KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The significance of winning the Lamar Hunt trophy Sunday has not been lost on the Kansas City Chiefs, the fans or the Hunt family.
The coveted AFC Championship trophy is named for a man many consider among the ‘founders of football.’
Lamar Hunt was born in Arkansas, and raised in Dallas, Texas.
He wanted nothing more than to bring and own a professional football team in Dallas. He applied to the NFL for a franchise expansion, but was turned down.
In 1959, he and fellow business partners decided to form a whole new league: the ‘American Football League.’
He then became owner of the Dallas Texans. The NFL wanted to be in Dallas too bringing in the Dallas Cowboys, which split the fan base.
So, in 1963, Hunt starting hunting for a new home for his team.
Kansas City`s mayor, H. Roe Bartle – also known as ‘the chief’, promised home attendance of at least 25,000 a game. Hunt agreed and moved the team to Kansas City and the Dallas Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs.
In 1966, the Chiefs won their first Afl Championship and reached the first ever Super Bowl – known then as the AFL-NFL Championship game. They lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Later in 1966, the NFL and AFL agreed to merge, with a championship game between the two leagues at the end of the season.
Hunt had jokingly called it the ‘super bowl.’ By the third championship game, the term ‘super bowl’ had stuck and became official.
Hunt had other major influences on Kansas City. He founded major league soccer, and owned the Kansas City Wizards among other sports franchises.
He also helped establish the Worlds Of Fun and Oceans of Fun theme parks. Just south of those theme parks is the Hunt-developed ‘Subtropolis.’ It`s a 55,000,000 square foot, 1100 acre man-made limestone cave that is still considered the world`s largest underground business complex.
Hunt was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
In the 1984-85 season, the NFL established the Lamar Hunt Trophy for the AFC Championship winner.
Today, Chiefs players still have an ‘L’ and ‘H’ on the AFC patch on their uniforms.
And now, the Chiefs have a chance to bring the trophy, named for their beloved founder, home.