I know many of you may not agree with me on this article. I know a lot of you felt like the tribute and speech last night were great. I have been debating whether or not to post this article. I have gone back and looked at the transcript of Peterson's speech and I admit it reads better to me than it did when I heard it. However, I am going to stick with my initial impression here. You only get one first impression of something and looking around the site I have seen a couple of people who noticed the same things I did. Thus, I have decided to post this article and give voice to those who had the same feelings I did.
I am so happy that Derrick is no in the hall, where he belongs. Not to rain on the parade but here is my reaction to last nights ceremony. Should be good for some healthy debate on this day with no practice reports.
Derrick Thomas deserved better.
I wanted to write this last night but I decided to sleep on it. I thought that I might feel differently today. I am, after all, full of Irish temper and once I get going it is often hard to stop me. However, it late and I was tired so I gave myself the chance to cool down.
I woke up at 6:30 A.M. here on the east coast. It was earlier than I rise for work, which is not my typical weekend routine. I brewed up some coffee and quietly slid on to the couch so as not to wake my sleeping girlfriend. After accidentally spilling some coffee on the couch and then, cursing about it, I logged in to Arrowheadpride.com. My already foul mood worsened when the first thing I saw was a picture of Carl Peterson.
I was never as big a Carl Peterson hater as most Chiefs fans. My evolution into the obsessive, internet checking Chiefs fan I am now was slow. Originally from Cleveland, I have never had the opportunity to visit Kansas City. I missed out on the pleasure of hearing Peterson quotes and interviews when I turned on the television or opened the paper. While I followed the team with great enthusiasm I wasn’t as informed on the front office goings on until around 2003. This is when I received my fist doses of Carl Peterson doublespeak and it didn’t go down easy.
I, like everyone else, realized that 20 years of one man having total control of an organization like the Kansas City Chiefs could not be a good thing. The game is always changing and it often takes a fresh perspective to keep up with the times. Outsiders have a knack for being able to identify flaws those close to the situation are unable to see. I, like many in Kansas City rejoiced when I heard Carl Peterson was leaving town. Not so much due to a deep loathing for Peterson as for an unwavering desire for what was best for the Chiefs.
It wasn’t personal Carl. It was business.
I have heard the stories about Carl Peterson. I have heard that he was cold, selfish and arrogant. At the same time I’ve read articles by Bob Gretz defending Peterson. Gretz often claimed that the criticism of Peterson was unfair, the result of uninformed and passionate fans hungry for a Chiefs return to prominence. I always just sort of figured the truth fell somewhere in between. Perhaps Peterson wasn’t the monster he was perceived to be but I highly doubted he was the angel Gretz defending.
It wasn’t until last night that I really saw the darker side of Peterson. Actually, that may not be completely true. I recall seeing a flash of something I didn’t like when Peterson was giving his farewell address as well as simultaneously tossing Herm Edwards under the bus. This isn’t an article about Herm’s mistakes. However, Peterson should have been smart enough to realize that the problems in Kansas City started long before Herm Edwards was hired. Peterson was a professional and should have stood by his actions, right or wrong. He hired Herman and backed the rebuilding plan and like it or not, he was just as responsible for the 4-12 and 2-14 records as Edwards. The same goes for you Gunther.
I don’t doubt that most of Peterson’s speech about Derrick Thomas last evening was written with good intentions. However, after witnessing it, I am convinced there are many people who could have given Derrick a more thoughtful send off than Carl Peterson. Anyone who saw the heartbreaking images of Marty Schottenheimer last evening knows who should have been giving this final eulogy.
After all, that is what the speech should have been. Rod Woodson spoke of his past as well as his present and future at the podium. He spoke to his family and he mentioned how each of his 5 children is different. He has that luxury, the luxury to watch his children grow and change. Derrick is not here. He is not able to see the man his son has become. For those who knew him, Derrick Thomas is frozen in time, a vivid picture of a man with many, many qualities. This is what we should have been given by the person accepting the highest of professional football honors on his behalf. Instead we were given a mostly cold speech muddled with statistics and a lack of focus.
It started with a dull and disconnected video tribute. Go to YouTube and you can find a number of Derrick Thomas highlight tributes with more excitement, more feeling and frankly, better editing. Such a tribute should tell us a story with images and the words of those left behind. While the quotes from Thomas’s mother and son were interesting, they seemed out of place in this montage. There was no real focus to the video. It wasn’t taking us anywhere. The music choice was boring and the quotes were out of place. There was no cohesion whatsoever. The NFL should be ashamed of itself for not being able to put together a video of better or comparable quality to that of a fan-made tribute, pieced together in a basement in Missouri with free online editing equipment and a collection of CD’s.
Next up was Peterson. What Peterson delivered was part encyclopedia entry, part legal defense with a splash of back patting. Oh yeah, and he talked about that Derrick Thomas guy too. I could start with Peterson’s terrible oratory ability but that might be a little cruel. After all, the man is a businessperson not Marcus Tullius Cicero. Heck he isn’t even Barrack Obama, though I must admit I would rather listen to Peterson read the phone book than be forced to listen to anything that might come out of Sarah Palin’s mouth.
Being a dull, monotone speaker aside, my biggest problem with Peterson’s speech was the content. Much of his speech was filled with repetitive talking points. More troubling, however, was the unfeeling and distant nature of these types of comments. I got the impression that this man new Thomas, even cared about him, but I didn’t get much of a feel for who Thomas was as a person.
Instead Peterson through out a bunch of statistics that we already knew. He didn’t tell us what made Thomas tick. He didn’t talk much about why Thomas was the man he was. Why was Thomas the best payer on the football field? Why was he more determined than the guy lining up across from him? Was it simply because Thomas was more talented that he was so successful? I believe there must be something else, something deeper that pushes a man to work so hard to want to be a champion. Usually, for a person to rise to the level of a player like Thomas, there must be an unwavering character. I never got this from Peterson. He simply told us that Thomas was special. We already knew that. What we wanted to know was why.
Other moments I felt like Peterson was rattling off a list of his own accomplishments that Derrick Thomas happened to be a part of. He spoke at length about how many games the Chiefs won in the 90’s. He named dropped to no end. There was even an awkward stretch were he thanked a slew of his old front office cronies and colleagues on Thomas’s behalf, for what reason I am not sure. It was presumptuous and off-putting. It didn’t bring the listener in it pushed them away. I don’t know Denny Thum and his wife, I don’t know Derrick’s old agents. I didn’t show up to hear what Peterson thought Thomas might say if he was there to make the speech himself. I showed up to hear about Derrick. It just seemed in parts as if Peterson was saying, “Look how successful my team was in the 90’s. I drafted Thomas. I am responsible for that.” I felt as though, buried in that speech, was the little voice in Peterson’s head, calling out, trying to justify his other 10 years of failure in Kansas City.
The most powerful moments were the shots of Derrick’s mother and family and of Marty. Marty, who seemed to be in more anguish than anyone in the building. Marty, who seemed to still be mourning.
Derrick Thomas was an amazing football player and caring philanthropist. He did remarkable things on and off the field. What was missing from the tribute was Derrick the man.
At best, we were given an echo.
Derrick Thomas deserved better.
What did you think of DT's tribute/Peterson's speech last night?
Liked the video, not the speech. (4 votes)
Hated the video, loved the speech. (1 vote)
Loved everything. (31 votes)
The whole thing was underwhelming. (16 votes)
Speech should have been given by Marty, not Carl. (80 votes)
132 total votes