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Chiefs appoint front-office veteran Thum as team president

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Denny Thum was named president of the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, 35 years after he took an entry-level job in the ticket office and began a career that has touched upon just about every off-the-field aspect of the team.

Thum, 57, will oversee everything but the football operation. Scott Pioli, who was hired as general manager last January off the staff of the New England Patriots, will run the football operation. Both Thum and Pioli will report to Chiefs owner and board chairman Clark Hunt.

"It's exciting," said Thum, who most recently had been executive vice president and chief operating officer. "To me, it's a whole new adventure going forward. I'm going to be pleased in working with all the other departments and getting a new focus on what the Chiefs experience and the Arrowhead (Stadium) experience really is."

Most Chiefs employees had been hoping for and expecting Hunt to appoint the well-liked Thum to the new position after Carl Peterson abruptly resigned as president and general manager in December.

Administratively, it's a big change for the team because Peterson had exercised one-man control over every aspect of the Chiefs for 20 years.

"This business has gotten way too big," said Thum, who had been named interim president after Peterson's resignation. "You can't have one person in charge of everything."

As a 35-year team employee, Thum has worked with every head coach in Chiefs history. Just two other people on the staff have been with the Chiefs longer.

"I've been given opportunities to go ahead and utilize my talents and work with this organization," Thum said. "I've been afforded opportunities to continue to grow in this organization."

Under Peterson, Thum handled all player negotiations, often working behind the scenes to soothe prickly relationships that Peterson had with some agents.

"I will be getting out of that, but I will oversee it all," Thum said. "I'll keep an eye on it, but it will be Scott's responsibility to negotiate contracts."

Thum went to work for the Chiefs as an accountant in the ticket office on May 16, 1974, just as he was graduating from Rockhurst College -- now Rockhurst University -- in Kansas City.

"When you've been in this business for as long as I have been, having new challenges is great," Thum said. "Clark giving me that opportunity is great for me.

"My goal is to try to find ways to take talented people and listen to what they say and try to improve the product we have, which is the Chiefs and the Arrowhead experience."

Also on Friday, the Chiefs opened a three-day rookie minicamp. Coach Todd Haley said all eight draft picks were on hand, including first-rounder Tyson Jackson, along with more than 20 others.

"Their heads are spinning," Haley said. "There were a lot of errors out there, to be sure. It's hard to evaluate them off one practice. But as far as the eye test, I'd say there are some guys who passed it completely. We're just going to try to find the best guys."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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