Once upon a time, former KC Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson practically ruled Kansas City…
He ran all things Chiefs for 20 years – from 1989 – 2008. And give the man credit, he sold out Arrowhead every week from 1990-2008. He hired head coaches Marty Scottenheimer, Gunther Cunningham, Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards. And the team was 176-141-1 during Carl’s tenure.
The stadium got remodeled; the Chiefs became a regular in the post seasons and Carl found big stars like Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Tony Gonzales.
Simply put Carl put the Chiefs back on the map after nearly 20 years of losing seasons.
Peterson fell out of favor with Clark Hunt after his father passed away. In part due to failure to win in the post season with a record of 3-9 in the playoffs and only one AFC title game that the Chiefs lost.
And make no mistake, Carl was not the easiest man to get along with.
He had a reputation of being, uh, difficult and was hard on those he had run-ins with.
I should know.
When I ran Stanford’s in Westport and was asked to do the Chiefs pep rallies I had to deal with Carl. Oh boy.
At first we got along until the events got so big and became a major press event.
We took over Red Fridays which had not been a big deal before Westport held the events outdoors. Bill Nigro and my staff did all of them from 1994-98.
But when the crowds grew to 20,000 plus, Carl began to turn on me.
He wanted total control of the awards and who was on the stage from players to celebrities.
In 1995 I chose the all time best Chiefs awards: Len Dawson quarterback, Bobby Bell best defender, Jan Stenerud best kicker so on.
Carl was on stage with Lamar Hunt and myself when I was bringing them to the stage to receive their plaques and Peterson was pissed cause he wanted different players given the awards than I chose. Like Derrick Thomas for best linebacker over Bobby Bell and Joe Montana over Len Dawson. I didn’t agree and the hate game was on.
Carl didn’t want Westport to have Red Fridays anymore and moved it to the River Market.
There he made it a family event = no more Playmates, movie stars, comics or Navy Seals dropping from the sky…instead they had a petting zoo and just players being introduced as well as Chiefs Cheerleaders on stage.
Westport decided to keep the event and Hearne dubbed it Outlaw Red Friday.
Carl was pissed when our events had thousand and his had just a few hundred and only few of the players. Whereas Westport got all the players – even Joe Montana.
Peterson then asked players not to go to Westport – especially Stanford’s. Needless to say our brief friendship ended badly. We did Red Fridays until the Chiefs fell apart in 1998 and the crowds dropped off. Until recently they’ve never been as big a deal since.
In some ways he was the silent mayor of Kansas City.
When President Bush came to Kansas City it was Carl Peterson with George Brett who went alone to meet the president at the airport and escort him into town.
Carl ruled the Chiefs and anything else he was involved with in Kanas City with an iron fist. As his star fell with the Chiefs losing and his reputation as a bully got louder, the new Chiefs owner decided to end the Peterson era in 2008. Carl was let go and replaced by a New England Patriots executive.
That didn’t work either, did it?
Today Carl is married to KC gal Lori Larson, they lived in Kansas City Missouri and were regulars at all the top KC Plaza restaurants. In fact Carl co-owned George Brett’s on the Plaza for a couple years.
I know, because we were chosen to open a comedy club next door at the former Putch’s 210, but Carl nixed the idea.
We never made up.
I tried to a few times for Westport’s sake.
I’d run into Carl at City Hall awards events but few words were ever spoken. I guess once you cross him that’s it.
Oh well, so we didn’t do lunch.
Today Carl’s a consultant with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and partners with Dick Vermeil Wines in Calistoga California. He’s wealthy and keeps a much lower profile.
So do you miss the man?
Hey, I give him credit as a strong businessman as well as a guy who climbed the financial and social ladders of life to the fullest. We didn’t get along, but he has my respect.
And nobody has had the impact on this city Peterson once did since.