KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Scott Pioli, who helped build the New England Patriots’ dynasty, may have a second suitor among teams looking for general managers.
Pioli, 43, was scheduled to meet with Kansas City Chiefs owner and board chairman Clark Hunt, possibly Monday, persons with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. They requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for Pioli.
The vice president for player personnel at New England, Pioli is close to Patriots coach Bill Belichick and has been with the Patriots for nine years. He’s also been courted by the Cleveland Browns for their GM vacancy and met with Browns owner Randy Lerner last week in New York.
Pioli would find a warm welcome in Kansas City. At the last Chiefs’ home game, shortly after the embattled Carl Peterson resigned after 20 years as president, general manager and CEO, several signs were spotted in the crowd proclaiming, “We want Pioli.”
Hunt should be in good position to get a read on Pioli. One of the closest friends the 43-year-old son of Lamar Hunt has among NFL owners is Jonathan Kraft, the president of the Patriots and son of owner Robert Kraft.
While Pioli may be very high on Hunt’s list, he’s not alone. But unlike Lerner, who has willingly shared information with reporters, Hunt has kept his search almost entirely leak-proof, instructing subordinates that only he is to speak to the situation.
In his only meeting with reporters since Peterson resigned Dec. 15, Hunt said he intended to be more directly involved in Chiefs operations than in the past, but that the new general manager would have broad control of all football operations.
Hunt also said he intended to split the job Peterson had held and put a second person in charge of the team’s business operations, a plan which could conflict with Pioli’s desire to have total control.
Hunt also said he would be thorough and patient in making his first major decision since becoming board chairman following the death of his father in December 2006.
In the meantime, the fate of head coach Herm Edwards and his staff remains uncertain. In the first year of a rebuilding effort to which Hunt gave his blessing, the Chiefs suffered a rash of injuries and finished 2-14, the worst season in team history. They are 6-26 the past two years but Edwards has one year left on a four-year, $12 million contract and is lobbying to be allowed another year to get his rebuilding movement off the ground.
Hunt makes no secret of the fact he likes Edwards. But he has also said the new general manager would have “significant input” into the decision on whether to retain him.
Regardless of the coaching situation, it’s easy to see why Pioli would find the Chiefs attractive.
For one thing, they have stable ownership. The team has been in the Hunt family since Lamar founded it at the same time he helped found the old AFL 50 years ago. Clark, like his father, is not a meddler.
In addition, the Chiefs have one of the most enthusiastic and loyal fan bases in the league, and will play next year in a refurbished stadium. Arrowhead, opened in the early 1970s, is undergoing a $375 million renovation which includes a plush new headquarters building, weight and conditioning areas, and expanded indoor and outdoor practice facilities.
And along with several promising young players Edwards acquired in the past two years, the Chiefs have the third overall pick in this year’s draft.