View Full Version : Denver Post: Chiefs' Hunt a football icon

09-25-2005, 02:06 AM
I think these guys have written more articles about the Chiefs than the Star this week....


Chiefs' Hunt a football icon
By Thomas George
Denver Post Staff Columnist

He has 46 years of pro football ownership. He has brought his Chiefs to Denver each of the past 43 years. On Monday night the Chiefs play their 649th game under his leadership.

And Lamar Hunt has missed only 18 of them.

"Last weekend I had to have tests done in a Dallas hospital, so I missed the Raiders game, the 18th," said Hunt, 73, who has fought prostate cancer for the past seven years, winning so far, preserving a touchable, symbolic source of NFL history.

"I fired the nurse the next day because she didn't check out the NFL schedule in advance - just kidding," Hunt said. "I plan to be in Denver. I haven't missed a lot of games over the years. But there's a bunch I wish I had."

He has not missed much of the best of the NFL at all. He helped design the merger of the AFL and NFL in 1966, created the name Super Bowl, guided his team into two of the first four Super Bowls, entered the Hall of Fame in 1972 and has served the league tirelessly as an essential thinker and ambassador.

Every AFC team wants the trophy with his name that earns a ticket to the Super Bowl. The NFC version is named after George Halas, the revered Bears owner and coach. Hunt and Halas. Part of the NFL's core.

When remembering Chiefs losses in recent years including coach Hank Stram and linebacker Derrick Thomas, Hunt still being around is something we should celebrate. He remains a warm mixture of humor and insight, a competitor, dignified in victory or defeat.

He has helped keep the Chiefs competitive and offensive-minded in recent seasons and stout enough to give the Broncos a worthy rival. The Chiefs have replaced the Raiders in the AFC West as the team the Broncos intently gauge. This is the team the Broncos respect and enjoy competing against most. The early winner of this matchup is often on track to claim the division.

The AFC West is the league's lone division that has its four original teams intact from the merger. The Broncos and Chiefs are the closest teams in proximity in the division. The NFL's style and substance attracts fans. It is the rivalries, Hunt insists, that boost the sport to fanatical levels.

"I remember us coming to Denver when Hank was coach and we were up by four touchdowns just before halftime when Hank decided to go for an onside kick," Hunt said. "The fans threw snowballs at him and the team. There was the Joe Montana Monday night comeback game in 1994. Priest

Holmes hurt his knee there in 2002, and that changed our season. A lot has happened between us in Denver."

Hunt has lived in Dallas since 1938. Though he is not at the Chiefs' complex every day, "I'm there day to day emotionally," he said.

His chief interest is in club promotions. Occasionally he will send a memo to his staff on a campaign, "a way to make it better" without being to critical, he said.

"For three seasons, from 1960 through 1962, the Chiefs were previously known as the Dallas Texans in the AFL and I came up with barber day," he said. "Wear your smock and you get in free. The idea was the barbers would go back and tell their customers what a good time they had and we could build the interest. I think 97 barbers showed up. Who knows, some of 'em were probably dentists. I've taken a lot of ribbing for that one over the years.

"The NFL should be entertainment, show business. There are a lot of ways to look at that. I don't like the self-congratulatory celebrations in the end zone some players do because it doesn't acknowledge their teammates. But in the end, I'm sort of in between with it."

Because he wants the game to be a show.

That is the expectation on Monday night here, where the Chiefs are winless in four tries at Invesco Field at Mile High. But the Chiefs are 50-39 vs. the Broncos; that is more victories than they have against any other franchise.

In coach Dick Vermeil, Hunt said he has "the pied piper of people, a great leader." In this Chiefs team, through two unbeaten games, he sees a better show.

"It looks like our defense is quite a bit better than it has been in the last two years," Hunt said. "If we can keep it up and stay at least in the middle of the league, that would be significant. We haven't ordered any championship rings yet; two games doesn't make a season. I love the Colorado air. I love the game, the competition, the show."

He knows the Broncos and Chiefs on Monday night are bent on producing a good one.

Few can appreciate the spectacle more than Hunt.

Ultra Peanut
09-25-2005, 02:09 AM
Lamar rocks.