Last night at the Kansas City public library, I watched a documentary on the life of Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt. Produced by NFL Films, the documentary was everything I thought it would be (and more) as I learned more about one of the most important men in the history of sports. The Hunt family and Chiefs team historian Bob Moore were a few of the many folks who had a hand in getting this off the ground.
The documentary included home video footage of the Hunt family, old-school Dallas Texans footage and a load of other clips that the great NFL Films was able to use. The documentary covered his contributions to football (combining the leagues), tennis (creating the World Championship Tennis circuit) and soccer (founding MLS) and gave you a glimpse into Lamar Hunt the man. We know Lamar Hunt from football so it was really cool to see guys like John McEnroe talk about him and tennis the same way we do with him and football.
Hopefully this is something that will be available for everyone to see at some point but here are a few things I took out of the documentary:
The league was the most important thing. One anecdote told during the documentary was Lamar Hunt's one and only trade. Hank Stram had talked about how great of an owner Hunt was because he let him do his thing and wasn't meddling around in football operations. The one trade Hunt made without Stram's knowledge, Len Dawson said in the documentary, was sending QB Cotton Davidson to the Oakland Raiders. At the time, the Chiefs had Lenny so they were set at quarterback but the Raiders quarterback situation wasn't great so, for the betterment of the league, Hunt traded Davidson to the Raiders. Dawson said Stram was less than pleased with making a trade like that. It all worked out, though, because they got a draft pick in return which ended up being Buck Buchanan.
Treat everyone the same. This was a recurring theme in the documentary -- treat everyone the same no matter who they are. From equipment managers to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, folks say Hunt treated everyone the same and that was with integrity and respect. They said he had this aura that you wanted to be around him. If there was a life lesson in this documentary, this was it.
Being a forward-thinker. What amazed me was how forward-thinking Hunt was. It's pretty incredible, really. He was partly responsible for the rise of professional football, tennis and soccer. One person in the documentary suggested he made a bigger impact on sports than anyone in history. The things we see today that are commonplace were things that Hunt came up with that, at the time, were cutting edge. Being able to put yourself in the future and come up with ideas like that is a special skill and Hunt was magnificent at it.