Posted Apr 9, 2019 at 9:07 AM
Peterson also said he owes the late Art Modell a thank-you for firing Marty Schottenheimer
When the Kansas City Chiefs hired John Dorsey as their GM in 2013, former Kansas City GM Carl Peterson told owner Clark Hunt, “That’s a very smart move.”
“I told him, ‘That’s a football guy. He knows talent,’” said Peterson, who was the team’s president and GM from 1989-2008. “I was, candidly, a bit surprised when he left here (in 2016). I’m not close with the Chiefs any longer, so I’m not sure what transpired, but I knew one thing — he was not going to be out on the street very long.
“Of course, Cleveland jumped on him right away. It proved to be a pretty smart move.”
Dorsey replaced Sashi Brown in December of 2017 and has transformed the roster, jettisoning all but 12 of Brown’s players. He has added the type of talent — and the type of optimism — not seen in Cleveland in decades.
“I’m not surprised at the players he acquired,” Peterson said in a recent phone interview. “He, like many of us, has taken a chance on some guys, like (RB) Kareem Hunt. Hopefully, the second time will be the best time for Kareem and all that. But John unequivocally recognizes and knows talent, both scouting players and personnel-wise.”
“I think he’s done a marvelous job. Like everyone else, I’m anticipating a very, very big improvement with the Browns.”
Peterson, who has been friends with Dorsey for 25 years, considers him a kindred spirit.
“We call ourselves old-time scouts,” Peterson said. “We go to practices; we do all the info-gathering with coaches and trainers and so forth. We evaluate a player’s talent and we don’t fall in love or out of love based on their performance in Indianapolis (at the NFL combine). Like they say, you don’t play the game in your underwear.”
During his two decades with the Chiefs, Peterson drafted three future Hall of Famers (TE Tony Gonzalez, OL Will Shields, DE Derrick Thomas) and acquired three others (QB Joe Montana, RB Marcus Allen and OL Willie Roaf). But one of his biggest acquisitions was head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who was coming off a successful stint in Cleveland.
“I owe the late Art Modell a thank-you,” said Peterson, who had gotten to know Schottenheimer a little bit when they were both NFL assistants in the late 1970s. “When I got the job with the Chiefs, he (Schottenheimer) was one of the first to call me. Marty called me and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but I just got fired by Art Modell.’ He had just done a marvelous job coaching in 1988 — I think he led them to the playoffs with a third-string quarterback in Don Strock — and he still wanted to be a head coach.
“He said, ‘I know you’re looking. Can we interview?’ Things just worked out.”
From 1989-98, Schottenheimer went 101-58-1 with three division titles, seven playoff appearances and one trip to the AFC championship, losing to the Bills in 1993. The Browns, meanwhile, advanced to the AFC championship game in their first season after firing Schottenheimer, but have won just one playoff game since then.
“It’s been unbelievably bleak over the last number of years,” Peterson said of the Browns. “I’m sure you know this, but there are only four teams who have never played in the Super Bowl and two of them are old, established teams. One is Detroit and one is Cleveland. Hopefully they’ll work toward that endeavor and get it done.”
If they do, they’ll have Dorsey to thank.
“The proof in the pudding is winning,” Peterson said. “That’s what I loved about the NFL. It’s pretty simple to measure your success. It’s in wins. I liked to tell my players and coaches and myself, ’If we can’t contribute to winning, we won’t be here.
“Cleveland has struggled for so long, and I’m not sure why, but hopefully they can break out of that. I do wish them the best, because of John. We’ll be watching. I can feel the enthusiasm in Cleveland from here.”