For those of a similar name, see Carl Peterson (Australian footballer) and Carl Petersen (disambiguation).
Carl D. Peterson
Career information
Position(s) General Manager
College UCLA
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1989–2008 Kansas City Chiefs

Carl D. Peterson grew up in Long Beach, California, and is an alumnus of UCLA. He is best known as the former president, general manager, and chief executive officer of the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. Peterson served in those roles from 1989–2008 and hired four head coaches for the Chiefs during his tenure: Marty Schottenheimer, Gunther Cunningham, Dick Vermeil, and Herman Edwards.

Peterson is a principal with Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross of FanVision, Inc., a new in-stadium fan technology device serving 12 NFL teams and two Division IA universities. Three BCS Bowl Games also employed FanVision's in-stadium technology in January 2011.

Kansas City ChiefsEdit

On December 19, 1988, Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt hired Peterson to take over the club's team president duties from Jack Steadman and general manager duties from Jim Schaff. On December 15, 2008, Chiefs Chairman and Part-Owner Clark Hunt announced Peterson's resignation effective at the end of the 2008 NFL season.[1] In Peterson's 20 years with the Chief's, they had only five losing seasons, a record of 176-141-1, nine playoff seasons, 149 consecutive sell-outs (1990-2008) and led the AFC in paid attendance every year from 1990.

USA Football and Youth FootballEdit

After leaving Kansas City, Peterson became the Chairman of USA Football in June 2009 at the request of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Peterson's appointment by Commissioner Goodell was met with the approval of NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Peterson's USA Football leadership position was previously held by the late AFL quarterback and U.S. Congressman Jack Kemp.[2]

USA Football is the sport’s national governing body in the United States, endowed by the NFL and NFL Players Association in 2002 through the NFL Youth Football Fund. USA Football strengthens America's favorite sport on youth and amateur levels through innovative resources to improve player, coach and youth league development. USA Football members—youth football players, coaches, commissioners and game officials—reside in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Peterson also serves on the NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF) Board of Directors, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation formed by the NFL and the NFLPA in 1998. The NFL YFF supports the game at the youth level, promotes positive youth development and ensures the health of football for future generations. Through the YFF, hundreds of thousands of youngsters have been given the opportunity to learn the game of football, get physically fit, and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors.


Peterson had been praised for hiring quality coaches, and re-establishing a winning tradition for a franchise that was moribund by the late 1980s. His most important hire was Marty Schottenheimer who led the team to their most successful period in the 1990s since the Hank Stram era. Prior to Peterson's arrival, Kansas City had only made one playoff appearance in the previous 18 years. The Kansas City Chiefs were the winningest team in the NFL for the decade of the 1990s by percentage, qualified the playoffs in six of seven seasons from 1990 to 1997, and reached the AFC Championship game following the 1993 season.

Peterson was also criticized by some fans, particularly in the second decade of his tenure, during which the team did not win a playoff game and posted greatly diminished results in the regular season. During Peterson's 20-year tenure the Chiefs failed to reach the Super Bowl, and posted only three playoff wins in 8 appearances, the most recent being against the Houston Oilers on January 16, 1994.

Peterson held his job for 20 years, which is considerably longer than most other NFL general managers, despite the team's lack of playoff success during that time. Due to his longevity as general manager, local columnist Jason Whitlock famously dubbed Peterson as "King Carl"[3][4] in the Kansas City Star, and the nickname has become a well-known moniker around the league.

Leading up to the 2007 Chiefs season, criticism was drawn to the Chiefs' attempts to trade quarterback Trent Green [5] especially towards general manager Carl Peterson's failure to execute the trade.[3][4][6] The media were also critical of Peterson and his apparent neglect to return the phone calls of Trent Green's agent, Jim Steiner, and Peterson's assertion that the then-36 year old Green was a starting quarterback in the NFL, and worth far more than the compensation the Miami Dolphins were offering.[7] On June 5, 2007, the Chiefs traded Green to the Dolphins for a conditional fifth round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.[8]

Peterson was also criticized in the 2008 season for his unwillingness to trade perennial Pro-Bowler Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez desired a playoff-level team, but Peterson demanded a trade value higher than what many teams were willing to trade. When asked for his feelings on Peterson, Gonzalez interjected prior Chiefs players who had battled with Peterson, saying, “I’m not the first guy that’s felt like he’s been wronged around here. Ask Jared Allen. Ask a lot of guys. Ask John Tait." [9] Following Peterson's resignation, Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round draft pick in 2010.[10]

Peterson was also criticized over the manner of former head coach Gunther Cunningham's firing following the 2000 NFL season. Some reports said that Cunningham only learned of his firing through media reports stating that the Chiefs were close to a deal to bring former St. Louis Rams head coach Dick Vermeil out of retirement, and others stated that Cunningham was unaware that he had been removed from his position before finding an item posted to the team's official website announcing his ouster.[11]


Kansas City ChiefsEdit

Peterson led the Chiefs for 20 seasons, one of the longest and most successful tenures for a team president, general manager and CEO in modern NFL history.

Upon his arrival to Kansas City, he made one of the most important hires in the team's history when naming Marty Schottenheimer head coach. Schottenheimer led the team to its most successful period since Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram paced Kansas City's sidelines. Prior to Peterson's arrival, the Chiefs had made only one playoff appearance in the previous 18 years. The Chiefs were the NFL's winningest team in the 1990s, won four AFC West championships, and played in the team's only AFC Championship Game in January 1994. Over Peterson's 20 years, the Chiefs' record was 176-141-1 and qualified for the NFL playoffs nine times.

Under Peterson's leadership, three Kansas City assistant coaches ultimately went on to lead teams to Super Bowl championships as head coaches: Bill Cowher (Pittsburgh Steelers; Super Bowl XL), Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts; Super Bowl XLI) and Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers; Super Bowl XLV). Peterson also hired Vermeil as Kansas City's head coach in 2001, two years after he had led the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Four current NFL team general managers also built their portfolios as members of the Chiefs' front office under Peterson: Tom Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons), Mark Dominik (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jeff Ireland (Miami Dolphins) and John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks). In addition, National Football Scouting President Jeff Foster, a Chiefs scout under Peterson, now directs the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis for all 32 NFL clubs.

Arrowhead StadiumEdit

Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Chiefs, is widely recognized as offering one of the most exciting atmospheres to enjoy NFL football and sporting events in general. However, prior to Peterson leading the Chiefs, the stadium's capacity of 79,451 often had as many empty seats as tickets sold. As Peterson changed the team's fortunes both on and off the field, attendance at Arrowhead improved dramatically. The Chiefs ultimately led the NFL in attendance for six consecutive seasons (1994–99) and the AFC every year from 1992-2008.

Under Peterson's watch, the Chiefs sold out 149 consecutive home games—including six playoff games—in one of the NFL's largest venues, despite Kansas City being the league's sixth-smallest television market. The Chiefs averaged more than 75,500 paid fans per home game during Peterson's 20-season tenure.

Beginnings and USFLEdit

Peterson’s impressive track record as a talent evaluator began during his days with the Philadelphia Eagles (1976–82) assisting head coach Dick Vermeil lead the Eagles to four consecutive playoff seasons and Super Bowl XV. He was subsequently selected to build the United States Football League’s Philadelphia Stars in July 1982. As the franchise’s president and general manager, he and head coach Jim Mora Sr. proceeded to assemble the most successful team in the league’s three-year existence, capturing USFL titles in 1984 and 1985. The Stars' 48-13-1 overall record during regular and postseason play, amassing a 7-1 postseason record, was the best of any USFL club. His efforts were rewarded in 1983 and 1984, when he was named The Sporting News' USFL Executive of the Year.

Philanthropy, activities, and awardsEdit

Peterson serves on the National Board for the Maxwell Football Club and serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Pop Warner Little Scholars organization. He is a member of the International World Presidents Organization (IWPO) and serves on the board of the Third and Long Foundation, founded by the late Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas. Peterson was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the Long Beach (CA) Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. Other honors he has received include: the 2002 Pop Warner Award for Excellence in Athletics, the 2001 Pro Football Executive Award (All-American Football Foundation), the '98 Maxwell Football Club Reds Bagnell Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Game of Football, and the '98 Special Achievement Award for Professional Athletics, presented by the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission. In 2012, Peterson won the Pete Rozelle Award presented by the Touchdown Club of New Orleans for his time as President, General Manager and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs and Chairman for USA Football


Peterson is married to the former Lori K. Larson of Kansas City, who is a senior associate with Populous Sports Architecture. The Petersons currently reside in New York City.


  1. "Chiefs GM Peterson to step down at end of season". Associated Press. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  2. Carl Peterson Named USA Football Chairman
  3. 3.0 3.1 Whitlock, Jason. Where's Trent's love? Kansas City Star, 13 May 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Whitlock, Jason. Two sides to sad Green story Kansas City Star, 24 May 2007.
  5. Merrill, Elizabeth. QB situation not a distraction for Edwards, 2 May 2007.
  6. King, Jason. It's not easy being (Trent) Green Kansas City Star, 22 May 2007.
  7. Associated Press. Green's agent says Chiefs won't return calls, 24 May 2007.
  8. Pasquarelli, Len. Green goes to Dolphins from Chiefs in trade, 5 June 2007
  9. [1] "Tony's side: Part 2--Red Zone"
  10. [2] "Chiefs trade Gonzalez for 2010 draft pick.", 24 April 2009.
  11. Dean, Rick. [3]Topeka Capital-Journal, 6 Jan 2001
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jack Steadman
Kansas City Chiefs President
Succeeded by
Denny Thum
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