Lamar Hunt Kansas City Chiefs

In 1959, a young man, totally frustrated in his repeated attempts to gain a franchise in the National Football League, hit upon an idea. The young man was Lamar Hunt, a 26-year-old sports-minded, civic-minded individual who called Dallas home, and his idea, simply, was to form a new professional football league to rival the NFL.

Lamar quickly approached other people who might be interested in owning franchises in a new league and, within seven months, the American Football League was born. The new league was the subject of many a joke in the early days of its existence but its eventual David-and-Goliath-like success in its costly survival battle with the established NFL did more to permanently change the pro football scene than any other event in a half-century of organized pro football activity.

It would be incorrect to say that everything good that happened to the AFL before, during and after the bitter fight with the NFL was Hunt's doing. He was, however, a leader in many of the forceful and daring moves his league made. Once merger talks were under way, Lamar eventually played a significant role in bringing about the agreement that gave the AFL totally equality in the pro football world. By the example of having a solid team and a solid organization right from the start, Lamar gave the AFL additional strength.

His original Dallas Texans team had to battle head-to-head with the newly established Cowboys and, even though the battle was a dead-even affair, Hunt, after three years, wisely moved his team to Kansas City. There the Chiefs became known as one of pro football's finest organizations, both off and on the field. The eventual merger between the AFL-NFL and the resulting successes of pro football are more than even Lamar himself could have thought possible.