KANSAS CITY — The Super Bowl wouldn't exist if it weren't for Lamar Hunt, the late owner of the Kansas City Chiefs who helped found the American Football League, helped forge a merger with the NFL and even gave the world championship of football its moniker.
That makes heading to the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history and first time in a half-century especially meaningful for his son Clark Hunt, the club's current chairman and CEO, who accepted the Lamar Hunt Trophy alongside his mother and Lamar Hunt's widow Norma.
“It's a tremendous day for our family,” Clark Hunt said. “I should mention how happy I am for my mother. For her to have the chance to hold and kiss this trophy, really means a lot.”
The Chiefs last made the trip to the Super Bowl in January 1970. Clark Hunt, all of four years of age, attended the game with his family.
“I was at that game and I have a photo, so I hate to say that I don't really remember it,” he said.
The Chiefs won three AFL championships, played in Super Bowl I and won Super Bowl IV during the franchise's first decade. It seemed unimaginable the team would go 22 years before winning another playoff game. The Chiefs made it to just one conference championship between 1970 and 2012, falling to Buffalo 30-13 in the AFC Championship in January 1994.
“It would not be what it is without the hardship, without all of the hard work that went into getting us here,” Clark Hunt said. “Fifty years is too long, but we are going to Miami."
The Chiefs experienced periods of success under head coaches Marty Schottenheimer during the 1990s and Dick Vermeil in the 2000s. A lot of losing happened in between, but things changed with the arrival of Andy Reid in 2013.
“He came in day one and we started winning games,” Clark Hunt said.
The Chiefs now are on arguably the best run in the franchise's history. The club won a fourth-straight AFC West title this season, a feat it had never before achieved. It also made its fifth-straight trip to the postseason, one short of the franchise record of six between 1990 and 1995.
One thing remains missing, however, for the Hunt family. Sometime after Norma Hunt attended her 50th Super Bowl in 2016, Norma Hunt had a message for her son.
“She said, 'Clark it sure would be nice if we could play in this game once while I'm still able to go,'” Clark Hunt said. “We've got that checked off, but at the end of the day, we've still got a big goal to accomplish.”
Hunt each year tells his team the have three goals. One is making the playoffs and another is winning the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
“We've got those done,” he said. “But our big goal left is to bring another Lombardi Trophy back to Kansas City.”