HOF Memories: Lamar Hunt's Speech

Posted Aug 5, 2012

Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction, 1972

Lamar Hunt was one to keep extensive notes even of the many speeches he was asked to give over his career.  Never formal in the sense we think of speech-making today, they consisted of talking points that permitted him to expound as he spoke.

Probably no speech he gave would rival Churchillian proportions, but he was after all, a humble man and one whose actions easily outstripped any of his rhetoric. Not afraid to call himself, “basically…a fan” in a business whose leaders more often promote a know-it-all image, Hunt never trumpeted the pride he must have felt personally to have withstood the early trials of the American Football League and how his work as a sports entrepreneur helped it hang on when others were ready to disband.

Here are excerpts from his remarks on the occasion he became the first AFL selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio:

“Everyone’s life takes funny turns.  [It] has been my privilege to have been associated in football with men such as Bill [Sullivan, Boston Patriots owner and his presenter to the Hall of Fame], [Oakland Raiders owner] Wayne Valley, [Houston Oilers owner] Bud Adams, [Buffalo Bills owner] Ralph Wilson.

“They had a dream on which we worked together (tough fight) and [I] consider them to be among my very closest friends.

“[I have had] remarkable luck to be involved in what some call “the game of our times” and [it has] been exciting to see pro football grow and develop.

“[It’s] an understatement for me to say I’m proud to share this stage with this illustrious group.  No one ever benefitted more from others. From father [I] received the basic desire to invest and build in business, [from my] wife and children [I had]….patient sounding boards for ideas aside from [my] AFL associates.

“Chiefs personnel have been dedicated to being the best on and off the field, including staff, coaches and players. It’s not possible to mention [them] all.  Symbolically – [trainer Wayne] Rudy, [head coach Hank] Stram, [general manager Jack [Steadman]… They represent a great organization – all 12 years.

“To represent all players [I] mention only three:  Stone Johnson [deceased], Mack Lee Hill [deceased], and Johnny Robinson.  Today for the first time ever Robinson won’t be a Chief.  {I] hope his legacy of dedication to excellence will always remain for future generations of players. [I’m] proud that fate made it possible that [the] entire [current Chiefs] squad could be here today.

“[I’m] pleased also that the “Wolfpack” could be here today.

"Kansas City seems to have bred a unique brand of fan. [Red Coater and Chiefs Club head] Ray Evans personifies that group and what they have meant to the Chiefs. I salute him as representative of the 70,000 Chiefs season ticket holders.

“Basically I consider myself to be a fan.  I’m extremely grateful as I stand before you [and] I know the basic reason is because [the] AFL achieved a degree of success.

“Pro football belongs to the fans.  I want to acknowledge this honor in the name of all who contributed to the growth of the AFL and in the name of all pro football fans of America, thank you.”