infraction, the league says, came during the prefree-agency negotiating period last March, when the Chiefs were courting Maclin, then under contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. The league says the Chiefs had direct contact with Maclin during the negotiating period, which is strictly prohibited. The Chiefs eventually signed Maclin to a five-year, $55 million deal.
The Chiefs lost their third-round pick this year and sixth-round pick next year. The club was also fined $250,000, while coach Andy Reid was fined $75,000 and general manager John Dorsey was fined $25,000.
The Chiefs had five days to appeal the decision in writing, which they did. And it appeared to be an easy decision, too, as Hunt, 51, was asked whether he quizzed more senior owners than himself — like say, New England’s Bob Kraft, who has sparred with the league over Deflategate for the last year — for advice before proceeding.
“In this particular situation, it wasn’t something that I felt I needed to seek someone else’s counsel,” Hunt said. “Those situations, referring specifically to the Patriots, are very, very different than this situation. I’m lucky to have a great staff … who is able to help us think through what we needed to do.”
The good news for the Chiefs is that even with the potential loss of this year’s third-round pick, they will still have seven selections in this year’s draft because they acquired an additional fifth-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks for safety Kelcie McCray last September.
Still, Hunt made it clear that the organization greatly values its draft picks.
“The thing about the draft is you’re really building for the future,” Hunt said. “It’s great when you have a year where you get a Marcus Peters or Eric Berry, guys who can come in and really make a difference year one. But that’s the exception, that’s really not the rule.
“What is important about the draft is you’re getting guys that can help the team in 2018 and 2019, so every one of those draft picks is important, and I have tremendous confidence that John will do a great job using the picks we have to build the team for the future.”
Hunt made it clear that regardless of the outcome of the appeal, he feels good about the state of the franchise heading into the 2016 season, and that the tampering situation has zero impact on how he feels about the job Reid and Dorsey have done.
Since their arrival in 2013, the Chiefs — who were 2-14 in 2012 — have gone 31-17 in the regular season and made the playoffs twice.
“I am very confident in them, and I made a point of that in the statement I released,” Hunt said, referring to the statement he made when the league announced the tampering penalties. “It’s one of those difficult situations that sometimes happen, and it doesn’t make me think any less of John or Andy.”
In fact, Hunt reiterated that he will continue to look at their body of work when evaluating their job performance, much as he did midseason, when the Chiefs were a disappointing 1-5 and he fielded questions about their job security before the London game.
“When we were in London, and I was asked whether I was still really fully supportive of Andy and John, the answer is absolutely, because I’m evaluating the body of their work with us,” Hunt said. “They’ve both been with us for three years, we’ve got two playoff appearances, we’ve won a playoff game, were close to going the playoffs a third year, they’re both doing a great job of building a team for this year and also building a team for the future.
“The Kansas City Chiefs are lucky to have them.”