Sometimes all you need is a little spark—like a Super Bowl championship … or two.
As you can imagine, we have quite a library here at Ingram’s and on our shelves resides an archive of nearly every notable business deal, transaction or development in the KC region, and much more.
To my surprise, there is not a single mention of the Royals winning the World Series in the fall of 1985. This perplexes me. It’s difficult to rationalize why this publication’s editors at that time did not embrace coverage of a world championship as a business consideration. Perhaps the mindset was that sports had less to do with business; perhaps, to them, winning a World Series, while a terrific feat, was not newsworthy in the sense of business reporting.
I can assure you Ewing Kauffman enjoyed a fairly robust dose of ROI in that era, and in recent years the Hunt family has amplified profits by ridiculous sums. I was at games Six and Seven of the World Series in 1985, and can still feel the way KC and The K exploded with energy. Interestingly, after the game, very few cars left the Truman Sports Complex right away. This was the biggest celebratory tailgate in Royals history up until that time, and until history repeated in 2015.
A city comes alive in times like these and this town has never seen anything like what we’re witnessing with the Chiefs over the past few seasons. We know how franchises might fluctuate and lose some steam. David Glass parcelled out the Royals soon after winning the World Series in 2015 and sucked the life right out of the franchise.
I know several from the current Royals ownership group, and there are some tenacious and savvy business minds driving that ship. The fans have higher expectations than what the team has yielded since being purchased, and I believe this is the year the Royals need to turn the franchise around. Fans won’t support the team nearly as much if they’re losing and they’ll jump out of their shoes when they do win.
As for the Chiefs, I was in the Huddle Club for a couple years as a kid and what a ball it was in the west end-zone seats near the field. Not long after the team moved to Arrowhead, there began a very, very long drought. I suspect you would have to be 60 or older to possibly recall the Chiefs promotional campaign called “We’re Coming Back Kansas City, Come Along.” Well, the fans didn’t. The Chiefs were horrible. Season after season, and for more than a decade.
Things are better when we win. I’ve never seen this city more alive with energy as it was during the playoffs—especially after Super Bowl LVII. The parade was crazy fun, and fortunately this year, the temperatures were more tolerable than in 2020.
Compare and contrast fan response here with major markets. Los Angeles, for example. On consecutive weekends this year, the Chiefs beat both LA teams—Rams and the Chargers. Would either team, after winning it all, generate the kind of fan response KC did?
Turns out, the answer is a clear no. Just check the media reports on empty streets lining the Rams’ parade route after last year’s Super Bowl.
With the confetti now swept up and thoughts turning to the NFL draft here in April, then preseason camp just 90 days later, it’s worth taking a minute to consider the Chiefs’ accomplishments not merely as athletic feats, but as examples of a business done right and run right.
In particular, the way an organization assesses, pays and deploys talent. When the news came last March that Tyreek Hill, KC’s Merchant of Speed, had been traded to the Miami Dolphins, fans here commenced with a wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the prognosticators were quick to declare an end to the Chiefs’ emerging dynasty in the AFC.
Brett Veach, the player personel architect, set about assembling a new board with savvy draft picks (read: affordability) and strategic addition of NFL veterans (read: experience).
Veach, it seems, was cutting the edges on new pieces of a puzzle even as he was assembling it. The doubters were having a field day. Yet after losing Hill, not only did Kansas City improve its overall record, from 12-5 in 2021 to 14-3 this year, but Mahomes threw for a personal-best 5,250 yards in the regular season (No. 1 in the NFL), hurled 41 touchdowns (again, No. 1), secured 272 first downs (again, No. 1), had the best first-down percentage among starting quarterbacks, and had 72 passes of at least 20 yards (No. 1) and 13 for at least 40 yards (No. 1). Some rebuilding.
He did plummet all the way to No. 2 in quarterback rating, at 105.2—behind the 105.5 of Tua Tagovailoa, whose career prospects in Miami improved greatly by being able to throw to … Tyreek Hill.
There are several lessons here.
First, among them, don’t listen to the “experts.” They’re usually little better at prognostication than the face-painted loon in the stands. Another: Don’t sell Veach short on his ability to assess talent. A third would be, Never—and we mean Never—Doubt or bet against Patrick Mahomes.
The biggest take-away: Secure your key pieces, give them tools to excel, and let playmakers make plays. The time will come when you might have to part ways with one of your stars—but if you’re prepared with a full pipeline, the results can yield improved team performance.
So here’s to the World Champion Chiefs, and the example they set for all of us in the quest to excel, in the office or on the field. Now let’s go do it again.
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