Despite an uninspiring writing style this is a very solid biography of Lamar Hunt. Better yet, I learned a good deal about Lamar Hunt I didn’t know. Most readers will recognize Lamar Hunt as one of the found fathers of the American Football League which competed directly with the well-established National Football League. After a rather successful half decade the Hunt was then instrumental in the merger of the two leagues, creating the modern, NFL we know today.
Lamar Hunt was born not with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but many golden spoons. His father was a billionaire and Hunt inherited a vast amount of wealth that allowed him to pursue his own dreams and goals with little concern about the financial consequences. He fell in love with football in college and as an adult desperately wanted to own an NFL team but was spurned by the old guard. So Hunt did the next best thing, he found a group of like-minded men and created his own football league.
While getting a professional football league up and running and successful against the established, old school NFL was a daunting challenge, Hunt managed to do just that. And despite eventually having to move his inaugural Dallas franchise to Kansas City, his team and his league thrived. So much so, that eventually the NFL was compelled to merge with the AFL to avoid escalating player salaries and competition for television viewers.
The most interesting thing about Hunt through all this was his decency and humanity. Unlike many who didn’t earn but were handed vast amounts of wealth who slid into slovenly habits and narcissism, Hunt was considered by his peers to be very nice, decent man and one who worked hard at his passion – sports. Even during the intensive rivalry with the NFL’s expansion franchise the Dallas Cowboys, he managed to stay friendly with Dallas’s other billionaire football owner Clint Murchison.
The other amazing thing about Lamar Hunt was the other sports he was passionate about and some he helped get off the ground. For example he was an original minority owner of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. He helped create the modern open era tennis by co-founding the World Championship Tennis circuit and is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Finally, Hunt is instrumental in first bringing professional soccer to the United States as an owner of a Dallas professional soccer franchise, despite it rankling owners in the NFL. While the league eventually collapsed, it was the precursor to today’s Major League Soccer.
The story of Hunt and the AFL-NFL merger is well told in other places but this biography also does that seminal event justice, while expanding ones knowledge of just how instrumental Hunt was in the sports world in general.
While the writing lacks a lot to be desired, the content is worth the effort.