Clark Hunt was, as they say, to the manor born.
He’s the grandson of flamboyant oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, who was once one of the richest men in the world – if not the richest – and had 15 children with three wives. The J.R. Ewing character in the TV series “Dallas’’ was loosely based on his life.
Clark also is the son of late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who changed pro football by co-founding the American Football League, which led to the merger with the NFL and the creation of the Super Bowl. He even named the game after a kid’s toy called the Super Ball. Lamar was very down to earth, always wearing a blue blazer and gray slacks and never showing the trappings of wealth.
Clark, now 52, was No. 1 in his class at SMU and took over running the Chiefs when his father died in 2006.
Clark, though, is showing that being smart and rich doesn’t always translate into being a good owner. Or from doing dumb things. In a family run business, the third generation is often the one that has problems keeping things on the right track.
His first major move was getting rid of Carl Peterson, who had been the team’s general manager for two decades after the 2008 season. He then hired Scott Pioli, who had been Bill Belichick’s top aide in New England, but who was ill-suited to the GM job and fired after four years.
Hunt then landed on his feet by hiring Andy Reid (pictured above, left) after he was fired by the Eagles. A week after he hired Reid, Hunt hired John Dorsey (pictured above, right) as general manager.
Hiring the coach first and then the GM often doesn’t work, but Dorsey and Reid knew each other from the days in Green Bay. In effect, Reid hired Dorsey, and Hunt approved it.
They immediately turned the Chiefs around. They have been the fifth-winningest team in the NFL the last four years with a 43-21 record — and the first four won Super Bowls.
Dorsey also traded up in this year’s draft to select Patrick Mahomes, who is supposed to be the quarterback of the future. Whether he will be remains to be seen, but Dorsey was proactive and didn’t wait until Alex Smith was finished. The Chiefs seemed to be a stable organization.
Then Hunt fired Dorsey last week.
Huh? This move makes no sense.
Even worse is the fact that Hunt let personnel director Chris Ballard leave to become the Colts’ general manager in January.
Hunt shouldn’t have let Ballard leave until he had Dorsey locked up in a new deal.
Meanwhile, nobody knows for sure why Hunt fired Dorsey.
An early theory was that Reid wanted more power when he signed a contract extension. But Hunt said Reid and the new GM will continue to report to him, so Reid will get no more power.
Well, at least on the surface he won’t. But Reid already had the power. Even if Reid didn’t push Dorsey out, he obviously didn’t fight to keep Dorsey when Hunt decided to make the move.
The Reid extension was announced a few hours before the Dorsey firing. In a statement issued by the team, Reid thanked the Hunt family but didn’t mention Dorsey.
Also, the Kansas City Star reported the issues were communication and management style.
Dorsey is noted as a blunt, no-nonsense type. He probably alienated both Hunt and Reid, so he was fired.
It may have come down to a personality clash.
There was a theory that Dorsey wanted too much money or was happy to leave because he thinks he’ll get the Green Bay GM job when Ted Thompson retires.
That theory was contradicted by reports Dorsey was blindsided by the firing. And his decision to trade up for his quarterback of the future doesn’t make sense if he didn’t think he would be a part of that future.
Dorsey was sometimes too slow in extending the deals of top players and wound up paying more than he would have if he’d made the deals earlier. And he did fire two staffers earlier this year. But those were hardly firing offenses for Dorsey himself.
The bottom line is that in a few months, Hunt lost his GM and the GM’s top aide.
The timing is strange, too, because this is the time of year when most NFL types are on vacation. But that’s a minor problem. It’s an NFL GM job on a playoff contending team, so there will be no lack of candidates.
The NFL Network reported the Chiefs plan to interview one in-house candidate, Brett Veach. NFL Media, meanwhile, reported that they plan to interview ESPN analyst Louis Riddick for the job. Riddick, who worked In Washignton and Philadelphia, interviewed for the San Francisco job. He was in Philadelphia from 2009 to 2013, so he has a connection with Reid, although Riddick tweeted last week that the Chiefs have yet to contact him.
And USA Today reported that Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Seattle co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer are on the Chiefs’ radar. Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton, meanwhile, declined an interview.
Hunt has created a major distraction when he didn’t have to.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Now it’s up to Hunt and Reid to keep the Chiefs winning without Dorsey, who will likely be at the top of the list for future GM jobs and land on his feet.
If the Chiefs falter, there will be more questions about why Hunt and Reid decided they were better off without Dorsey.