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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Matthew Kelly

Sports Legend Lamar Hunt Jr. Interviews with Matthew Kelly


Matthew Kelly:

Hi. I'm Matthew Kelly. Welcome to Profoundly Human. My guest today Lamar Hunt, Jr. Lamar, how are you?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Great. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Matthew Kelly:

Ah, it's so good to see you. Thank you for coming.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Wonderful to be here.

Matthew Kelly:

Rough questions, very tough questions to start always. Are you a coffee drinker?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Just decaf with a lot of cream and some sweetener.

Matthew Kelly:

Just decaf. Now, were you at some time a caffeinated coffee drinker?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I really wasn't. Dr. Pepper?

Matthew Kelly:

Dr. Pepper.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Waco, Texas, Dr. Pepper Museum, all that kind of stuff. I love Dr. Pepper.

Matthew Kelly:

Okay. What about favorite food?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Oh my gosh. Anything.

Matthew Kelly:

Anything?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Oh, favorite food. I mean, given my age now a little bit more, I like a lot of fish. But I would say growing up, I mean, it was steaks and hamburgers, for sure. All the time.

Matthew Kelly:

Good. What about favorite band or musician?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Chicago.

Matthew Kelly:

Chicago?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Yes, but I got to say my first live concert was The Beatles.

Matthew Kelly:

Really?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Twice.

Matthew Kelly:

Wow.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Once in Dallas and once in Kansas City. Very cool. Lots of screaming, lots of yelling, but my favorite band of all time is probably the group, Chicago.

Matthew Kelly:

Now, when you went to see the Beatles, I got to ask, what was that like?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, I just mentioned a little bit of it. There was a lot of screaming, a lot of yelling. And that was a little disconcerting because I was like seven or eight years old or maybe eight or nine. '64, '65 in their 19s. That was a little disconcerting to me because I just wanted to listen to the music because it was like, "Oh my gosh, they're actually here and real." Because we had the record player and we would play their records. But it was really cool. I mean they were so gifted.

Matthew Kelly:

Did you know at the time or did people know at the time how incredibly huge they were becoming?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Right. They had been on that Ed Sullivan's show. And so that was the special thing. It was at the Dallas Convention Center and I think that building is still standing. Then we also got to see it in what we would call the old Kansas City stadium where the Chiefs and the Royals play, or the athletics played baseball back in the '60s and '70s.

Matthew Kelly:

So the first time you saw them was '64?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I think it was 1964.

Matthew Kelly:

And then the second time?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Not shortly thereafter in Kansas City. I want to say it was the same year.

Matthew Kelly:

Okay. Could you notice any difference between the two?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I do remember this. One was in the convention center, so it was a more closed in environment. The other was out on... It was a baseball field, I think at that point. So it may have been late summer, early fall is what I'm thinking. And that was more diffuse. And that's probably retrospective of just picking up stuff.

Matthew Kelly:

Got it. What about favorite city in the world to visit?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

London.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

What do you love about London?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

They speak English. Partly, it's our heritage as a family. Last name of Hunt. We have relatives that we can trace back coming over at specific times that we've got that story to tell, that connection. Just love a whole lot of things about England. The countryside. Got to travel there as a young person, got to go to Wimbledon, tennis, saw Evonne Goolagong win Wimbledon. People ask me very often, and maybe I'm digressing, but what was the most exciting sporting event I've ever been to? Her winning Wimbledon.

Matthew Kelly:

Wow.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Seeing her beat Billie Jean King and Margaret Court back to back. She was 19 years old. And then Stan Smith, the American won the men. So it was pretty exciting to see that. But I just remember the amazement in the crowd. It was just unbelievable. But going into England to just going to Stratford-upon-Avon, seeing Shakespeare, things like that, the Globe Theater, the London Philharmonic Symphony, those sorts of things. Just the culture, Stone Hinge, all the things. There's a lot on that little aisle.

Matthew Kelly:

Yes there is. Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up? Tell us a little bit about childhood.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

It was hot growing up. We grew up in Dallas, Texas. Okay. I was just speaking earlier to some of the staff here that's helping you put this on, went to an all boys school, third through 12th grade Episcopal affiliation. So we had Episcopal priests on site and it was an all boys school. So it was very formal, uniforms. We had an English headmaster when I first arrived there, Christopher Beresford. We had a French Dean of students. We had, I remember biology, Sir Arthur Douglas, we called him. But he said, "Well prepared. Not sad nor vexed pencil line, paper, notebook, and text.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So I got a beautiful formal education. But as far as we did sports, things like that, played in the street a lot or in the fields around the house, things like that. And then for me, obviously, I got involved in music at some point. Being in an all boys school, we were given instruments to play and things like that, learned to read music and things like that. So growing up for me was a lot of play, a lot of sports, but I got exposed to some of the more beautiful things in life.

Matthew Kelly:

What was your favorite sport growing up?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Baseball.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Yeah. Because I think we just played it outside. It was so easy to play in somebody's front yard or in the street or whatever. But I wasn't particularly actually that good at it, but I've always enjoyed it.

Matthew Kelly:

What is your favorite sport today?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I'm supposed to say football. I love football, but I still... There's something about baseball. And then I would say tennis. My wife can profess that I was very hooked on the US Open recently.

Matthew Kelly:

What did you think of the US Open this year?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I was just so excited to see the young players. One of them an Italian, whose last name is Sinner, which I thought was such an interesting last name, I'd followed him a little bit. He's so gifted. I didn't know much about the Spaniard that ultimately won Alcaraz or something like that. But just got taken by him and his energy and things like that. And just how he didn't wilt. Really loved that.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Always appreciated the Venus Williams, Sabrina... Serena, Serena. I'm sorry, Serena. And just so we watched some of their final matches just to just respect for what they've been for the game of tennis. But I like the US Open. I'd like to go to it at some point. So I really enjoyed it.

Matthew Kelly:

Fantastic. What are you most excited about in your life today?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Oh my gosh. So we have a beautiful family. Lots of friendships through our church. And men's groups, things like that. I think now given the age I'm at, which is getting into the mid 60s, grandchildren. And actually seeing our children be married, have children still some under... They're considering marriage or whatever their relationship. Just seeing their lives unfold, it's kind of a wonderful blessing. It really is. I'd say for us that my wife Rita says, "We've retired. We just want to enjoy the grandchildren."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I don't mean that as a cliche. I mean it sincerely. I had a grandfather that really cherished us and I remember so many memories with him and I think it's a special thing.

Matthew Kelly:

How is being a grandfather different to what you thought it would be?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Actually some of the grandkids will come running to you saying, "Help me from my parents, help me." No, I'm teasing a little bit there. You know What it is? What I notice is that when I'm around them and there are the kid things that come out just wrestling with their emotions or the struggles in life as a grandparent, you're not nearly as reactive. You're able to be a steady influence. You don't feel that need to step in and try to correct them or guide them or get that edge with them, you sort of take it in and listen and then you say, "Hey, have you thought of this? Or what about that?" I think we're calmer, for sure.

Matthew Kelly:

Would you advise parents to adopt that calmness a little bit more?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I definitely would, definitely. Don't get into the reactivity. Go ahead and let it ride. Fancy phrase I've heard once is roll with the resistance, right? I think choices are good for kids. Just say, "Gosh, there's another way you could do this." And kind of help them. But I think if you react to vitriol with vitriol, it doesn't work. It just doesn't work. We all know that. But there's a calmness. There really is a calmness and a sweetness and a pleasantness of just being present. So it's kind of cool.

Matthew Kelly:

It is. I know your faith is important to you. Was there a moment in your life where you feel like the faith became your own?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I would say for myself and that's just, I think everybody's journey is personal. If I think most recently the death of my mother which was just heart-wrenching. But if I go back, I think my mother's presence throughout my life was somebody that was planning seas. It might have been a Bible verse on a cabinet or the insistence that you're going to go to Sunday school. Even though I will confess that we cut sometimes Sunday school. We just go to the playground and play. But there was that sort of hand, if you will, walking through with us and say, "Hey, this is important."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Now we may not have thought so, or we may have argued or we may have just been indifferent, but there would be different times in life. One was the death of a stepfather going into a Catholic church and being upset with him way too young, didn't take care of his health. Why did I go in a Catholic church? I don't know to this day.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Reading. I love to read. And so just finding some things like my father, John Harden was very helpful for me. I think there was just a lot of seeds planted, meeting good clergy, solid clergy, if you would say that. I would say that would be true in the Methodist church. I can remember vividly the two Episcopal priests at the school that I was at.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I mean, those are the two that I remember and then just encountering Catholic priests along the way. Different people like that was like, "Wow, these are wonderful witnesses." I just think a lot of seeds were planted. I just think sometimes the school of hard knocks going through some difficult things in your own life. Some of it, your own manufacturing, some of your own doing. And I think ultimately trying to just take responsibility for that, but not beating yourself up. I think that's the key. Take responsibility, but it's not you totally.

Matthew Kelly:

How do you find that balance?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

The balance now is really the understanding in your life that God's forgiveness rules, but it rules in such a tender, wonderful way. And what I mean by that is he is present. He's always present and he loves us more than we love ourselves. He loves us in spite of ourselves. And to understand that as a Catholic now, just the power of going to the sacrament of confession, there's that desire to relate to another person to tell, "Hey, I've been struggling with this or I did this." And it could be any number of things.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

It could be gossip or any number of things you can think of. But I think right now the balance is learning to forgive yourself and trusting in God. I think that's where people like, "He really has forgiven." Are there consequences? Absolutely. Disappointingly sometimes. But I think learning to forgive yourself. And I always remember this line from A Diary of a Mad Black Woman. How do you know if you've forgiven someone and you have a chance to get even, but you don't? So letting go, letting go. I know some of this sounds like cliches to people, but it's reality. It really is. It's the truth.

Matthew Kelly:

Well, cliches, that's how cliches become cliches. Right?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I hope so.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I hope so, yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

You grew up in a really, a legendary sporting family.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

What was that like?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, my dad was a guy who had an idea a minute. He really did. He was very much a marketing sort of person, a very loyal, very calm, but high energy kind of guy. I think he set a good example. I never heard the man curse or I never saw him lose his temper. I'm sure he had his frustrations. He was a very calm individual, but he was also very creative. So it wasn't that I grew up in it, it was just like it was present. It was present. And the privilege of being able to go to so many different things, mentioning going to Wimbledon and seeing Evonne Goolagong when I'm a teenager and things like that.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

If she was 19, I was probably 14 or 15 when she won that. But that aside, I mean, getting to go see Pelé playing the World Cup or go to a Super Bowl or go to the World Series in Detroit and see Mickey Lolich pitch against... Oh no, Denny McLain pitch against Bob Gibson in the 1968 World Series because the Chiefs had played in Buffalo on a Saturday. So we got to go to a game on a Sunday. Or it could have been vice versa. I don't know.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So sports was just part of our environment. I mean, through SMU, the college in Dallas, my dad was an alumni there. So we went to the football game. So we saw some of the great... They had some great teams. I don't remember all the players, but it was just a constant stream of going to sporting events and getting to travel and do some really powerful life experiences.

Matthew Kelly:

Did you know your dad was a visionary when you were a child or is that something that you just became mindful of as you got older?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I would say it was something that came through retrospective, just learning about it. Gosh, I mean, I had to work at training camp a couple of summers. Had to is not the right word. I mean, you were dropped off at the college dorm up in William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and go in there and talk to Bobby Yarborough. He'll tell you what to do for the next month. You just did it and you just did the work and didn't complain. It was just part of life. I learned how to work. I'll tell you that and got to interface with what I realize now were some very young men even though I was just a kid, but just those sorts of experience.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I mean it was just the atmosphere. It was just the world we were in. It's hard to describe it. You didn't think of my dad as a big creator in all of this or somebody that contributed so much, if you will. I didn't think of that.

Matthew Kelly:

So that was Chiefs training camp?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

And how old would you be?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I think I did it in summers when I was 13 and 14. I know one after the Super Bowl. Well, they won it after the 69 season and probably those two summers. Probably I was in eighth and ninth grade is what I think. And then of course your own sports life sort of takes over. And plus I was involved in music as well.

Matthew Kelly:

The winner of the AFCG gets the Lamar Hunt trophy.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

They do.

Matthew Kelly:

What does that feel like each year?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, it's nice to have played for it the last four years in a row and won it twice. That's kind of cool. It's just an honor. I mean to be put in the same breath with George Halas on the NFC side of things who is really a legendary family, a legendary man in the whole history of pro football. The family owns the Chicago Bears now and things like that. So it just a beautiful testimony to really what he was as a person.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I mean, he really was a steward. He was well to do, came from a well-to-do family. He got trained to be a geologist. But I'll tell you what one word I use with him with my dad has earned success. And it's a word that I've been able to speak about that people want to make a high level of contribution and they want to earn success.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Now, that doesn't mean they want recognition, but they want to contribute to the success of others. I would say that was one of my dad's great qualities. If you just think about in pro football and just the opportunity for the African-American players, the AFL kind of led the way in that.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Not the NFL did too, of course, but it was this opportunities that he saw. So he wanted others to thrive and to succeed and have success in their lives. There's so many great stories about him just helping guys, no matter what with their lives and things like that. So that was kind of cool.

Matthew Kelly:

I've heard you tell a story about his desire to have a team and you're talking to different people. Why don't you walk us through, how did that bubble up in him and how did that come to be?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So to this day, one of his good friends is still alive. My dad would be 90. If he were alive today, sadly, he died at age 74. So this friend, Tom Richie is 88. I haven't seen Tom in a few years because life gets in the way, but he would come to a lot of Chiefs games even after my dad passed.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

They went to the Detroit Lions' training camp as a group of young guys in 1955. And they wanted to see Bobby Lane. One of my dad's favorite college players go in training camp. Apparently according to Tom Richie, dad is standing on the sidelines of the training camp. My dad is 23 years old and he goes, "Wouldn't it be cool to own a pro football team?"

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Now, he just finished his degree in geology and things like that and he was working in the oil and gas business. So flash forward a few years to probably 1958, I think that would be the right year, he's the Chicago Cardinals. Chicago has two football teams, the Bears and the Cardinals. It's the Bidwill family. So he says, "Well, I'm going to make an attempt to try to buy the Chicago Cardinals and move them to Dallas. I'd like to have a franchise in Dallas."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

What he was seeing so well was there were markets where this sport would really succeed. It would really take off. Dallas didn't have a team. It's Texas. Football rules in Texas, even in the '50s. Right? But he tries to go in and talk to the family and several repeated attempts and finally meets with them down in Miami, Florida during a winter. And it just isn't going to work.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Now, during this entire process, he has been making friends with a lot of different people. Baron Hilton would be an example from the Hilton family, things like that. So he had accumulated some names, but anyway, the meeting ends, he gets on a plane in Miami, coming back to Dallas. He asks for some stationary, American airline stationary and he writes up a business plan for the American football league. He has enough contacts, so he starts to form the league. That's what he does. And of course that's a rival league.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

The NFL knows they're quite serious because these are very wealthy young people. They really are. My dad was a baby. He was 27 years old or something like that when he was really putting the wheels to this, putting his energy to it, so in 1959. So he forms the league and I always like to tell this story, the Minnesota franchise was in the original AFL and people don't always know this, but the NFL does a couple of things.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

They put a team in Dallas, the Cowboys. They poach the Vikings. So they start making some chess moves, if you will to say, "We're going to try to thwart this league." Well, what happens is the NFL does come to my dad and says, "Look, you're down to seven teams. We'll take four teams. The other three need to go away." And my dad in a really great act of loyalty says, "No, we're going to go find an eighth team and we're going to play as the American football league."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

And they do, and that's how we got the Oakland Raiders who are now the Las Vegas Raiders. I like to tell that story because the Raiders have always been a Chiefs nemesis. But the determination of the grit, if you will, but that loyalty to the other seven guys, other seven teams that he had spoken with and got it ramped up and got the business plan together, they started playing in 1960 and that is really one of the... It's a great success story. And ultimately it forced, if you will, a merger with the NFL.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

The league brought a different kind of style of play and things like that. To football, there was a lot more passing, things like that. But that's kind of the journey. So the journey was just really from standing on a sideline, watching a favorite college football player who's playing professional football and going, "Gee, wouldn't it be cool to have a team to, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do this."

Matthew Kelly:

Where is the business plan that was written on American Airlines letterhead?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

It sits in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. So not terribly far from here in Cincinnati.

Matthew Kelly:

Yes. It's amazing.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

My dad's microscopic handwriting. He wrote in microscopic tiny print.

Matthew Kelly:

Wow.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Yeah. Amazing.

Matthew Kelly:

He is described by many people as maybe the first the person to see the potential of football on television.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Right, yes.

Matthew Kelly:

What do you remember about that?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So my understanding, it's the year 1958. So it would've been two. So probably not totally aware of everything, but I think he sees the championship game between the Baltimore Colts, and I'm not sure the other team. Oh my gosh. I should remember that. It's the NFL championship. And the game goes into overtime. Johnny Unitas is involved, the great quarterback. He's watching the game and he says, "My gosh, the potential for this to really reach a national audience."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

And hence the idea of putting franchises in markets like Dallas, like Houston, like San Diego, where there was large populations and large interest in sports. That's where it germinated. I think you saw that college football was tremendously popular on television and pro football was not eclipsing those ratings at that point in time. It was a NFL championship game that it went into overtime as I understand it. Yeah. So

Matthew Kelly:

Would you have imagined that football on television... Well, even your father, if he understood the nature of football on television today, what would be his reaction to that?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

It's funny as you asked me that question. So my dad dies on December 13th, 2006. For many years, he had lobbied to try to get the Thanksgiving games to have a different rotation than just going to Detroit or Dallas. The Thanksgiving before he was to pass, so whatever that would've been late November, the chiefs were on national television with a Thanksgiving day game from Kansas City. So we're in a hospital room in Dallas. They roll in a TV. This was 2006. He's in a lot of pain with late stages of prostate cancer, great survival rate for when the initial diagnosis of eight years earlier.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

He did a really phenomenal job of fighting it. They roll it in and we watched the game. He goes, "I can never have imagined that pro football would've become this captivating for people."

Matthew Kelly:

Wow.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

That's in '06. So since then, it's escalated to even more than anything. I mean his gratitude, I'll always remember his gratitude as he faced his final days for the gifts he'd got in his life. In fact, I remember praying our father with him and asking him, "Dad, are you ready?" And he goes, "I cannot have imagined the life that was given to me and he couldn't imagine all the beautiful things he got to do and to contribute to people's lives."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So he was about the other person. I would say he was a man for others, but that I'll remember watching in that hotel... Not hotel the hospital room. He wasn't technically in hospice at that point, but it was that last hospital visit and he chose ultimately to spend hospice his hospice time at the hospital. He did not want to go home and do that and I understand that.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

The support and everything was there, but just watching that game after lobbying so many years. It can't just be in Dallas and Detroit every year. Well, it still is, dad. But that was a beautiful favor that the league extended.

Matthew Kelly:

So in 1970, the Chiefs win the Super Bowl. Were you there?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I was there. What I remember was Al Hirt. Is he a trumpet player? I think so. And then was Doc Severinsen in there? They were both there and they had a jazz, had a Orleans flavor in New Orleans. So I remember that. That was cool. It was a festive environment. I remember that they were riding. We were riding down on an elevator and later with the ownership of the Vikings who the Chiefs were playing and people commenting that the Viking ownership was very nervous about this football game.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I'm a kid, so I'm not really noticing those sort of things. I remember the game, it was exciting. It was like, "Wow, is this really happening? "And then I remember the game after, he just hugged me and he said, "We're so fortunate to have been here because we could have just as well lost the AFL championship game to those Jets." Because that game was really close. There was a goal line stand in the red zone, what we call a red zone now, late in the game.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Otherwise it would've possibly gone into a tie and then who knows from overtime. So he was very gracious about that, but we clobbered him. I think they were truly surprised, but it was just hard to believe. It really was. I mean, the AFL had won the Super Bowl the year before the Jets had done that with Joe Namath. But still it was like, this is the kind of stamp that says, "We're here. We're for real. You're going to have to deal with this."

Matthew Kelly:

50 years later, 2020, the Chiefs win again.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

They do.

Matthew Kelly:

What was that like?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Hard to believe. Because we're sitting... We had a large group of contingent. We had 40 people in two suites. We're all open together, large family, grandkids, some relatives, things like that. And we're about. It's about halfway through the third quarter, or late in the third quarter. And it was like, "This is not looking good. We're not moving the ball. We're not doing anything."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

The game continues. We do make some plays. We get back in it, but it's still not over and we're told, "You need to go down to the field." We're like, "No, we don't know." There's kind of this misgiving, "No, you're going to be walking down to the field." So we get down on the field getting ready to go out on the field. And the game is not over. And that's when Damien Williams caught a touchdown pass and ran it in. It was like, "This is for real. This is going to happen." But still, the game was not over because Garopolo for the 49ers still had a drive in him.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I think we intercepted and the game was definitely over, but it was just Bedlam is what I would describe it as. Just hugging each other, running all over the place. Not really knowing where to go, that sort of thing. Confetti everywhere. It was just surreal. It really was. It was beautiful.

Matthew Kelly:

What about the 50 years in between and thinking they would win or hoping they would win? What was that like?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I was just reflecting the other day with my oldest son, Lamar the III that I said, "Do you remember we took you to a couple of Super Bowls?" Because what we did was we wanted all the children to experience the Super Bowl because we thought we're never going to know when the Chiefs get there again. It's never going to happen because it was a long drought.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I think it's like anything. You had some years where you thought you should have gone. I can remember team under Marty Schottenheimer in the late '90s may have been one of our best teams. Didn't make it. One year, gosh, in 2003. We were undefeated went 9 and 0 the first nine games and we ended up 13 and 3 and we thought, "Oh, this is for real. This is a team." And then there was a couple of teams with Coach Reed, who's been the head coach for a number of years now that we thought "This is it, this is it."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

But it was just finally with obviously a great quarterback, Patrick Mahomes and that sort of team chemistry is what a coach will tell you. The drought was broken. Now, we've been to four AFC championship games in a row and it's kind of like, "Okay, well we're used to this. We're spoiled.

Matthew Kelly:

You've been around a lot of great athletes throughout your life. How good is Mahomes?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So recently Len Dawson passed and my brother Clark, I think he made a good comment. He goes, "Well, we had Patrick Mahomes before Patrick Mahomes was Patrick Mahomes," meaning Len Dawson. So Patrick is a wonderful young man. He's clearly a family man, a gifted young man. I think he's really focused on what he does. He's a team player. He's a leader. From everything I see, he takes time for those that are less fortunate.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I don't mean just because he might have set up a foundation or whatever, but I mean, he takes the time to do things that people will ask him to do as best he can. He's a special guy, but I think you would recognize there's probably still a lot of pressure on him. I mean, pressure to perform. And then once you've been successful people, have you marked every week. You're going to get the best effort every week from somebody. And you can see that in some of the games. I mean, he gets hit a little bit more than he used to, he'll take it. He's awesome.

Matthew Kelly:

What do you love about football?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, I mentioned earlier that baseball is my favorite sport and I think it's because I'm more of a contemplative person and there's a lot of little nuances to baseball. What I like about football is there's a rhythm to the game. There's a flow and it may be the ways the game is constructed. And yes, there are games that are blowouts and things like that. But there's a lot of... Because it's so physical, they're not going to put unphysical guys on the field.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So each game you have a chance. You really do. And yeah, there's the excitement of the big plays, but there's also this character that has to show up late third quarter, early fourth quarter when you're gassed. And who really wants this? I even remember when I played high school football, there was some of that in the fourth quarter like, "Hey, I just seen this thing be over. I'm tired." And that's just as a kid in high school, but it really brings out the best in some of these young men.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Many of them are so just grateful for the opportunity. All of them are so grateful just for the opportunity to get to do it. But I like that part of it a lot too. Yes, the salaries are fantastic and things like that. But just seeing these young men come together and build a team is pretty cool. Pretty exciting. It really is.

Matthew Kelly:

In 1972, Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver, two great Australians had an epic match in the final of the WCT. You were the ball boy.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I was.

Matthew Kelly:

How did that happen?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, my dad had begun a company called world championship tennis, and the idea was to grow the sport, grow it through television and grow it through sponsorships and grow it through events in various cities to sort in a sense, create a professional circuit. I think the origin of his thinking was there was a lot of amateurism in tennis. Let's go ahead and make it bonafide, make it real. Let's bring it up to the professional level. Let's recognize these guys for what they're doing.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So what my dad did was the vision was to have the world championship tennis finals. It was in May of every year. There was the Australian open, but it was before the French and Wimbledon to sort of add that, if you will, fifth major. It was a big deal. But the players needed to be rewarded. So it was about any business that was going out, finding the sponsorship, getting the eyeballs, proving the business concept. Ticket sales, all those sorts of things.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So WCT started mid to late '60s. I want to say it was '67. I'd have to look exactly at the history. I think it's '67 to '86. So the labor Rosewall... In fact, they played, I think, in back to back. So we were around it. My oldest first cousin Al Hill, Jr. Worked for my dad in the business. So I really answered to Al. He was an older first cousin and he was quite a good tennis player himself. He'd played at least collegiately and maybe minor professional or whatever they would've been.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

There's these matches and we need ball boys. And so a friend of mine, Jay Lucas, who still good friends with to this day, we were at the net and back and forth, back and forth. After the match was over, I'll never forget this, we get to go back and talk to the players or meet them. And Ken Rosewall, my dad says to him, he was the ball boy at the net and Ken Rosewall looks and goes, "Oh, really? Well, thank you." And it was like, he was so focused on the match, he didn't know who was who and I get it, but that was the level of concentration. They were both great gentlemen. Jay and I, the next day complained at school, "Boy, do our knees hurt."

Matthew Kelly:

So when you think about what your dad did with football, you think about what your dad did with tennis, what do you think he'd think about LIV Golf?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

LIV Golf? Oh my gosh. I know a little bit about it. I know it's a competitor for the PGA. He was a big believer in free market, in entrepreneurship. I think like anything, he was good with numbers back of envelope type of stuff. He would want to make it work financially. So I think that's what he would want to visit with and talk about. Trying to grow the sport, that was his thing and he believed in that.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So I think he would probably say, "Hey, let's bring it on and see what happens." I know there's a lot of hard feelings about it and I'm not an official spokesman on any of that stuff, but let's see what happens, I guess.

Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. Very good. In 2015, you bought the hockey team, the Mavericks.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

What inspired that? What brought that about?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Well, Kansas City where we live, they have obviously the football and the baseball. Major league franchises, Major League Baseball, National Football League. They do have an MLS team, Sporting KC, and the Mavericks was there and it was something we were able to bring local ownership in. It was a very reasonable deal. I've always enjoyed the sport of hockey.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

It's really great live. TV is TV, but it's a really good sport. It's very engaging live, especially when you see how fast it is and the thinking and the movement that goes on. Sports can be a platform and that's kind of what we've used it for. It's been good for us because we're profitable as a team. We have a great audience, a great crowds. We do a really good job of really doing things in the community. One of our partners, for example, would be Boys & Girls Club, which is something that's near and dear to my heart, meeting these kids after school, where they are giving them some structure and purpose in their lives.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

It changes their lives. There's many organizations, but we partner with those sorts of things. I think we're honored to be able to give back to the community. Obviously, for the young men that are playing the sport, they have dreams. We've had probably eight or nine players go on and play in the National Hockey League. One or two have played in the Stanley Cup, so they had a touchpoint with the Mavericks at one time.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

So there's that, in a sense like Minor League Baseball, those players that fight their way through all of this. Many of the young men that we've met are wonderful. Some of them are having to think about, "Okay, my dream didn't happen. I'm going to pivot out." Most of them have college degrees, which is a very impressive thing. So we're able to help them on a number of different levels and we're very proud of that. It's a great little sport for Kansas City. It fits our niche.

Matthew Kelly:

What's it like for a player, whether it's hockey or baseball or football? What's it like for a player the day they either realize, or the day they're told, "You can't play anymore"?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

I'm real good friends with the Chiefs hall of famer, Will Shields. A wonderful man. And he's been so nice to be a part of some charity things. I asked him a question one time that was basically, "What was it like to prepare for life after football?" And he said, starting when he was in high school and maybe even junior high, he had this sort of height, weight dimensions that people are already identifying, "This guy is going to be a really good high school football player and he's going to be a really good college football player. And he probably will be a pro."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

They project these things out. So he said that from really starting early in high school, every day was programmed for him. He got his education. He has his college degrees, great. But he said every day was programmed. So then he got drafted by the Chiefs. I think the second game of his career, he's plug and play. He has, I don't know how many starts a hundred and some odd starts from then on. Hall of fame career. And he said, "Then the day I woke up, when I didn't have football," he said, "It was strange because there was no schedule."

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Now he said, "I had been preparing for some of that, because I knew it was coming." But he said, "That's the thing." You get sort of locked in to this team. You're part of something and then one day you're not and you've got to have a plan." So I think for the players that have plans, have ideas, have other dreams, other hopes for their lives and they do. They do, but they want to live. They want to live this part out while they're young. It works really well.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

For others, it's a harder transition. Transitions are difficult in life. We all know that. Again, it's the truth. It really is. Whether you're having your first child or you're going from high school to college or college to the work world, or marriage. These are big transitions, those first jobs or whatever, or pivoting in a career. That's really what it's like for these guys. In the case of the hockey players, many of them cannot remember even learning to skate.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

That was just part of growing up. It was like walking. You don't remember when you learned to walk really. I mean they were a little older, but maybe three or four. So it's a big deal at age 27 or 28 to say, "Well, I've got to get practical here and find another course in my life, another route that I need to go on." I think for the football players, it's... For all sports athletes, it's that way. You're going to actually work more in your life outside of the sport than you did in the sport.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

A lot of teams now have preparation. They have people that'll help you guide that, mentor you or coach you or direct you, which I think is important.

Matthew Kelly:

We're seeing some interesting things at the moment in the water sport. You've got Serena Williams. I mean, two legendary tennis players, Serena Williams and Roger Federer.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Oh, yeah.

Matthew Kelly:

Retiring. Definitely know any of the peak of their game and probably not retiring when they want to retire. But certainly in Federer's case, he has a persistent injury that he is just going to prevent him from getting back to the top of his game. And then you've got Tom Brady who retired. He was essentially at the top of the world. It then has come back. So who knows what might happen between now and when he retires and what that might look like.

Matthew Kelly:

Do you think some players know when to hang it up and some players want to hold onto it for as long as possible? Or what is the psychology of that?

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

Sure. I mean, it's tied to our identity of course and comfort zone and achievement and things like that. Two people that I know very, very well. One is named Chris Godfrey who played for the New York Giants and has a ministry called Life Athletes. He lives up in the Great Bend. Not Great Bend. I'm sorry. Great Bend is where my wife is from. What's the one? South Bend, Indiana. He lives up there. But he said he went to training camp. There's a picture of him holding Bill Parcells on a shoulder after the Giants won a Super Bowl. He had a really fine career as a guard.

Lamar Hunt, Jr:

He went to training camp and I think he started and he said... I don't know how old he was. He was probably mid to late 30s at the most. And he goes, "I just don't want to do this anymore." He was done and he told him, "I'm going to go ahead and retire." So that story for him is the way it was. The other one I know really well