NFL

Why Is the AFC Championship Trophy Named After Lamar Hunt?

When the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship it meant a lot to the franchise in more ways than one. Not only was it the team’s chance to win its first Super Bowl in 50 years, but the team earned something near and dear to its hearts.

The Lamar Hunt trophy has been hoisted by the AFC champion for years. The story behind it may be lost on those who don’t know about its namesake.

Who is Lamar Hunt?

In 1959, Hunt was a 26-year-old businessman with dreams of owning an NFL franchise. After failing to do so, however, he was left frustrated and decided the best way to join the exclusive club of pro football owners was to start a league. 

Using his circle to find other interested parties, Hunt found enough to start the American Football League in just seven months. Since the dawn of sports leagues, most upstarts have failed. As such, Hunt and company’s decision to start the AFL was met with ire and mockery.

Despite this, he persisted and became the owner of the Dallas Texans. But with another Texas team, the Cowboys, getting attention, Hunt moved his franchise to Kansas City and renamed it the Chiefs

As far as the AFL went, as History.com reports, the league was doing better than many expected. By 1965, it convinced quarterback Joe Namath to bypass the NFL for the AFL.

With superstar players spurning the NFL, the league initiated talks of a merger in 1966. Over the next four years, the merger began to take form; the NFL was split between the AFC and NFC; and the Super Bowl was born. 

Lamar Hunt’s legacy 

Hunt may have a connection to the Chiefs, but his impact on the game of football can’t be ignored. The size of the league, makeup of its conferences, and championship game are all a result of the AFL/NFL merger. In 1985, as the Tennessean reported, the NFL named the AFC championship trophy after Hunt.

While Hunt was honored, he failed to achieve one thing before his death in 2006 — win the trophy that bore his name. Hunt owned the Chiefs for the rest of his life. The team remains in the hands of his family, but the franchise hit some rough patches along the way. All of this changed with Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and company.

Making dad proud

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, safety Tyrann Mathieu, and tight end Travis Kelce with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the AFC Championship
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, safety Tyrann Mathieu, and tight end Travis Kelce with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the AFC Championship | Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When Kansas City won the AFC, the Hunt family was thrilled to pay tribute to its deceased patriarch. Lamar’s son Clark Hunt, current team owner, expressed what it meant not just to him but to his mother, Norma. 

“It’s a tremendous day for our family, and I should mention how happy I am for my mother,” Clark said about the trophy. “To hold and kiss this trophy really means a lot … My mom [said that] dad always felt like the team belonged to the fans — and what we’re most excited about today is winning this trophy for the fans.”

With a Super Bowl win, too, it’s safe to say it was a good year for the Hunts. Lamar might’ve passed away, but his impact on the league cannot go unnoticed. By naming a trophy after him, the NFL pays tribute to one of the most important names in its history.

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