On Wednesday, Kansas City Chiefs President Mark Donovan made his traditional appearance before the media as training camp officially got underway at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri.
These sessions typically focus on the nuts and bolts of training camp - and Wednesday was no exception. But Donovan’s excitement about the coming season was plain to see.
“When you think about the Kansas City Chiefs over the past five years, you’re talking about one of the best football teams in the National Football League from a record perspective,“ he said. “And then you add to that some young and exciting players. We feel that on the business side. We feel that from the fans. There are a bunch of different examples that I can give you. The most recent is that we had our season ticket member ticket pickup party this weekend at the stadium. Coach came and spoke to the fans. It’s different. You can feel it. The excitement that [was] in that room is something that matters.”
Donovan said that head coach Andy Reid shares this excitement.
“Andy is more excited than I have seen him in a long time. And not only about Patrick Mahomes. You put Sammy Watkins out there, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt… if you’re an offensive coordinator with the mind that he has and the creativity that he likes to bring to this game, that gets you excited. And that goes back to Brett Veach and what he’s done and how they work together.”
Donovan was then asked how he can tell Reid is excited.
“The conversations we have about what we could do, he’s looking at a lot of options he may not have looked at in the past. He’ll say, ‘Well, we could probably do that because of the athletes we have on the field and the way they match up together, so we might take a shot here and try to develop this play,’ versus not having all of those tools. And it’s not just Mahomes. You put Sammy Watkins on the field with everybody else, it creates some stress for the defense.”
Donovan said that the acquisition of Patrick Mahomes has had an impact on ticket sales, but was quick to point out that it isn’t the only factor.
“Any time you can change the way we have, and bring in an exciting young player - a high draft pick - it’s going to have an impact. It clearly has. The way we look at the data and the information - and what we track - Mahomes is a big part of it. But he’s not the only part of it. When you think about the moves Brett made in the offseason, bringing in guys like Kendall Fuller and Anthony Hitchens that we think will make a big difference - Coach could go through the list better than I can - there are a lot of exciting players that have been added to a very good football team.”
The Chiefs are now in their ninth year of conducting training camp at Missouri Western. The Chiefs are currently in negotiations with the university for 2019 and beyond. But Donovan — while not ruling out the possibility that the Chiefs could go a different route in the future — remained positive about the team’s relationship with Missouri Western.
“We love it up here,” he said. “We’ve got a coaching staff, general manager and football operations staff that sees value in going away for camp. Many of the NFL clubs are going back to their facilities [for training camp] and that’s always an option for us. But we see a lot of value in being here - beyond what Missouri Western does for us as a football team and an operation, and that will be something that goes into the evaluation.
“I think that from our side, it works really well, because we can get through a camp, make sure that everything went as we expected it to go, make sure that there aren’t any issues - and admittedly, there have been some issues that we had to address to make it continue to make sense. But that’s where the partnership [with Missouri Western] really comes into play, because the relationships we’ve developed and their understanding of how we work makes those discussions easier.
“There are difficult issues. There are significant financial issues. There are issues that involve the state, county and city that we count on the university to help us get through. And they’ve done it.”