Owner Clark Hunt listens to head coach Romeo Crennel of the Kansas City Chiefs as he speaks to the media during a press conference after the Chiefs defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-21 at Arrowhead Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Kansas …
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Clark Hunt is embarrassed, and apologetic.
Hunt, the chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs, announced the team was parting ways with head coach Romeo Crennel on Monday.
Hunt said he was “embarrassed by the poor product we gave our fans this season,” adding it was clear the franchise needed to move in a different direction.
“I want to personally apologize to our fans for our performance this season,” Hunt said. “We are blessed to play for some of the best and most passionate fans in the National Football League and they deserve better than what we gave them this season.”
The 2012 season, full of high expectations coming in, wound up being a disappointment from the start.
The Chiefs were blown out by the Falcons in their opener, trounced on the road by the Bills and needed an 18-point comeback to force overtime in their win over the Saints.
Then came a stretch of eight consecutive defeats.
Empty seats began to multiply at Arrowhead Stadium, once one of the most intimidating venues in the NFL. An organized fan rebellion paid for banners to be towed behind airplanes asking for General Manager Scott Pioli to be fired, and the majority of fans dressed in black for a home game against Cincinnati.
Nothing Crennel did seemed to work, either.
He began the season as the defensive coordinator, but fired himself and turned those duties over to linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. He benched Matt Cassel, in the fourth year of a $63 million contract, and went with Brady Quinn, who played just as poorly the rest of the season.
Injuries were numerous, turnovers plentiful, penalties crippling and blown assignments became the hallmark of a team that was rarely in games into the fourth quarter.
Then came the morning of Dec. 1, when tragedy struck.
Linebacker Jovan Belcher, a part-time starter, shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, multiple times at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. The linebacker then sped to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, who tried to talk him out of more violence.
After thanking Pioli and Crennel for his chance in the NFL, Belcher shot himself in the head.
The Chiefs played the following day against Carolina, and Crennel was praised for the way he stoically led a team in turmoil. Kansas City put together its best performance in a 27-21 victory.
It wound up being their last win, though.
The Chiefs were blown out by Cleveland, shut out by Oakland and beaten by the Colts before an embarrassing season finale against the Broncos.
It was enough to finish Crennel, and enough to put Pioli's future in jeopardy.
I want our fans to know that I will do everything I can to provide them with a dramatically better team,” Hunt said, “both next season and in the seasons to come – and our entire organization appreciates their support.”
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