The great Roman philosopher Seneca tells us that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Ten years ago the band Semisonic made that quote into annoying adult-oriented radio drivel that will regrettably outlast the majority of 1980s fast food packaging. Around the same time a reflection of that quote should have pervaded Kansas City’s premier sports franchise. No such reflection occurred.
Ten years later, or two five-year plans after his first two five-year plans, Kansas City’s great Narcissus is finally seeing that reflection. Carl Peterson, the once great GM who raised the Chiefs from the ashes only to raze them back to ashes, is banished.
But in essence he’s still here, and he’s not leaving anytime soon. Two decades of business decisions, some good and some bad, can’t and won’t be overdone overnight or even over the course of an offseason. This team will bear the Peterson brand for years to come. It will bear it in the presence of Dwayne Bowe as well as the absence of Jared Allen. It will bear it in the success of Tyler Thigpen as well as the failure of Brodie Croyle. It will bear it in the departure of Willie Roaf as well as the arrival of Branden Albert.
How long will it be before free agents look at Kansas City as a desirable stop again? Carl’s infamous negotiations that seem to favor the team on draft day likewise seem to cripple the team everywhere else. Scott Fujita summed it up best three weeks ago in a text to a former teammate:
“Being back in KC reminded me how great their venue is, how great their fans are, and how happy I am not to be there anymore.”
Ringing endorsements like that are why players like Jeff Faine and Josh Brown didn’t bother returning phone calls last February. It might have been written off as strategy, but even the most youth-oriented front office wouldn’t have settled for Devard Darling and Demorrio Williams as its key acquisitions. No…. that, my readers, is a product of reputation; our beloved franchise has joined the ranks of the Buffalo Bills as a player’s last resort. We’ll have to settle for building through the draft for a while, because the only way we’re going to get players here is to force them to come.
Of course that wasn’t always the case. Let us not forget that the GM who ran off John Tait and Jared Allen also brought us Joe Montana and Marcus Allen. Before Kansas City was a last resort for Hall of Shame players it was a retirement resort for Hall of Fame players. Mike Webster, Willie Roaf, and Warren Moon came here too. Carl brought them all. That’s not to be taken lightly.
Quite frankly I’m torn as to how to feel about him. At present it’s easy to speak ill of him for leaving the team in shambles, but will history judge him so harshly? I don’t think so. Setting aside his egomaniacism, his disregard for the fans, and his inability to develop a speedbump between his brain and his gums while Mormons are in the room, I’ll acknowledge that he’s a shrewd businessman who, until lately, knew how to get the job done.
So let’s respect this for what it is: the end of an error. The error was not in hiring Carl Peterson, but in giving him so many second chances. GMs, like presidents, need term limits. In the case of a GM those terms should be measured by head coaches–once the second one goes, so does the GM. Or maybe we can all just universally agree that 19 years is too long to go without a major occupational gut check. It’s time for new blood, but I believe in time the old blood won’t look quite so much like bad blood. I’m giving credit where credit is due, and today some of that credit goes to King Carl.
Also, fire Mike Priefer.