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The Kansas City Chiefs are just past the halfway point of the 2021 NFL season and with it comes CEO and Chairman Clark Hunt’s annual midseason update. Hunt spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon, discussing a number of topics ranging from the upcoming matchup with the Dallas Cowboys to the Royals’ interest in building a downtown stadium.
Check out some takeaways from what Mr. Hunt had to say below:
Hunt wants the Preston Road Trophy back
AP Photo/Ed Zurga
The Chiefs and Cowboys are looking to keep pace in their respective conferences with a win this week, but the owners are competing for something a bit more sacred. The winner of this contest will get to take home the Preston Road Trophy. It might not be his father’s namesake trophy like the one given to the winner of the AFC title game, but this one was actually crafted by Lamar Hunt.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Clark said he expects to get the trophy back with a win this week.
“So I ran into Jerry (Jones) about a month ago and I reminded him that he needed to bring the trophy,” Hunt said. “We’ll see if he follows through, but we plan on getting it back for sure.”
The Cowboys won the last game played against Kansas City in 2017, so Jones currently has the traveling trophy, but this year the Chiefs plan to bring it back to Kansas City, at least until these two teams face off again.
How would a downtown Royals stadium impact the Chiefs?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Royals announced in September their plans to explore a downtown stadium. How would a decision to move from the Truman Sports Complex impact the Chiefs, though? Hunt weighed in on Thursday, explaining that they’ll be watching the process closely.
“John Sherman was thoughtful enough to give us a heads up that they were going to make that announcement and that it was something that they’re considering,” Hunt said. “Obviously, we’ve been connected to the Royals for almost 50 years now, here at the sports complex, and so their decision on their long-term future will have an impact on us. We’re going to watch as they go through the process and at some point in the next year or so start thinking about what’s next for the Chiefs from a stadium standpoint.”
Does that mean the Chiefs might consider building a new stadium and making a change in the future? Right now, Hunt seems to be content with where his team is at in Kansas City, but new renovations could be coming at some point in the future.
“We think that GEHA Field at Arrowhead is still one of the finest stadiums in the National Football League,” Hunt continued. “And the renovation that we completed about 11 or 12 years ago really brought the stadium into— back into the top tier in the National Football League. Obviously, things change and the way fans want to consume the game and the kind of spaces that you need those things change over time and we’re paying attention to that. We’ve had beautiful stadiums open now in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. There will be things, when we get to the end of our lease here in nine or so years, I’m sure, that we’ll want to incorporate into the stadium. One possibility will be another renovation of Arrowhead.”
One thing likely preventing the Chiefs from pursuing a new stadium location is the lack of space. Hunt mentioned that as a big bonus to playing the Truman Sports Complex. He also recognizes that if the Royals move, the team could have more space to create an even better pregame experience for the fans.
“One of the great things about the Sports Complex is how big it is,” Hunt said. “That’s created the opportunity for our fans to have the tremendous tailgate experience that they have before the game each week. We’re fortunate to have that kind of built-in experience already. Obviously, if the Royals weren’t playing at the Sports Complex, it would open up more space to allow us to do some different programming that we haven’t done in the past.”
Hunt's thoughts on Mahomes family as Royals, Sporting KC and KC Current owners
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Hunt isn’t the only owner of a sports franchise in the building anymore. The Mahomes family has a stake in Sporting KC, the Royals and the KC Current now. Hunt spoke about his star quarterback and his family getting involved and giving back to the community.
“Yeah, Patrick and I, earlier this year when FC Dallas and Sporting KC were playing, we had some fun conversations before those games,” Hunt said with a smirk on his face. “Obviously, Sporting is having a great season and I wish them the best in the playoffs. I just really want to commend both Patrick and Brittany on what they’ve done to invest back in the community, whether it’s with Sporting or the NWSL team, or the Royals for that matter. . . I just really applaud their efforts and desire to get involved and support the community.”
Asked whether Mahomes had picked his brain about being an owner of a sports franchise, Hunt was convicted in his opinion that Mahomes is and will be a great owner.
“No he hasn’t, but I know he’ll be a tremendous owner,” Hunt said. “Both in the role that he has with Sporting and the Royals at this point, but also if he chose to do something bigger after his playing career is over. I know he’ll be a fantastic owner, we know he’s a very quick learner, I just hope that we’re talking about this 25 years from now.
“One of the things we’ve seen from Patrick (Mahomes) in his young NFL career is what a tremendous leader he is, right? And how well he works with different groups of people. That’s a quality that I think will serve him well if he chooses to get into pro sports ownership or any kind of business endeavor down the road. I think that’ll be a great asset for him.”
NFL's taunting emphasis is a net positive (with a catch)
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A controversial point of emphasis for NFL refereeing this season has been taunting. Asked specifically about how the NFL has done with that Emphasis, Hunt explained his feelings on the matter.
“Overall, I think the emphasis on the taunting has been a positive,” Hunt said. “It’s one of those things when you look at it from afar, it’s an easy thing to support not doing. The players, as a whole, the players have been very supportive of it. When it happens to you, when you get a flag on it on a week-to-week basis, you tend to have a little bit of a different perspective on it and a lot of times don’t feel the call was appropriate. But that’s the nature of a lot of NFL penalties as well.”
A balanced assessment from Hunt, but who knows, his thoughts on the rule could change as early as this week.
On Orlando Brown Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu contract talks
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Chiefs will be faced with some big roster decisions soon. Asked about contract talks with Orlando Brown Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu, Hunt echoed Brett Veach and emphasized that most extension talks for Kansas City won’t happen until the season has ended.
“First of all, we’ve been delighted to have Orlando (Brown Jr.) as a part of the organization,” Hunt said. “He really — he and his offensive line teammates have done a great job of really rebuilding what was a weakness for us at the end of last year. We’re very happy and glad about that decision. At this point, you really put contract issues on the backburner. Those are things that will be taken care of in the offseason.”
Asked directly about Mathieu and extending his contract, Hunt was clear that the intention remains to sign the veteran safety to a long-term contract extension.
“Those plans haven’t changed at all,” Hunt said. “It was something that we discussed with Tyrann (Mathieu) and his representative in the offseason before we started playing regular-season games. But really, once we got into the season, it’s really best for both parties to wait until the end of the year. We would obviously love to have Tyrann back, not only for his play on the field, but his leadership as well.”
Hunt proud of the resiliency of his team through 10 games
AP Photo/David Becker
The Chiefs have faced a fair amount of adversity this season and suddenly find themselves back atop the AFC West division. Hunt felt that there were some unrealistic expectations for the regular season based upon the success the team has had over the past few seasons. He’s proud of the resiliency of the team through and through to battle their way back and put themselves in the position to finish the season strong.
“Every NFL season is going to be different,” Hunt said. “Obviously, we had the experience last year where we won almost every regular-season game with the exception of an early game against the Raiders and the last game where we didn’t play the starters. And so, going into the season, I think there was the expectation that we do it again. Well, it just doesn’t work that way in the National Football League. There is too much parity, the teams are too good. Every season is going to have its ups and downs. We’re lucky to have a very resilient group of players starting with our team leaders. Tyrann Mathieu, who we talked about, Patrick (Mahomes) on offense, Travis Kelce. And then the coaching staff, I think they played a key role in sort of keeping the group together, keeping them focused on the task at hand. I think they told the guys, ‘Look if we just keep working on it, keep getting better every week, it’s going to turn our way.’ And we’ve seen that in recent weeks.”
As the team continues to build momentum, they’ll look to the leaders on the field and within the coaching staff to keep the team even-keeled.