Going 2-14 will try the patience of any owner. But when you couple it with off-field tragedy, it makes for a year few could imagine.
“Of the 15-20 years I’ve been actively involved in this business, it was by far the most difficult for me personally, both in terms of the team’s performance on the field but also what we had to deal with off the field,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt told Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Hunt said the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide was one the team is still coming to grips with, and overshadowed a season the resulted in firing a coach and a general manager. There was no manual on how to handle it, but Hunt said he learned an important lesson about the business in general.
“That was a reminder to us all how important relationships are,” Hunt said. “No one in the organization saw it coming. None of the players who knew him would have ever picked him as someone capable of that. [Chiefs quarterback] Brady Quinn said what we learned from this was when you ask someone how they’re doing, you really need to mean it.
“You need to be willing to open up because if someone had that conversation with him and really found out what was going on, maybe it could have been averted. Maybe not. But football and pro sports are about relationships. It’s a people business. Whether it’s the coaching staff or the players or the fans, the relationships those people have with each other are extremely important and something we need to be attuned to.”
As for his product, Hunt’s hoping the hiring of coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey bring the kind of stability the franchise has lacked. In his eight years in control of the team, he’s on his fifth coach.
“When you have a tough season like we did, a lot of things contribute to it,” Hunt said. “The truth is we failed as an organization. Sometimes the best thing for everybody is a fresh start.
“I’m very optimistic about the future. I believe you have to hire talented people, and let them do their jobs. Make sure you’ve got a group that can work together, give them the resources they need and then let them do their job.”
The personal part of the equation aside, Hunt has hired two men with long records of success from stable franchises, which is a solid first step in moving beyond a regrettable season.