Thursday, December 14, 2006

R.I.P. Lamar Hunt (1932-2006)

It’s a dark time in K.C. sports these days. For the second time in two months, we’ve lost a major sports figure here.  First it was Buck O’Neil in October, and now Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt.  Though not unexpected, his death is still depressing all the same.

Much will be written and said about him in the coming days, and here’s my .02 worth.  I don’t think too many people realize the full impact this guy had on the professional sports world—not just in Kansas City.  Look at the spectacle the Super Bowl has become—it’s practically a national holiday in our country now—and Mr. Hunt was as instrumental in making it what it is today as anyone.  As for K.C., we were damn lucky to have an owner like him with deep pockets who was willing to do what it took to keep the Chiefs here.  He certainly wasn’t one of these douche-bag owners like Art Modell and Al Davis who threatened to pack up his team and leave town every time the city failed to kiss his ass.  He was light years ahead of his time by conceiving the dual stadium set-up and because of Lamar Hunt’s vision, Kansas City didn’t get stuck with some crappy domed stadium that would now be obsolete (or demolished already like the Kingdome).  Instead Kansas City has two of the coolest stadiums in the world, and will continue to have them for many more years to come, thanks to him.  And let’s not forget he was the man who gave us Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, too.  Thank you, Lamar!

It occurred to me today how Lamar Hunt even indirectly affected the course of my own life in some ways.  I got to thinking—"What would life had been like if there was no Kansas City Chiefs football team when I was a kid?"  They were a huge part of my formative years--hell, in my 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-grade school photos I wore a Chiefs shirt, so what does that tell you?  But, if they didn’t exist at that time, I may not have even gotten into football at all—I might have gotten more into stock car racing or golf instead, or worse, I might have become a Dallas Cowboys fan (ewwww!).  Timing is everything, they say, and without Lamar Hunt, Kansas City might not have gotten a football team until I was in my teens or 20s, and who knows how things might have been?  Isn’t it amazing how certain people impact your life and you don’t even realize it?

Mr. Hunt was certainly a unique individual and a very important man around these parts, and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude, no doubt about it.  So long, Lamar—ya done good. And long live "The Foolish Club"…