Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Exec Peterson leaves Chiefs after 20 years
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If Carl Peterson plans to go straight from Kansas City to the Miami Dolphins, he isn't tipping his hand.
Ending a 20-year run as president, general manager and chief executive of the Chiefs, Peterson delivered a 40-minute farewell speech on Tuesday to friends and staff. In brief remarks later with reporters, he said talk of his possibly going to work for the new ownership of the Dolphins was "pure speculation."
"I don't deal in speculation, never have and never will," Peterson said. "At this point, it's not even worth discussing because it hasn't been discussed."
The 64-year-old longtime pro football executive did say he has no plans to retire.
"I'm thinking about going away for a couple of weeks and relaxing," he said.
Peterson stepped aside last month as the Chiefs were nearing the end of a franchise-worst 2-14 season. Clark Hunt, the chairman of the board of the Chiefs, is interviewing candidates to replace him, and plans to hire a vice president in charge of the team's business operations.
Peterson was on the sidelines wearing a Dolphins lapel pin at a recent Miami game. He has a long-standing relationship with Stephen M. Ross, whose purchase of the Dolphins is expected to be concluded soon. Peterson ran the highly successful USFL team which Ross owned and finished with a record of 48-13-1 before the league disbanded.
"I just know I'm not going to retire," said Peterson, whose Chiefs teams were 176-143-1 and won four AFC West titles. "I'm going to take a couple of weeks off, I know that. I'm probably going some place warm and play some golf. I'm just going to sit back, frankly, and see what may come available.
"I'm in no rush to do anything," he added. "This business can wear on you. I need a little time away."
One of the many people Peterson acknowledged during his speech was Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins' general manager. Ireland, the nephew of a former Chiefs player, got his first job in the NFL as a Chiefs scout under Peterson.
"I'm so proud of him and what he's been able to do with his career here, and in Dallas, and now he's a general manager in the National Football League," Peterson said. "I think that's well deserved."
Peterson said he might take as much as a month off before getting back in the game.
"Maybe I can be a consultant. I don't know what that is, but maybe that's the next venture on the horizon," he said. "I'd like to think I have some knowledge and experience that I could share with people. That's certainly a possibility."
About 300 people gathered in the Chiefs' indoor practice facility to say goodbye to the man who ran the team with near-total control from December 1989 until December 2008. Afterward, everyone but the media was escorted upstairs for a party.
"Carl Peterson leaves a great legacy with a long list of accomplishments," Hunt said. "He returned the Chiefs to prominence in the 1990s. His teams won 176 games, including three 13-win seasons, nine playoff appearances and a trip to the AFC Championship Game.
"Perhaps my favorite stat is that his teams beat the Raiders 30 of the 41 times that we played," Hunt said. "He helped make Arrowhead one of the best stadiums for Chiefs fans and one of the worst stadiums for opposing teams."
Peterson said his biggest disappointment was failing to get to the Super Bowl and present to Lamar Hunt, the late founder of the Chiefs, the Lamar Hunt Trophy that goes to the AFC champion each year.
Twice when Marty Schottenheimer was coach and once under Dick Vermeil, the Chiefs were 13-3 and had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But each time, they lost their first playoff game.