Dec 28, 2007, 8 : 43 : 33 AM
With just one game remaining in the Chiefs mercilessly miserable season, it seems the only question left to answer is who to fire first. As is natural and predictable when a corporation radically underperforms, stakeholders are looking for solutions, immediately demanding the termination of those responsible for the crash.
Though expectations for the 2007 campaign were low, the current eight-game skid has exceeded even the most morose predictions. Failure on every level has sparked the debate among Chiefs fans over who will lead the mass exodus to the unemployment line.
Fire the GM. Growing in fervor and frequency is the call to can Carl Peterson. Unpopular with the media for most of his nearly two-decade tenure, Peterson has reached a new low in the polls. About as cuddly as a cactus, Peterson has lost footing with a ticket base that is stinging from the paltry performance of this yearís squad. Censured for being aloof and unavailable despite unfailing facing the music on his live weekly radio program Petersonís personality as much as his policies and philosophies have landed his head squarely on the chopping block.
As the top executive of the team Peterson deserves and accepts responsibility for the teamís fates. Bombing on some critical draft picks during this century, Peterson and his personnel staff have come under the scrutiny of savvy fans that are awakening to the fact that NFL powerhouses are seldom built through free-agency.
Blamed for everything from ticket prices to the cost of hotdogs, neither of which are solely or even mostly controlled by him, Peterson is bearing the brunt of an angry constituency that is fed up with paying top dollar for a subpar product. Never mind the laws of the marketplace which indicate that prices are on the incline for all consumable and durable goods and services and that quality is only one consideration in determining price. The bottom line is that entertainment dollars are a discretionary expenditure, and if ticket holders feel they are being asked to pay too much at the turnstile and concession stand, then they are free to stay home.
Fire the coach. With plums like Bill Cowher sitting out there with seemingly nothing better to do than return to the constant pressure of head coaching, a vocal minority are seeking the replacement of Herm Edwards. How short is the collective memory of the Chiefs contingent? A pursuit of Cowher Ė presuming heís remotely interested Ė holds little hope of netting better results than the 2001 courting of Dick Vermeil. Both possessing the ultimate bargain chips, a Super Bowl ring and the forfeiture of a profitable and pleasurable retirement, compensation becomes an issue that should concern fans wishing to sign high-level draft picks and useful free agents.
What Vermeil brought along which Cowher likely could not was an elite quarterback. Scraping Trent Green off the turf and supporting him physically, emotionally and financially through a career resurgence Vermeil successfully created a franchise-type player. If Cowher has an ace-in-the-hole who will act as a team leader and playmaker at the quarterback position, Iíd like to know who it is.
Trade Larry Johnson. If the Chiefs could work out a player-for-player trade to acquire a rising star in the QB category, Iím all for it. A bristly demeanor, an unproductive season, and a hindering injury have conspired to once again place Johnson firmly in the middle of fan trade talk. But like Kansas City, teams are looking to develop young players and establish the foundation for sustained success. Valuable players coupled with cold hard cash simply arenít enough to tempt teams into trading emerging talent.
Cut all high-paid and aging veterans and send the coaching staff with them. Okay.
The key component missing from arguments to clean house from top to bottom is availability. Chiefs fansí astuteness has been fueled by frustration. A natural byproduct is the desire for sweeping change, but neither fan nor press sufficiently offers feasible replacements for key positions on and off the field.
Understanding the culture of the Chiefs organization is imperative in considering what the off-season may produce. Despite a lifetime of observing at close range the actions of his legendary father, it is highly doubtful that Clark Hunt will order a mass execution. No matter what else Peterson and Edwards contribute or deduct from the team, they lend a sense of security and experience to a franchise under new ownership. Probably in no other city could the death of the teamís active owner be weathered with such little disruption to the everyday operations of the business.
If the Chiefs have been historically defined by one principle itís loyalty. A bad habit that has been allowed to flourish is the practice of rewarding players for past performances rather than dealing them at the height of their marketability for younger replacements. The policy extends to the front office where loyal employees, trusted colleagues, and personal friends have been baptized into the Chiefs family where they may be moved from decision-maker to desk-occupier, but never fired.
Those clamoring for change Ė and who isnít? Ė are bound to get their wishes fulfilled in the approaching weeks and months. Those expecting a wholesale reinvention will suffer yet another disappointment. Anyone resolving to keep Peterson in an auxiliary role as a business manager overseeing the renovations of the stadium but with no involvement in player personnel and coaching decisions has learned nothing about the man in the last 19 years. Heíd sooner quit.
Since when did it become the responsibility of fans and press to suggest or come up with replacements for inept personnel?