Spotlight Game Week 3 - Lamar Hunt

General Published on : 1/1/2005

(Editor's Note: The Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins have been two of the NFL's most successful franchises since the AFL-NFL merger, winning four Super Bowls between them. The following article appeared in the Official Super Bowl XXV Game Program)

The Name of the Game

By Jim Perry

The name "Super Bowl" now so ingrained in the American consciousness, was nothing more than an accident.

Lamar Hunt and Pete Rozelle

Lamar Hunt visits with the late NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.

It wasn't thought up by some slick ad agency or committee. It just happened. The first person to use the name was Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and the AFL's chief negotiator in the AFL-NFL merger. He can thank his kids for it. Hunt explains.

"After the AFL-NFL merger in 1966, there was a six-man merger committee established, which met with [Commissioner] Pete Rozelle and [Director of Information] Don Weiss to work on the implementation of the merger. This committee met several times in the summer and fall.

"Specifically we were worried about the championship game that had been agreed to at the end of the 1966 season. We had to work out the details for the game to be played, we didn't know where or when, except it would come after the AFL and NFL Championship Games. But we had trouble in our conversations in identifying which game we were talking about. It didn't have a name.

"At about the same time, my wife Norma had given our two oldest children, Lamar, Jr., who was nine then, and Sharron, who was eight, toy balls named Super Balls that were made by the Wham-O Manufacturing Company.

Lamar Hunt with Display

Hunt posed in front of the Hall of Fame's Super Bowl display during a visit in the 1970s.

"They were highly compressed rubber balls, which, when bounced on concrete, would literally bounce over a house. My son and daughter each had one, and they loved them. They were always talking about them. When they played with them, I occasionally played with them, too.

"One day at a committee meeting, I asked, 'Should there be a week off for the championship game?' And somebody else said, 'What do you mean by the championship game? AFL Championship Game or NFL Championship Game or what?'

Hunt Color

Lamar Hunt, Class of 1972.

"And I said, 'Well I mean the final game, the last game, the super bowl, you know what I mean.' It just came out. The name of the ball must have been in my subconscious. It was just one of those spontaneous things.

"Everybody looked at me kind of funny and smiled and kiddingly thereafter we would refer to the game as the Super Bowl. It just caught on within this committee, and then the media heard about it and kind of grabbed onto it and presented the first game as Super Sunday.

"But the league itself did not recognize or push the name Super Bowl until the third game, because Rozelle thought it was undignified. But eventually common slang and the media won out. They wouldn't call it anything but the Super Bowl."