A Good Man Is Gone … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs lost a good man on Tuesday. Maybe I should say another good man.

In the continuation of a process that he started in December 2008, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt’s slice and dice of his team’s front office claimed another victim with the resignation of team president Denny Thum.

From the time his position was marginalized within the organization last year when he was named president without power, it was only a matter of time before Thum’s almost 40-year run with the Chiefs would end. Why Hunt would want to chase away a man with the talents and experience of Thum is beyond comprehension.

It tells us that this revamp of the Chiefs had nothing to do with competency and everything to do with throwing out the old and bringing in the new. That is Hunt’s right as the leader of the ownership family to make these moves, and to do it for whatever reasons. Unfortunately, that approach has cost his franchise some very talented people, men and women who were extremely connected, talented and loyal to the Chiefs.

None more so than Thum; if you want a definition of a good soldier for the Hunt family over the last four decades you need only look at Thum’s record and accomplishments. Hired after his graduation from Rockhurst College, Thum worked his way up on the business side of the organization. First Jim Schaaf and then Carl Peterson gave Thum the chance to handle business issues on the football side of the team. Along the way, there were opportunities for Thum to go to other NFL teams, but he always turned those down.

He became one of the best negotiators in the league, and he and Peterson played the role of Good Cop (Thum) and Bad Cop (Peterson) to perfection. Gifted with a remarkable quantity of patience Thum was always able to get a deal done simply by never giving up.

“There are people in the league that you negotiate with that you don’t really trust,” former Chiefs player and super agent Tom Condon said several years ago. “With Denny, you trust him and the words that come out of his mouth. If he says something was going to be a certain way, that’s how it is. He never went backwards. He always tried to push things forward.”

When the salary cap came into the NFL in 1994, Thum became one of the best cap managers in the league. Remember at this time, the Chiefs had some big contracts rolling through their payroll, players like Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Elvis Grbac, Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez, Trent Green and others. It was Thum who had to juggle the contracts to fit under the cap regulations. He was one of the league’s best.

All of that continued through the 2008 season, until Peterson resigned and left the team. Pioli was hired as the team’s general manager and from the start he did not want Thum involved in the salary cap or negotiations with agents or players. Hunt allowed this to happen, giving up the experience and talents of Thum that would have been a help to any NFL team, but especially one with a rookie general manager.

Thum was given the title of team president, but Pioli shut off any involvement on the football side and more and more of the business side was operating through COO Mark Donovan. Thum could have easily left the Chiefs and would not have been out of work long. But his loyalty to the Hunts and the organization were such that he stayed and learned to deal with a very difficult situation.

But as it’s been shown many times over the last two years, loyalty and passion no longer matter in the Chiefs organization. What does matter is change, in many cases change for the sake of change, rather than improving the organization and how it operates.

Sadly, that approach has cost them another good man and one of the most talented people in the National Football League.


  • BEARS – will place LB Hunter Hillenmeyer on the injured-reserve list.
  • BRONCOS – acquired RB Laurence Maroney in a trade with the Patriots in exchange for a 4th-round draft choice in 2012; released injured WR Brandon Stokley with an injury settlement.
  • BUCCANEERS – released DE Erik Lorig.
  • CARDINALS – released FB Jerome Johnson; re-signed FB Reagan Maui’a.
  • DOLPHINS – rookie DE Jared Odrick suffered a broken fibula and could miss anywhere from two to six weeks; released DL Clifton Geathers; re-signed OLB Erik Walden; signed DL Lionel Dotson off the Broncos practice squad.
  • FALCONS – released C Rob Bruggeman.
  • 49ERS – released CB Tramaine Brock; re-signed WR Jason Hill.
  • GIANTS – released LB Bryan Kehl; promoted TE Bear Pascoe from the practice squad.
  • JETS – lost DT Kris Jenkins for the season with a torn ACL; released RB/WR Danny Woodhead; re-signed WR David Clowney.
  • PACKERS – signed RB Dimitri Nance off the Falcons practice squad; re-signed DE Jarius Wynn; placed RB Ryan Grant (knee) and DE Justin Harrell (knee) on the injured-reserve list, ending their seasons.
  • PATRIOTS – acquired the Broncos fourth-round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft in a trade for RB Laurence Maroney.
  • RAMS – released DE Jermelle Cudjo; re-signed TE Darcy Johnson.
  • RAVENS – released injured K Todd Carter; signed K Rhys Lloyd.
  • SEAHAWKS – released DB Kennard Cox; placed G Max Unger on the injured-reserve list (toe), ending his season; re-signed OL Mansfield Wrotto.
  • TEXANS – placed DE Connor Barwin (ankle) on the injured-reserve list, ending his season; released DE Tim Jamison; signed DE Ryan Denney, formerly with the Bills; signed DE Adewale Ogunleye, last with the Bears.

15 Responses to “A Good Man Is Gone … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 15, 2010  - Steven says:

    Denny Thum’s departure is just as big as you describe it, Bob. Few businessmen who routinely negotiate for high stakes contracts have the reputation for honesty and trustworthiness that Thum has. Given that Pioli comes from the Belichick tradition of “hide the ball” it makes you wonder if Pioli is uncomfortable with above-board and squeaky-clean business dealings. Leaders like Thum are one reason the Chiefs haven’t been part of something like the $500K fine for Belichick and $250K fine for the Patriots for the Spygate sideline tapings that occurred while Pioli was with the Patriots.

  • September 15, 2010  - Michael says:

    Sorry to see Denny go, but like most business, people move on and things change. Denny was great for the Chiefs, but Clark isn’t his father and has a different way of doing things. Get use to it.

  • September 15, 2010  - Petey says:

    Unfortunately Bob, this is the way of the world now. Loyalty and passion are great when you are needed, but the wind changes direction and you find yourself on the outside looking in wondering what happened.

    I tried to explain this to my Dad the other day, who has been with his job for 35+ years and he didn’t believe me, I guess he didn’t want to believe me. The Chiefs are a corporation and are being run as cut-throat as every other corporation in this country. Loyalty is for suckers anymore.

    On that note, thanks Denny for working so hard over the years to try to help put the best team possible on the field.

  • September 15, 2010  - Paul says:

    Laurence Maroney was traded to the Broncos??? What in the heck does Josh McDaniels think he’s getting out of that trade? Maroney is injured far too often to be considered a worthy acquisition I’d think. He’s pretty good when not injured, but he’s not someone I’d try to go out and get by trading away one of my draft picks. … *shrugs* Maybe he’ll fit better in a two back system behind Moreno. Whatever, because it continues to look like the Broncos are falling deeper into disarray and the Chiefs are climbing further and further towards the top.

  • September 15, 2010  - Tim says:

    Mr. Thum will certainly be missed, but nothing is forever, Bob. The Chiefs organization had to change. There can be all the arguments/points you want. The fact remains that sometimes to move forward, you have to have “addition by subtraction”. I suspect that is the case here. Mr. Thum knew it & did the right thing.

  • September 15, 2010  - el cid says:

    Maybe Mr Thum wanted to finish his part of the Lamar legacy. He did not fit with the new bunch from Clark on down. So after he was part of the remodeling of Arrowhead (really dedicated to the past Lamar, Hank, Len, and the old greats) and the MNF spotlight on the Chiefs, why not walk away with your head high rather than wait to be sent out the back door?

  • September 15, 2010  - Brandon says:

    40 years is a pretty good run with any employment. I thank him for the 90s Chiefs and wish him the best in his retirement or whatever he chooses to do.

  • September 15, 2010  - Aloha Ray says:

    “But as it’s been shown many times over the last two years, loyalty and passion no longer matter in the Chiefs organization.”

    Mr. Gretz, that’s a conclusion completely unsubstantiated by the facts that you present. Before you impune the integrity of Mr. Hunt you should either tell us the facts you have learned that led you to this conclusion, or at the minimum tell us that you know things and are unwilling to publish them.

    I have no idea what happened — what facts were available to the Mr. Hunt that are unavailable to me (and you). Looking at the timing I might conclude, however, that this was a move that Mr. Hunt wanted to do when he hired Mr. Pioli, but instead decided to reward Mr. Thum with the opportunity to see the renovation of the stadium through to the end.

    Lastly, maybe Mr. Hunt just plain made a mistake. That’s still no excuse to traduce his reputation.

  • September 15, 2010  - Barry says:

    Apparently according to the Star, his assistant is no longer with the team as well. My guess is their is more to this than what is out there. What most people dont realize is Bob’s wife once worked in the Chiefs front office. She did for quite some time. Bob does have some insight that alot of people dont.

  • September 15, 2010  - RickyP says:

    Maybe that quote should be accredited to Mrs. Gretz, then Barry! “once worked in the Chiefs front office” doesn’t sound like it has any relevance to “shown many times over the LAST TWO YEARS, loyalty and passion no longer matter in the Chiefs organization”.

    That Bob has an ax to grind with the new management is blatantly obvious and though I still love his insight into the goings on with the Chiefs, I do believe he would be better served without the snide remarks.

  • September 15, 2010  - Edward says:

    Didn’t know this guy much but read his comments about the team and he seems like a class guy. Bob you got to understand this is a business Denny may have been a great guy but at the end of the day its a business and Thum just didn’t fit with new regime. If he’s truly a good front office guy he’ll find another job and also be somewhere where he’s wanted which is always a good thing.

  • September 15, 2010  - Edward says:

    As far as loyalty goes it only last as long as people feel you can do the job. The moment you can’t they get rid of you. That goes for sports, business, or any other job or profession. So Bob I disagree with your commments about the organization because loyalty last as long as your ability to do the job that being said Mr Thum will find another job if he really is a good front office guy. That being the case it’ll be better for him in the long run to go somewhere where he’s wanted.

  • September 15, 2010  - Jonathan says:

    Bob I know you are upset by the current regime of the Chiefs but you are wrong to say loyalty and passion are not longer appreciated by the Chiefs. This is a new regime so loyalty and passion is valued in a different way. Lamar was loyal and passionate to a fault which led to the Chiefs having some of their worst years. Clark has stated that he is different from his father so things Lamar would have tolerated he won’t. He wants the Chiefs to succeed just like the rest of us. I thank Denny for his outstanding service to Kansas City and wish him success in his future endeavors.

  • September 16, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Is in fact ax grinding taking place in this column? His comments on this and most everything else are frank, even blunt, observations.

    If Bob is privy to inside info, it may well have come from any number of sources within the organization. He covered the Chiefs for years while with the Star and was their on the field radio guy for well over a decade thereafter. He knows people on the inside.

    This is football, not the Nixon White House, even though there certainly is an effort to minimize leaks.

  • September 16, 2010  - Russell says:

    Another Ex: of why business doesn’t mix well with virtue. It use to, and does when it serves the “business” plan. But to cast judgement on CH w\o knowing private meetings, etc. it is pure speculation. Brutal but true to form. Clark Hunt has every right to manage this his way. Remember Mrs. Lamar has a STAKE in this team. She had to of signed off on this, plus over dinner they could have given D Thum a gracious Thank You for all we know….

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