KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Everything Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt has done over the past 11 months seems to have worked out. Immediately after last season ended, Hunt hired head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey and approved the trade with the San Francisco 49ers that brought quarterback Alex Smith.
One year after finishing 2-14, the Chiefs are 11-3 and tied for first place with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. They clinched at least a wild-card spot with Sunday’s 56-31 victory over the Raiders in Oakland.
Afterward, Hunt answered media questions for the first time since the season started. Here is an edited version of that interview.
Is clinching a playoff spot with two games remaining beyond your greatest expectation?
Hunt: I don’t know if it’s beyond anything that we dreamed. Certainly, it’s fantastic and I want to congratulate Andy, his coaching staff and the players and I want to say how happy I am for the fans. But I think early this year, when we saw Andy taking over the team in [offseason practices] and later training camp, it was clear to me that the process was moving faster than I had anticipated. I had no idea where it would finish but it just has built throughout the season.
Does this validate everything you’ve done over the past 11 months?
Hunt: I don’t know if it validates everything that I’ve done but I’m so pleased to see it come together like it has. Andy has done a tremendous job with the team and John Dorsey has done a great job in getting 53 guys here and it’s really more than that throughout the season who have helped contribute to it. The two of them have worked so well together and I’m so happy for both of them and the entire team for what we’ve been able to achieve.
Is this any more fulfilling because of the contrast to last year?
Hunt: Any time you’re coming off a hard year and have success, that is in some ways more fulfilling just because of the contrast between how tough it was last year. Things change incredibly fast in the National Football League. We’ve seen this not only with the Chiefs but some other teams this year as well. We know having been in the playoffs in 2010 and then having the first overall pick after last year that it can go the other way. Any time you’re fortunate to have this kind of success, it’s meaningful. To get to do it after a difficult year like last year, it means a lot for everybody.
What have you learned about Andy Reid over the last year?
Hunt: That he’s every bit the great leader that I thought he would be. The guys responded to him early on and that’s continued. It hasn’t all been easy. We went through a three-game stretch where we didn’t win a game and it was tough. But the guys knew Andy had been there and he had done it and they maintained their confidence and let him continue to lead. As a result, we’re sitting here today in the playoffs.
Does the trade for Alex Smith look better now?
Hunt: Alex continues to play better almost every week. Certainly he’s somebody Andy had a lot of confidence in and somebody that Andy felt would work very well in his offense. We see him growing into that role almost on a weekly basis. We’re delighted to have him as the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.