Football

Hunt weighs in on off-field woes

Shortly after our Chiefs selected Jackson State receiver Sylvester Morris with their first pick in the NFL draft Saturday, another reporter and I stopped Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and asked him a few questions about the team's recent off-field problems.

Friday the Chiefs released kick returner Tamarick Vanover after it was learned that Vanover confessed to FBI agents that he helped finance a marijuana-distribution ring that also included former Chiefs running back Bam Morris. Here, I'll let Hunt do most of the talking. I'll save my opinions and reaction to Hunt's comments for the end of this column. Question: Would you have preferred for kick returner Tamarick Vanover to have been released a month ago, when he struck a plea agreement with prosecutors for his role in a car-theft ring? Lamar Hunt: "I really haven't followed it that closely other than Carl has kept me posted three or four weeks ago. And I was actually out of touch when Carl tried to reach me (Friday), and he talked to my son Clark. You can't go back and wish on things. I'm terribly sad for both Bam and Tamarick and the problems that they apparently have. I wish them well in that respect, in everything that they do in life. My main thought would be that they come out well in life. It doesn't matter. It's over as far as their days in Kansas City." Q: Considering the recent legal problems of Chiefs players, are you comfortable with the possibility of this franchise acquiring Cincinnati free-agent running back Corey Dillon, who has had his own legal problems? LH: "That's a consideration always with any player that comes in. I'm not real (familiar with the situation). I understand that he had some problems a couple of years ago. ... But I know that the people making those decisions - Carl (Peterson) and Gunther (Cunningham) and Terry (Bradway) - are definitely cognizant of those things." Q: Are you in touch with how Kansas City Chiefs fans feel? LH: "I hear from some fans occasionally. I'm generally aware, but each fan feels differently. But I basically consider myself to be a fan, too. You have to consider everything as it turned out. Again, to repeat what I said a minute ago, it's sad for the individuals involved. At some point the organization has to go forward." Q: To those fans who are confused by the organization's handling of the Bam Morris-Tamarick Vanover situation, do you have a message for them? LH: "Gosh, I don't know that I have a message to the fans. I think basically they feel pretty good about the Chiefs. I know that there's a sense, and I share that, that we want to have quality people in our organization - front office, coaches and players. I know Carl and Gunther have that same feeling. Sometimes you can't quite make it all fit. You try to make something work, like a Barry Word. He worked pretty well. Some others did not work well." Q: If something like the Vanover situation happens again, would you take any action? LH: "Everything that happens in pro football causes us to evaluate all of our processes. This is not brand new by any means. But in the interview process when we interview college players, that's something that we try to emphasize. I'm talking about the character issue." Q: Are you comfortable with the job Carl Peterson is doing? LH: "Excellent job. When you look at where we've drafted over the last 10 or 11 years and won-lost record in the spectrum of pro football. Sure, I'd rather we have won 10 straight Super Bowls. But we've had a darn good record - I think the third-best record here in the last 10 years. We're not going to be satisfied until we get to be No. 1, both in record and winning the Super Bowl." Q: Can you envision yourself getting more involved with the operation of the franchise? LH: "In certain areas I'm sure I'm way more involved than other owners or investors. I believe from a team standpoint that's got to be the people that are working on it every day. I can't see one practice a month and be trying to pick the team or anything like that. I can do a lot of advising on the promotional things. I've got a lot of harebrained ideas. We're always trying to improve every aspect of our operation. But I don't see being more involved. I enjoy being here on the day of the draft. But Lord, oh mercy, there have been months and months and years of effort that have gone into the preparation of taking the step where we just a few minutes ago selected Sylvester Morris." My reaction to Hunt's comments? Carl Peterson can add one more title to the longest title in professional football - president/general manager/CEO and virtual co-owner. Hunt described himself as a "fan," and I believe that's mostly the way he conducts himself as owner. Day to day, it's Peterson's club. Hunt should be more concerned about what's going on. The government alleges that two of his team's employees were trafficking drugs in this community and Hunt "really hasn't followed it that closely." To me, that reaction is sad. Before speaking to Hunt, I asked Peterson whether he regretted holding on to Vanover. "No," he said. Why not? "Because I still believe there's due process," Peterson said. "I made a statement at that time I would evaluate the situation, pending additional things that may or may not arise, I would make a further decision. I made that decision, and that decision is done." And Peterson's decisions fall under very little scrutiny within his own organization. Power has its privileges. Peterson doesn't leave home without it.

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