While Watching The Big Game, Think Of The Great Lamar Hunt


Super Bowl weekend! And the Chiefs are playing!

This is exciting news for all of Kansas City. This is terrible news for anyone owning a shop up there, like me. We may as well close our doors because nobody will be coming in. The grocery stores stay open, but they broadcast the game over their in-store PA system so nobody misses a play, even those rushing in to get bandages, baby formula or prescription medication. Chiefs fans are rabid.

And I’m appreciating the Super Bowl even more, now that I’ve done a bit of unrequired research on avid sports fan and Super Bowl legend Lamar Hunt.

Hunt, the son of an oil tycoon, was on his college football team at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, but he didn’t get to play much. Nonetheless, he was up to his ears in football, soccer and tennis. The guy loved sports and, because he had a pile of money, decided to apply for a National Football League expansion franchise.

But the NFL turned him down because back then (1959), football wasn’t as popular as baseball in America, and the NFL didn’t want to “oversaturate” the market.

Did Lamar give up? Naw. He didn’t have to! Lamar had money!

Instead, Lamar called up seven of his similarly rejected tycoon buddies, and they started up the American Football League or, as onlookers called it, “The Foolish Club.” He also immediately purchased the AFL’s Dallas Texans team for the Hunt family.

Startled, the NFL decided that not all expansion was bad and quickly established the Dallas Cowboys. Because the two teams were competing for fans — and because the NFL had more traction — Hunt decided to move his team out of Texas, but to somewhere kind of close to Texas, somewhere his private jet could get to easily.

In 1962, the Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City and, in 1963, became the Kansas City Chiefs. They even got to the Super Bowl in 1966 but, unfortunately, had to compete against my home team — the Green Bay Packers — a virtually unbeatable team, as everyone knows. (And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what happened this year. A fluke!) So, the Chiefs lost.

But it was also 1966, when the NFL and AFL decided to merge. Hunt, as a joke, started referring to the championship game as the Super Bowl, mostly because his kids were underfoot when he thought it up, playing with a toy called a Super Ball. Writers had their choice of referring to the game as “the AFL-NFL Championship Game” or, the delightfully short “Super Bowl.” “Super Bowl” also fits quite nicely on tickets, programs, hats, coolie cups, seat cushions, jerseys, key rings and footballs in varying sizes and colors.

So, Sunday is the big day. Hunt’s Chiefs are in Hunt’s Super Bowl. And they’ll probably win because the Packers aren’t playing, having suffered that fluke and all. Wherever Lamar Hunt is now, I really hope he enjoys the game.