When Sunday rolls around, Chiefs matriarch Norma Hunt — one of 16 living people who have attended every single Super Bowl game — will surely find herself performing a pair of pregame rituals her family has kept alive for 40-plus years.
First Norma — the widow of Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and the mother of team chairman Clark Hunt — will take a picture in front of the logo for that year's game.
“It proves that I was there, right,” Norma said with a laugh.
Then shortly thereafter, Clark and her youngest son, Daniel, will kiss her on the cheek, an extension of the ritual she and Lamar had every year before his death in December 2006.
“We had so much fun going together for 40 years,” Norma said. “I love all of our little traditions.”
This year's game — which will be held at Levi's Stadium in nearby Santa Clara, Calif. — marks the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, and Norma will certainly be there. After all these years, she couldn't imagine missing a game.
“Lamar loved ‘My Fair Lady’ — we saw it several times on Broadway — but one song keeps plopping into my mind from that, when Eliza Doolittle’s father sings ‘Get me to the church on time,’ ” Norma said. “I’m always thinking get me to the stadium on time, you know? And I’ve got the boys to be sure they do it.”
It's a task Clark and Daniel Hunt have dutifully performed for years, at their father's behest.
“One of the last things that my dad told me and my younger brother — and this was in December of 2006, shortly before he passed away — was to make sure we got my mom to the Super Bowl that year,” Clark Hunt recalled. “That just showed how much it was on his mind to keep her streak alive.
“So here we are, 10 years later, and the streak goes on. I know that part of it is very special for her. She mentioned how much fun she had going to the first 40 with my dad.”
Norma Hunt calls the Super Bowl “Lamar's baby,” and rightfully so. Lamar Hunt was the one who named the game back in 1966, a story that still makes Norma — his wife for 42 years — chuckle to this day.
According to Norma, one of the most famous names in sports actually has its origins at a Dallas toy store that is now out of business.
“And when I was checking out, they had a display on the counter with pictures, a cardboard thing, a standup thing, showing kids bouncing these super balls,” she said. “The picture made you believe these balls could bounce over a small house, and I thought our kids will love these.
“So I bought three of them — our youngest son had not been born at that time — so there was one for Clark, Sharron and Lamar Jr. And they really did enjoy them.”
So much so, she said, that Lamar Hunt heard about the toys with regularity.
“And he absolutely despised the name AFL-NFL World Championship Game — he literally thought it was the most boring thing he’d ever heard in his life,” Norma Hunt said. “So in a league meeting, (the term Super Bowl) just popped into his head.
“It’s all history now — it's turned out pretty well.”
Indeed. The NFL has never been more popular, and it has never been richer. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl is the premier showcase for the game, one that draws in massive ratings on a regular basis.
But Norma Hunt doesn't let the spectacle deflect from her enjoyment of the actual game.
“For me, the game is the thing,” she said. “There's a lot of hoopla around the game, but the game is still the most important thing. That means I get to see the best players in the league playing at the top of their game in the most important game. That's just what I, personally, enjoy about it.”
Meanwhile, her son Clark will observe Norma throughout the game. His dad would be happy and proud that they all obeyed his wishes and continued to attend the game as a family.
“He’s not somebody that visibly took pride in his accomplishments, but I know it would have been very satisfying for him, particularly because he was one of the few individuals that lived through the battle of the AFL vs the NFL,” Clark Hunt said. “There were a lot of questions for many years as to whether the AFL was going to survive, and then for the merger to happen, the Super Bowl to come about, I think he would probably quietly take a little bit of pride in it.”
Norma Hunt agrees, and she plans on rooting for the Broncos — just like Lamar would have wanted.
“In the beginning, Lamar said we always need to go to the Super Bowl and cheer ... for our conference because that team is representing us,” Norma said. “And of course this year, we’ve have this unusual situation where we’re not only cheering for the AFC, we’re cheering for our division.
“In this case, it's sort of like the enemy you love, when you're cheering for the Broncos. But we do, and we are going to cheer for them.”