Read what Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and head coach Andy Reid said at Training Camp on Friday in St. Joseph.
OPENING STATEMENT: “Good morning, it’s great to be here at training camp in St. Joe. I’ve had a chance to watch a couple practices this week and I think the energy has been terrific. I know (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and his staff are delighted to be back here. They think the environment is great here in terms of what they need to get done over the next three, three and a half weeks. And it’s great, also, to have our fans here. I know that players appreciate it. It brings a level of energy to the practices. I thought the guys did a great job out there today and with that I’ll open it up for questions.”
Q: On the relationship with Bayern Munich for both the Chiefs and with Hunt Sports Group.
HUNT: “Our relationship with Bayern Munich started with our MLS club, FC Dallas. We established a partnership about four years ago that was focused on youth player development. They ended up buying a player from our academy named Chris Richards who just transferred to the (English Premier League) EPL, so it has been a very successful partnership. And as the NFL went through the process of making the decision to go to Germany, obviously Bayern’s really the biggest sporting brand in Germany and so having that relationship was very advantageous for us. We’ve talked for a number of years about hopefully the Chiefs having the opportunity to play in Allianz Arena. It’s not going to happen this year, but we hope here in the next couple years that it will.”
Q: This being an election year do you have a feeling about players taking a position endorsing a candidate or ballot item?
HUNT: “We encourage our players to be civically active and that’s something they are doing as individuals on their own behalf. I certainly applaud that. Obviously, politics are very divisive and so there are going to be people on both sides of the issue when a player endorses somebody, but we support their efforts and encourage them to get involved.”
Q: A lot of new leadership across Missouri Western State and St. Joe. What has it been like meeting some of the new folks? And what have the discussions been like on your end as far as the future of the relationship with the University to hold camp in St. Joe?
HUNT: “Well, we’ve been here over a decade with the one exception during COVID. And it has been fantastic for the team. Andy and his staff have really enjoyed being here. I mentioned at the onset that they believe that this environment is really conducive to getting the guys ready. The University has been very responsive over the course of our relationship in terms of making changes to help the experience be better. From my vantage point, so far, this has been one of the best starts to camp. It’s something that we’ll evaluate once camp is done, we do that every year and certainly I hope we’ll be back in the future.”
Q: We see a lot of teams that decide to stay home for camp, what advantage is there in your eyes to being away from the facility?
HUNT: “You’re exactly right. I think we’re one of six or seven teams now that goes away for camp as more and more have moved back to their facilities. I think there’s a bonding process that happens when you put the team in a dorm room for three and a half weeks. You don’t have the comforts of home. There’s a chance to really focus on football. Not 24/7 because the guys do have some time off, but probably 12 hours a day they’re focused on football. They’re together, they’re talking about football, they’re encouraging each other to get better. They have the interaction with coaches throughout the day and the rest of the staff. I really think it’s a positive and hope that we’ll be able to come back as I mentioned.”
Q: How often do you talk to Patrick Mahomes throughout the offseason in terms of roster and who’s here? Can you explain how those conversations have developed this offseason compared to when he was trying to get established in the NFL?
HUNT: “Patrick (Mahomes) is maturing as a player and as a leader. And he’s somebody who very early on took a leadership role in our locker room. He and (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and General Manager Brett Veach have a very special relationship. I wouldn’t say that I speak to him a lot about the composition of the roster, but I know Coach Reid and Brett keep him in the loop and listen to his opinion. He’s very mature, really beyond his years and sort of sees the big picture so they’re glad to have his input. And obviously given his importance to the team, I think it’s important that he have a word or say in the decisions we are making.”
Q: How do you see that maturation over the past few months in ways that impress you or that you can just tell that he is growing in that role within the organization?
HUNT: “Hearing second hand from Brett Veach about the conversations that they’ve had about the team. I think that question would be better for Brett when you have a chance. I think he would give you a better answer on it. But I would just go back, he understands the big picture and is not real short-term focused in his thinking. So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
Q: Lamar Hunt was so big on soccer in the United States, what do you think his reaction would be to the World Cup being played at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium?
HUNT: “I think he would be over the moon, literally. I think you guys have heard me mention before that GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium was his favorite place on earth. He played such an important role in the growth of soccer in the United States, going all the way back to the 1960s. He was a believer long before others that the sport would succeed here. I know he really enjoyed the 1994 World Cup that came to the United States, but there weren’t games in Kansas City. There were games in Dallas. As a family, we pretty much went to every venue during the ‘94 World Cup. I know he would be so excited to host games at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium primarily for the fans. The fans in the midwest are going to have a chance with a short drive to come see world class soccer and really one of the greatest spectacles in the world.”
Q: Are the seats are going to come out and in over a two-year period?
HUNT: “Yeah, I think we have a good plan on that. We’re going to have to be very focused on the timeline to make sure that we get it done. That is why it is going to happen over a two-year period. We do have to alter the stadium so we can put in a regulation sized soccer field.”
Q: It seems like every team has an alternate helmet or different color jerseys. Why is it so important for you all to keep the traditional look that you have?
HUNT: “Well, part of our mission statement is to honor tradition. Part of that tradition is the Chiefs colors – red and white and the gold stripe. My dad was always very focused on making sure that our uniforms stayed consistent, which if you go all the way back to the beginning, it has changed very little. I think a fan, no matter where they are – whether the United States or now overseas – when they see the red and gold, they know exactly what team that is. I think that’s very important for the brand.”
Q: On the renovation process at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
HUNT: “That process is ongoing. We are very hopeful that we will be able to renovate GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium when the time comes. We’re probably still a year plus away from being able to make that determination. What I’ve learned through the process is that it is not a very simple answer when you’re trying to make a decision about whether a building can go another twenty-five or thirty years, starting in eight years from now. We’re being very methodical about it. We want to get to the right answer because it is very important.”
Q: Making sure I’m getting this right, the goal is to stay at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and just renovate it?
HUNT: “Yes, that would be our number one priority. We’re going to evaluate all the options, obviously. We got to figure out what’s best for the franchise, what’s best for the fanbase, but it starts with evaluating GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. And that’s where we are right now.”
Q: You mentioned a minute ago that (General Manager) (Brett) Veach, (Head Coach) (Andy) Reid and (Patrick) Mahomes have a special relationship. What have you seen over the years that leads you to say that?
HUNT: “I know (Patrick Mahomes) he and Brett have very frequent communication because when I’m speaking to Brett on a weekly basis he has had a conversation with Pat on something that’s important to the team. I think that communication between the two of them is very unique and special. And obviously he and Andy are talking all the time. I think their conversations are more about scheme and what we can do to get better on the field, what we can do to take on a specific opponent. But they have a very close relationship. And then I just go back to the fact that we have such a good relationship between our head coach and GM. So, you’ve got the three most important people associated with the team that are very close together which I think is part of why we’ve been so successful over that last four years.”
OPENING STATEMENT: “Alright, as far as injuries go, really, we didn’t have any other than the three that I’ve mentioned before: (Rashad) Fenton, (Lucas) Niang, Prince (Tega Wanogho). (They) were the only ones that didn’t go. Everyone else went. Good day today. It was a little bit longer practice – by rule. We have another one tomorrow. Tomorrow will be our last one in shells with the ramp-up period. So, we’ll come back, Sunday will be off, Monday we’re back in with pads on. Alright, so with that though, great competition. I like the energy level. Offense is making plays. Defense is making plays. We’re getting better every day and that’s the objective here. Anyways, with that, time’s yours.”
Q: What will be Carlos Dunlap’s role?
REID: “I should have mentioned Carlos (Dunlap) at the beginning here. Carlos won’t be here until, I think he gets here next Wednesday. He’s got some things he has got to take care of before he gets up here. But his role will be, he’ll work into the mix at the defensive end position. It’s a nice addition. Obviously, he has been doing this awhile and he can still roll. So, we look forward to bringing him in into the mix there and going.”
Q: What did you take away from you conversation the other night when you met with Dunlap?
REID: “He’s very smart. He has been around. Obviously, he’s seen a lot. He kind of knows what he’s looking for. He has visited a couple of different teams, but I think he liked what he saw. And we liked what we saw, so (we) signed him up.”
Q: Similar to Melvin Ingram, what does he bring to that defensive line room?
REID: “Yeah, so, you have the experience. Now, he and Chris (Jones) work out at the same place, so they know each other. There’ll be a familiar face when he comes in at least. But, he brings some senior leadership in there and experience.”
Q: What have you seen behind the scenes with Joshua Williams that makes you feel comfortable taking reps with the one’s?
REID: “Yeah, listen, I think he’s a good player. (We) got to see, now. We got to see how this thing goes as the numbers build up here. He looks (like he has) good skill. We’ll see how it goes.”
Q: What would you say about Williams not playing “pro-level” skill at the college level?
REID: “Yeah, well, I think he’s come out here and shown that he can do that. And he’s not shying away. He’s a big kid for that position. He’s a big kid. He can run long. I think he’s very, very smart. (He’s) just (an) innately smart kid. And so, he’s been able to pick it up. The mental part of it, he has been able to pick up. He has been working a couple of fundamental things. And like I said, he’s smart, so he’s looking at himself and he’s saying, ‘I got to get better at this.’ You can see him out here working.”
Q: What did you see out of the wide receivers today?
REID: “So, we have some experience. (These) guys have played in games. They’re new faces, but there are not a ton of young guys that are playing in those spots. It’s just a matter of Pat (Mahomes) and the receivers being on the same page. The more they do it, the better they’re going to be. And then with Skyy (Moore) being the young kid, he made a couple of nice plays. And again, it’s him learning the game. He’s very strong. You can see he has great feet and (he’s) very strong in the core area. That’s going to come in handy for him as he goes through this.”
Q: How have you seen Roderick Johnson settling into the left tackle position?
REID: “I like Rod. He doesn’t say much. You don’t want him in the tent here because you’re not going to hear much. But, he’s a good, solid player. I mean we’re not set. We still have the Orlando (Brown) thing out there. But, you could go play with Roderick. I mean he can jump in there and play the game. I like what I’m seeing. I look forward to seeing him in pads, but he has got some experience so I know what he can do.”
Q: What have you seen away from the field from Patrick Mahomes and his leadership with the new guys?
REID: “Yeah, so, he has really taken to that and stepped up his game in that role. I think he’s a great communicator. And he’s using that skill to talk to these new players. And so, that’s different for him, right? I mean this is a new thing for him with the number of guys that are coming in that are new. But I think he’s handling all that great. He’s a tremendous leader – he has always been that. And he’s working hard. He’s going to be here early, leave late, that whole deal. So, he exhausts the game while he has the opportunity to do that.
Q: Does it surprise you at all that people still don’t consider Mahomes a “Tier 1” quarterback?
REID: “Yeah, listen, I mean a lot of coaches have to teach guys how to roll out and call plays. We just do it. He just does it. He’s tremendous. No, listen, I know you guys look at Pro Football Focus and all those things, just take a peek at that and see how many times he hits his second receiver (laughter).”