When the Chiefs kick off against the Dallas Cowboys at noon today, it will mark the revival of the long-time but periodic affiliation between the franchises that both were launched in Dallas in 1960 in what became a key territorial dispute as the upstart AFL took on the NFL.
"We don’t have many rivals in the NFC, but certainly if you had to name one it would be the Cowboys just because the teams shared history going back to 1960 in Dallas," Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said Friday before the Chiefs sought to improve on their 3-6 record against the Cowboys. “We don’t get to play them very often, but when we do certainly I know the Jones family wants to win the game and my family does as well."
The Chiefs, then the Dallas Texans, in a sense blinked and in a sense saw a terrific business opportunity by moving 50 years ago to Kansas City, where they have become a major part of the city’s identity.
In the process, Hunt said, laughing, his father, Lamar, had to surrender one of his favorite past-times.
"Frankly, the stories I’ve heard, neither team drew any fans," he said, laughing and adding, "In fact, one of my dad’s favorite hobbies during that time was going to the Cowboys games to hand-count the number of people sitting in the stands because he knew they were lying about their attendance figures in the paper."
The leagues, of course, were in the middle of a major battle at the time as the AFL strived for credibility on the field but also in communities and in the box office.
"The Texans were actually the more successful of the franchises on the field and I believe also at the gate, but I think my dad decided that it was going to be very difficult to be as successful as the Texans needed to be to help continue to support the AFL," Hunt said. "He felt that by moving to Kansas City, where they would be literally the only game in town, they could go on to greater success, which ultimately would strengthen the AFL. And I think that all played out in that regard."
Among other ways the move enhanced the stature of the AFL, the Chiefs quickly became enmeshed with the community, attendance burgeoned and they won the 1970 Super Bowl, thereby demonstrating that the Jets win the year before was no fluke.
Later in 1970, the leagues merged.
"There were a number of things that contributed to the impetus for the merger, but certainly the teams starting to be successful from an attendance standpoint was part of the equation," he said. "And that happened in Kansas City much more quickly than it likely would have in Dallas because of the presence of the Cowboys."