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 Lamar Hunt
1932 ~ 2006
The Patriots, Bills, Jets, Titans, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Dolphins and Bengals would not have existed if it hadn’t been for Lamar Hunt.  What’s more, the NFL’s Cowboys, created specifically to drive the AFL out of  Dallas, would not have existed.  Neither would the Vikings, an NFL franchise that was given to Max Winter to pull out of the original eight-team American Football League; nor would the Falcons, which the NFL gave to Rankin Smith to deter him from the AFL’s Miami franchise.  And neither would the Saints, whose franchise was granted by the NFL after certain Louisiana congressmen pushed the AFL-NFL merger to completion.
       That’s fourteen teams.  Fourteen professional football teams that would not have existed in fourteen cities today, if Lamar Hunt had not had the vision and the courage to “fight the establishment”.
Knowing what a humble, unassuming gentleman he was, he would probably not want to take the credit for making pro football what it is today; but make no mistake: 
Lamar Hunt INVENTED today’s pro football.  

The Super Bowl trophy should be re-named THE LAMAR HUNT TROPHY.

*         I met Hunt face to face in the mid-nineties when I was refereeing a High School football game in Pottstown, PA. It was at The Hill School, the prep school which Mr. Hunt had attended.  He was the honorary captain who flipped the coin.  He stayed and watched his alma mater, sitting on the aluminum bleachers like all the others.  I had a chance to speak with him briefly at halftime and we spoke of the AFL and my experience watching the Dolphins in the early 70’s as a kid.  He was a true gentleman and despite his wealth and stature seemed very comfortable with himself.  A very gracious and warm fella. It was a great experience. ~ Jim Sharp
*         In the mid 1990's, I was a 24 or 25 year-old small college coach/car salesman and aspiring writer. Essentially a nobody, I sought out to write a book on the AFL.  I contacted some heavyweights like Lamar Hunt and laughed at the notion that I'd get a call back.  Surprisingly enough, Lamar Hunt did call me, and supported my efforts.  Told me stories about "playing" at SMU and how he financed the Chicago Bulls, which many don't know even today.  The book was a poorly-edited amateur piece, but Mr. Hunt bought a number of copies and told me how much he enjoyed reading it. Probably not true, but he made my day.  Hell, he made my year.  He sent me some Chiefs gear and a handwritten note about the AFL which I had framed and hangs in my law office today.  Lamar Hunt was as down to earth a gentleman as any man with his worth/accomplishments could hope to be.  He'll be missed by the football world, and sporting world at large, but God rest his soul, I know he's in heaven. ~ Jim Acho 
*         Lamar Hunt changed the face of American football, as much as George Halas, and anyone else.
More than that, he comported himself with dignity and humility.
          Old Joe Kennedy, father of President Jack Kennedy, said "all big businessmen are big "s.o.b.'s"..
Old Joe has been proven wrong by Lamar, who also exemplified this: "There is genius in Initiative"...
          Lamar 's reaction to rejection was "Alright, I'll create a whole new league"..., and he did, and its success still inspires us..
          Long Live the "Legend of  Lamar",  as much for his humanity as for his other qualities. ~ jack barry
*         I “met” Lamar Hunt by long distance in the late 1960’s.  I would write him passionate, heated letters berating the American Football League’s owners for “giving in” and merging with the hated NFL, and he would respond with a calm, reasoned “Thank you for your interest”.   I’d send him a missive telling him I thought he was failing his fans, he’d send me a Christmas card.   I’d figuratively “stomp my feet”, he’d send me an autographed copy of The Other League.
         Lamar Hunt clearly had patience, but not always.  In 1958, he tried to join the pro football fraternity by attempting to obtain an NFL franchise in his home town of Dallas, but was rebuffed by the league that once thought low-cut shoes were revolutionary.  The league might have let him buy a share in the Cardinals, but then cringed at the idea that he wanted to move the franchise to Dallas.  “A pro football team in Texas? Preposterous!”
         Hunt finally caught on to the NFL’s conservatism, and decided to start a league of his own.  The result was the American Football League, one of the most successful American professional sports leagues of all time, and the true genesis of modern professional football.  National network television of all league games?  Revenue sharing of home receipts and television income?  Moving cameras instead of static fifty-yard-line shots?  Miked-up players?  Recruiting small black colleges?  Two-point touchdown conversions?  Names on players’ jerseys?  A clock on the scoreboard, so that fans knew the time remaining?   Flashy offenses instead of three yards and a cloud of dust?  A Thanksgiving Day game in a different city every year?  All those innovations were made by Hunt’s brainchild, the AFL.
          Hunt’s character was made evident early in the league’s existence.   When the NFL realized he wasn’t just going away, they offered him an NFL franchise in Dallas after all, if he would dump the AFL owners and their plans.   Lamar Hunt said he had made a commitment to the other AFL founders, and he couldn’t, with honor, pull out.  The result of Hunt’s efforts are incalculable. ~ Ange Coniglio
*         Lamar Hunt is an inspiration to anyone who sees the world in a creative sense and all the possibilities for progress and change.  In this, we can also call him a great American who understood that challenging an existing system could only make that system better.
          Would you have liked to have been a sandlot kid playing football with "Games" Hunt and a young tailor's son from Gary, Indiana - Hank Stram?  Is there any greater monument to the game of football than their creative energies and genius?
          Lamar Hunt was not only a visionary but an entirely modest and grounded human being who got things done. May he rest in peace and may we all remember him with gratitude for transforming the game we love.

~ Ray Andrewsen
General Manager
AM 1220 WQUN
Quinnipiac University

*         Lamar Hunt successfully blazed a trail that few others have.  He forced the NFL's hand to accept all of the AFL teams at one time, refusing to sell off his fellow AFL owners when offered an opportunity to just take his team with him.  While I never had the pleasure to have met Lamar, that speaks volumes about him.  Even in his final years, he was looking out for others, helping to spearhead a successful campaign to see his Super Bowl Champion Coach Hank Stram voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, before Hank's passing away. 
          Like you, I hope the NFL agrees to find a fitting way to honor Lamar Hunt. ~ Dave Mann
*         Every person in Kansas City should send their thoughts.  Kansas City is a big league city because of this man.  He brought pro football to a small market town that to this day cannot compete in baseball, but was in 2 of the first 4 Super Bowls.  I know for a fact, he was a perfect gentleman to everyone he met.  Most people do not know he started "Worlds of Fun" and "Oceans of Fun", here in Kansas City.  Two amusement parks that bring thousands of people a year to Kansas City.  75,000 people on game day at Arrowhead Stadium.  Only one man did that for us here.  Thank you Lamar and Norma for all you have done for our city.

~ Leonard Mirabile
Jasper's Restaurant
Kansas City, MO

*        This image is something I have been working on for some time, as promised to Lamar at the reunion of the '62 group of Champions. This finalizes the speech Lamar made at the Baptist Hospital banquet back in 2001, the year he dedicated the courtyard at the Stadium at the top of the hill above the stadium (we did not view it, since the weather was awful for the event and it was held inside a field house building) This was sent to Lamar but I'm not sure if it arrived in time for him to view before passing on this week. 
           I would like to say that Lamar was special like his wife, loved by all and hated by none, a friend to all, very pleasant and easy to be with and lo and behold showed up here at the University of Alabama stadium more than once to view a game or two.  He will be missed and "quoted" forever like my mentor Coach Paul W. Bryant (The Bear). 

 ~ Tommy Brooker, (Tight end and Kicker)  Texans and Chiefs

The Triangle (click it to enlarge it) refers to the 1962 AFL Championship Game, at that time the longest pro football game ever played.  The Texan's Bill Hull intercepted a George Blanda pass to end the first overtime period with the Texans at the Oilers' 48.  In the second overtime, Jack Spikes picked up ten yards on a pass reception and nineteen yards on a rushing play.  After the Texans ran a couple of plays to position the ball, rookie Tommy Brooker came in on fourth down and kicked a twenty-five-yard field goal for the victory over the two-time defending AFL Champions.
*          Hi: My name is Kelly & I live In Fremont, CA & I'd like to offer a few thoughts on the passing of Lamar Hunt, owner of the KC Chiefs & more importantly, the Founding Father of the American Football League As a fan of the Chiefs since I was a child, I came into the world in September of 1961, the AFL's 2nd year of operations.  When the AFL was created he wanted it to be different from the NFL & it was He put names on the backs of players' jerseys & had the scoreboard clock as the official timekeeper & My Favorite Addition, the 2 POINT CONVERSION!!!!   Needless to say I was happy as hell when the NFL adopted it in 1994!! 
I loved Mr. Coniglio's letter that he sent to Mr. Hunt asking him to help organize an AFL 50th Anniversary Tribute Celebration in 2009, & I hope that his sons will carry this worthy idea forward.  We should see if Bud Adams & Ralph Wilson can help bring this dream into reality It would be an awesome Tribute to Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs & the AFL!!!   Also get the help of former players such as Joe Namath, Lance Alworth, Bob Griese, Otis Taylor, Daryle Lamonica, & John Hadl I truly believe a 50th Anniversary Celebration of the AFL would be a great season-long party, not only for those of us who grew up with the league but also to tell a new generation the AFL story.
             In closing, my condolences to the Hunt Family on the loss of Lamar, & the Chiefs for the loss of the owner & founder of the team & the founder of the AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE!!!  God Bless the Hunt family, the Chiefs & the AFL!!  
PS: Mr. Coniglio, I support fully the idea of a 50th Anniversary AFL Celebration!!  ~ Sincerely, Kelly A. Krannawitter

Celebration of the Life of
 Lamar Hunt
August 2, 1932 ~ December 13, 2006

"As the founder of the AFL, he helped pave the way for much of the modern growth of pro football."

Links to articles about Lamar Hunt
Lamar Hunt facilitated racial progress in pro football
Hunt gave NFL peace in our time
When Lamar Went Up Against The NFL
Hunt's passing brings back memories for Adams
Visionary owner changed face of professional football
Pro Football Visionary Lamar Hunt Dies
Sports has lost a great friend in Lamar Hunt
Lamar Hunt was ahead of his time
Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt dead
The Passing of a Giant
Hunt Said 'Go Chiefs' Before He Passed
Halas and Hunt to Thank for Super Bowl Weekend

          Thomas Flynn is an unlikely Chiefs fan from "Jets country".  He wrote the following letter to Mr. Hunt before his passing, but it expresses thoughts that many Chiefs and AFL fans fully concur with.

Dear Mr. Hunt

I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to start this letter by telling you how I became a Chiefs fan in 1973 — even though I’ve lived in New York my entire life.

When I was seven years old, my father came home from work one evening with a bright red football helmet for me. It was a model that a lineman would wear. Gray facemask. It was beautiful. When I asked him what team wore those colors, he replied “the Kansas City Chiefs.” The next day, before dinner, he handed me a Chiefs logo sticker that he bought during his lunch break. As you could imagine, that would not have been an easy item to find on Long Island in 1973. After we ate, he helped me carefully apply the sticker to my new helmet. At that moment something clicked and I have been hooked ever since. I probably didn’t even know what state Kansas City was in. I certainly didn’t know anything about the AFL, the Dallas Texans, or the merger. In fact, my father was a Jets fan and had already taken me to a few games at Shea Stadium. However, something about the Chiefs took hold and refused to let go. But enough about me.

With the recent passing of Wellington Mara, the New York airwaves have been filled with tales about his early days in the National Football League and the role he played in the league’s amazing growth throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Giants fans have been calling sports talk shows with memories about Mr. Mara personally answering letters, helping them get tickets to a special game or just taking the time to talk with them. It sounds like Mr. Mara was a wonderful husband, father, and man. He lived a life few could hope to imagine.

Most of these warm stories concluded with the thought of “the NFL wouldn’t be what it is today without Wellington Mara.” While that seems to be true, I think that the one person who has had the most impact on shaping the modern NFL rarely gets the credit that he justly deserves. That person is you Mr. Hunt.

To me, the actions that spurred the NFL’s growth were a direct response to your creation of the American Football League. Obviously you had help from your partners in The Foolish Club, but you were the founding father and driving force of the new league. The NFL, after years of refusing to do so, expanded in 1960 in an attempt to undercut the AFL. Because of the AFL, the NFL began to understand the power of broadcast TV. And then, there’s the world’s most popular sporting event, The Super Bowl. You rallied for a championship match between the leagues from day one. And you came up with the name. Take away the AFL, or better yet, take away Lamar Hunt, and would the NFL be what it is today? The answer is a resounding “no.”

But it’s what I’ve read about your integrity, honesty, and sense of fair play that impresses me the most. When an NFL franchise was offered to you if you abandoned your upstart league, you refused, knowing that AFL owners like Billy Sullivan, Jr. had everything they owned invested in their teams. I’ve also heard that you personally wrote game checks for the New York Jets when Harry Wismer was unable to make payroll.

I could go on about your importance to professional football, but honestly, I really want to let you know about the impact you have had on my life — and my family. My enthusiasm rubbed off on my younger brother Tim, because he too is a longtime Chiefs fan. In 1991, we drove from New York to Kansas City for the Monday Night game against Buffalo. Our first, absolutely electrifying Arrowhead experience is something both of us will never forget. In 1995, we started a Flynn Family Tradition by attending Chiefs games with our father, the one who started it all for us. My dad is a true New Yorker and now roots for the Bills since, according to him at least, the Jets and the Giants play in New Jersey! On November 13th, we’ll all be at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Section 107, Row 4, Seats 19-17. My older sister Susan has even gotten involved in our travels. Along with her husband Denis, a Jets fan from the AFL days, she attended this year’s opening game in Arrowhead with us. I treasure the time I spend with my family and you have helped me do just that on many priceless occasions. So, for over 30 years, Mr. Lamar Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs have been a big part of keeping the Flynn family together.

I hope I have not wasted your time or made you feel uncomfortable in any way. I am not usually a letter writer, but I just felt the need to take some time to offer respect to someone I admire. Win or lose, I’ll always bleed Chiefs red. I have you to thank for that.

Good health and good luck to you and your family,

Thomas Flynn

         In 2007, the Kansas City Chiefs will be honoring their founder Lamar Hunt, and the league that he formed, which would become the genesis of modern Professional Football: the American Football League.
        The 2007 Media Guide, whose cover and sample page are pictured here, is full of images, logos and anecdotes about the league and each of its original teams.
         Prominently featured in the Guide and in the Chiefs 2007 Yearbook is a special AFL patch.  The Yearbook's description of the patch is paraphrased below.

Material courtesy of Pete Moris and the Kansas City Chiefs.

          Professional Football and the American sports community lost a true treasure on December 13, 2006 when Chiefs Founder Lamar Hunt passed away.  Hunt served as the guiding force behind the formation of both the American Football League and the Kansas City Chiefs franchise.  Few individuals helped change the face of America's favorite game for the better than this quiet Texan.  Hunt played a key role in the AFL-NFL merger talks in the '60s and actually coined the term "Super Bowl".  As part of a year-long tribute to Hunt in 2007, the Chiefs will wear a commemorative patch that prominently features the American Football League logo to serve as a reminder of Hunt's formation of the AFL and the lasting impact the American Football League has made on the game of Professional Football. 
          True to Hunt's humble style, the letters "LH" are subtly displayed on the football of the AFL logo, symbolizing the fact that the Chiefs Founder always put the interests of the league ahead of his own.  The patch will be affixed to the left chest of both Kansas City's home and away jerseys, meaning this piece of woven symbolism will be worn over the heart of every Chiefs player.


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