Money men (cont.)
Posted: Monday July 2, 2007 12:15PM; Updated: Monday July 2, 2007 4:42PM
15. Clark Hunt, Chiefs
After taking over for his father, Lamar, who died last December, it looks like Clark will have to wait a bit to make a splash with the on-field product: The Chiefs are obviously in rebuilding mode, recently trading quarterback Trent Green and still shopping All-Pro halfback Larry Johnson. But those who know Hunt well say he is a shrewd, demanding manager who is unlikely to show the same blind loyalty to team president Carl Peterson that his father did.
Be it Peterson's or Hunt's fault, the Chiefs bungled the trade of Green. Rather than quietly deal him when he had some perceived market value, the team let it be known that Green wasn't in their plans, causing them to get into a prolonged staredown with the Dolphins. That aside, Hunt has done a nice job overseeing renovations at Arrowhead Stadium and could emerge as a major influence in owners' circles.
16. Bob Harlan/Green Bay Packers Inc. (Brett Favre)
No, Favre doesn't actually own the Packers -- he just acts like he does. Or, more accurately, he is allowed to act that way by the people with nominal power in the organization, and the quarterback's drawn-out departure seems destined to drag down the franchise as a result.
As for the men in suits: Harlan, the 70-year-old CEO of the league's sole publicly owned team, had planned to step aside for team president John Jones. But Jones was placed on administrative leave in May -- four days before he was supposed to take over -- meaning Harlan will stay on until another successor is in place. The good news is that the Packers have already pulled off a successful renovation of Lambeau Field and are on strong footing financially.
17. Woody Johnson, Jets
To Johnson's credit, he tries hard and seems to have scored with last year's hiring of Eric Mangini as coach. But Johnson's peers don't believe he's especially deft when it comes to high-level business maneuvers. Though his joint deal with the Giants on the new stadium in Jersey is a 50-50 proposition on paper, many NFL insiders think he got played. "Because it's in Giants' country, the Jets will still be second-class citizens there," says one owner. "He should've figured out how to do a Westside stadium. It's New York -- you could get people to build one out there."
18. Bud Adams, Titans
Last year I ripped Adams for two things -- being on the verge of firing coach Jeff Fisher, and mandating the selection of Young with the No. 3 overall pick because of his ongoing feud with the city of Houston. Uh, let's see -- there's always his marvelous mane.
With Young emerging as a rookie standout and Fisher doing another stellar coaching job, the Titans nearly pulled off an unlikely playoff berth in '06, and both men are here to stay. Give Adams credit for getting rid of longtime general manager Floyd Reese, with whom Fisher had clashed for years, and replacing him with Mike Reinfeldt. But take away points for Adams' refusal to allow the team to spend a second consecutive training camp at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., this summer because he didn't want to spend an extra $200,000.
19. Arthur Blank, Falcons
Blank's another guy who's fun to talk to, and I like his intensity level and willingness to spend, but somebody has to say what Blank himself must be starting to realize by now: He is the league's most conspicuous enabler. From pushing around the injured Michael Vick in a wheelchair on the Georgia Dome sidelines in 2003 to excusing virtually every irresponsible move the quarterback has made, Blank has done his franchise and its fans a disservice.
In football, no one player is bigger than the team, but Blank spent years giving everyone the opposite impression. Even after the horribly timed Matt Schaub trade to the Texans -- and even though the following defies conventional wisdom, because he'd get nothing in return (other than a chance to cut his losses) -- Blank should swallow hard and make a statement by cutting Vick -- the inevitable grievance from the players' association be damned.