Football

Hitting 300: Milestone win finds Hunt steady as usual

Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt can't recall the 100th or the 200th victories in franchise history.

But he'll have a lasting memory of No. 300. With the entire team encircling them in the locker room, Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson presented a specially decorated game ball to Hunt on Sunday night after the Chiefs defeated Oakland 28-8 for the 300th victory in franchise history. "Someone asked me about the 100th and the 200th wins, and I couldn't remember anything about those games," Hunt, flanked by his sons, Lamar Jr. and Clark, told the team. "But I will never forget the 300th because of the emotion, the opponent and the intensity of this game. "It was a memorable night." Hunt's wife, Norma, shared in the triumph. "Every win is wonderful," Norma Hunt said. "To him, the achievements relate to all the individuals who achieve these goals and not just a number. He views that as something tied to all of the highly successful coaches and some of those who did not have much success. But they were nice people and people we have loved knowing and being with over a lot of good years and bad years. "There have been good years and bad years. It's not all just one great march to 300 wins." The Chiefs, founded by Hunt as the Dallas Texans in 1960, followed Oakland as the second of the eight original American Football League franchises to win 300 games. Victory No. 1 also came against the Raiders. Hunt doesn't recall much about the Texans' 34-16 triumph over Oakland on Sept. 16, 1960, at old Kezar Stadium in San Francisco other than the crowd figure of 8,021 was "doubtful." Now Hunt watches Chiefs games that are sold out before the season even starts. And he watches the games just like most of the 78,000-plus who cram into Arrowhead Stadium. Standing. "Nervous energy," Clark said while watching the game in the owner's luxury suite. "I've never seen him sit during a Chiefs game. When he's standing, he's more into it." Indeed, Hunt high-fived Norma after Elvis Grbac threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Andre Rison in the first quarter. As those in the suite clapped and cheered, Hunt smiled and pointed to the booth below. "Just think, Al Davis is sitting right down there," Hunt smiled. Balancing his fruit plate and iced tea on a ledge behind a row of the 55 theater-type seats in his suite, Hunt entertained a who's who of Kansas City that included Mayor Emanuel Cleaver and his wife, Dianne; Henry and Marion Bloch; and Don and Adele Hall. But his eyes never left the field. When the place went bonkers after the Chiefs' Reggie Tongue pounced on a mishandled punt and took it to the end zone, Hunt calmly explained that the play was dead. "It's a muff," Hunt explained to Bloch, the way the H&R Bloch founder would interpret the tax code. "It's our ball, but you can't score. If he caught it and took some steps, then it would be a fumble." The start of the Chiefs' season is the highlight of Hunt's year, but it's just one facet of his varied sports interests and investments. In fact, 1998 has been a whirlwind of athletic endeavors for Hunt, 66. As a minority owner with an 11.25 percent stake in the Chicago Bulls, he collected his sixth NBA championship ring in June. Hunt, the last of the Bulls' original owners, attended most of Michael Jordan's playoff games, including all six games of the NBA finals. That was followed by spending 21 days in France attending the World Cup; helping organize the Nebraska-Oklahoma State game to be played Oct. 3 at Arrowhead Stadium; overseeing the operation of his two Major League Soccer teams, the Wizards and Columbus Crew; and exploring the possibility of bringing an Arena Football League franchise to Kansas City. But Hunt made his biggest headlines last spring when he teamed with Western Resources in a bid to buy the Royals. Hunt's interest in owning both teams at the Truman Sports Complex inspired baseball fans in the community. They envisioned the Royals, under Hunt's direction, enjoying the same kind of renaissance as the Chiefs of the 1990s by fielding a competitive team and filling the stadium. Their bid, as it turned out, was considered woefully inadequate, and after the Royals board of directors endorsed Miles Prentice's bid as superior, Hunt withdrew. "I have no regrets at all as far as participating," Hunt said of the bidding process. "At the time we got interested, it appeared there might not be any other legitimate or possible purchasers, and I felt genuinely, and still do, that baseball is a good, continuing thing for this community. "It's unusual to have two stadiums right here. If the baseball stadium was 10 miles away, and they went out of business, well, maybe I'd say, 'I'm sorry to see them go.' But here, it's particularly important, I thought, to the sports complex, to make sure that team succeeds, and I still feel that whoever ends up with the team, I hope it ends up well for the Royals' board and charities and also the group that ends up owning it." Hunt does not sense that he let down the community by coming up short with his bid, which was $25 million up front plus $25 another million on the condition that Kauffman Stadium would receive about $70 million worth of renovations. "We had a view of what the proper financial price was," Hunt said, "and when it appeared our offer would not be accepted, there were no hard feelings by any means. We spent a huge amount of time, effort and energy over a period of about four months and certainly, we were very serious because we don't need any more publicity. "It would have been a very, very, big new undertaking. It's quite different than getting a college football game or having a soccer team playing here. That's big enough, but to have a baseball team ... " Hunt's wife, Norma, understood the public's frustration when the Hunt-Western Resources bid fell by the wayside. "I can understand how the public would want someone to come in there, a well-financed individual who can really do what needs to be done for that team," she said. "In my view, it wasn't that they were mad at Lamar or negative toward him, it's just that they were wishing for the best thing to happen for your team, and when you want that, you want everybody to do what you want them to." While winning Super Bowl IV after the 1969 season ranks as the franchise's ultimate achievement, Hunt seems partial to the Chiefs' victories of the last decade. "There have been so many great games in the last nine years," Hunt said, "when Tamarick Vanover returned the punt against San Diego in overtime and and we won three home games in overtime in 1995. ... The Monday night game against Buffalo (in 1991), the weather was great, and there was awesome electrcity in the stands. "The Super Bowls were so long ago, and I have clear recollections of the losing (to Green Bay in Super Bowl I) and winning. The No. 1 memory that I have, and it's not directly game-related, but the parade, when we got back from New Orleans. I can remember that better than the game."

  Comments