Born: May 26, 1943
In the midst of building the Kansas City Chiefs’ Golden Era of the 1990s and early 2000s, team president and general manager Carl Peterson met a man who was about to build the Golden Era of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
That was then-CEO & Executive Director Jerald Andrews, who invited Peterson to attend induction ceremonies.
“It takes a lot of work, preparation and patience,” Peterson said. “You have to be committed to doing it well. And the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame does a great job of that. (Listening to inductee’s stories) always inspires me. And Jerald was the catalyst of all of that!”
You could say that he also inspired the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which is why it is proud to bestow its President’s Award on Peterson at the Kansas City Enshrinement of 2023.
The award is presented to individuals who champion the Hall of Fame and sports in general in the Show-Me State.
Peterson (MSHOF 2005), who oversaw the Chiefs from 1989 to 2009, has been a great friend of the Hall of Fame. That has been especially true through the financial support of Chiefs inductees and the campaigns toward bronze busts for former coaches Hank Stram and Dick Vermeil as Missouri Sports Legends.
Peterson also continues to take time to record videos in honor of Chiefs being honored. In 2021, he traveled to Springfield for the Enshrinement Ceremonies and delivered the acceptance speech for the late Derrick Thomas, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
However, that is only a snapshot of the support he has given to the Hall of Fame, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit which has relied on private donations since 1994. Andrews and Peterson were introduced in 1998 by Bill Grigsby.
“Meeting Carl Peterson was a life-changing event for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame,” said Andrews, who in July 2022. “Carl spoke for us at a football breakfast and was a major hit with those in attendance. He did so many things for us that helped advance our work. Many times, we would sell four Chiefs tickets, we would have a jet donated to take the people to the game and Carl would put them on the field before the game!”
Understand, Peterson had a bigger job to do.
When hired in 1989, the Chiefs had reached the playoffs only once (1986) in 16 years. Fortunately, Peterson’s hiring of coach Marty Schottenheimer (MSHOF 2010) led to the Chiefs enjoying 15 winning seasons in the next 20 seasons, including nine playoff berths, with a record of 176-141-1.
He also invigorated the fanbase, as he promoted and supported tailgating and saw to it that players were part of the community. Overall, the Chiefs sold out 149 consecutive games from 1990 to 2008 and led the AFC in paid attendance every year during that time frame.
Upon his arrival, the Chiefs had less than 23,400 season-ticket holders for the nearly 80,000-seat stadium. That apathy led Peterson to brokered deals with players to get involved in community events.
Take Thomas, for example. He was a first-round draft pick as a linebacker, and his pre-draft workout remains legendary. As Peterson recalls, Thomas never tired no matter what then-defensive coordinator Bill Cowher threw at him, and then would ask what he could do next for Peterson, Schottenheimer and Cowher.
Recognizing that undefeatable and upbeat personality, Peterson personally asked Thomas to move full-time to Kansas City and get involved in the community as a rookie.
“Derrick was like the son I never had,” Peterson said. “I knew we had quite a job to do, and he was willing to do it.”
At one point, Chiefs players had 37 not-for-profit charitable foundations. And, to enhance the fan outreach, Peterson and owner Lamar Hunt would walk the parking lot on game days to meet fans as they tailgated.
Charities have long meant a lot to Peterson, who in retirement led USA Football for 7 ½ years for the NFL. And he still answers the call for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame today.
“It serves a very worthwhile purpose into spotlighting the numerous and different sports and personalities in the state of Missouri,” Peterson said of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. “I’ve always felt sports is a very healthy outlet for every community. It has a way of galvanizing and bringing people together from all walks of life.”
Said Andrews, “During my tenure with the Hall of Fame, Carl played a major role that put the Hall of Fame on a trajectory that would not have been possible otherwise.”