SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
September 16, 1963
On the plane that carried the Kansas City Chiefs, the champions of the American Football League, across the shadow of the Rockies to their opening game against the Denver Broncos last week, Abner Haynes, the team's fancy running back and a virtual symbol of the league itself, was giggling and twisting in the aisle and winning an argument about Texas. Haynes was claiming that his home state, and the place from which the Chiefs had moved, had given pro football a greater number of stars than California. "Just name the position, baby," said Haynes to talent director Don Klosterman, a Californian. "Halfbacks," said Klosterman. "Go, baby," said Haynes. Klosterman said, "Jon Arnett." Haynes's eyes flashed and he said, "Oh, give me Doak Walker, quick." Klosterman hurriedly offered, "Hugh McElhenny." Haynes paused a second, snapped his fingers and said, "Abner Haynes. Ooh, baby." And Abner danced away.
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September 16, 1963

Too Many Chiefs Made Too Many Touchdowns

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The finally-chosen name has a double significance for which Hunt is grateful. Aside from being representative of the old Indian territory, the name honors the man who had more than anyone else to do with luring Hunt to Kansas City, former Mayor H. Roe Bartle, who is known on every street corner as "The Chief."

Hunt, a quiet, mild, cleanly handsome young man in glasses whose most notorious vice is eating strawberry cheesecake in unlikely quantities, was frankly overwhelmed by the eloquent, exuberant, outgoing H. Roe Bartle, a 67-year-old, 300-pound campaigner.

Bartle approached Hunt about the move last winter. Then, after a series of secret meetings in Kansas City, during which time Lamar Hunt was introduced as "Mr. Lamar" and Jack Steadman was known as "Jack X, a government investigator," Bartle sold Hunt on Kansas City and sold Kansas City's business leaders on the Dallas Texans. There were code words used in telephone conversations, and some of the conversations were on private lines. No one in Dallas besides Hunt and Steadman ever knew what was going to happen. Nor did Kansas City's city council and business leaders like ex-Kansas All-America Ray Evans, now president of Traders' National Bank and leader of the ticket drive, spill the big secret.

At the first meeting between Hunt and the city council, Roe Bartle said, "Gentlemen, you have known me a long time and you have never known me to make love to another man, but, Mr. Hunt, I have courted you and wooed you like a princess, have I not?"

Says Hunt, " Kansas City can be sure that Mr. Bartle and Ray Evans are two of the biggest reasons why we went to Kansas City."

There were at least seven other reasons for the move: the rest of the AFL owners, who had been begging Hunt to get out of Dallas since the antitrust suit against the NFL was lost and buried in appeal. "He can go to Tokyo just as long as he leaves Dallas," said San Diego's Barron Hilton. Torn between his loyalty to the league he originated and the city he loved, Hunt struggled with the problem—and might still be struggling if it had not been for KC's attractive offer.

Hunt has worried about the league as much as he has about the players that he boyishly and gleefully serves meals to on the team planes and joins for workouts on the practice field.

"In my enthusiasm," says Hunt, who belies the old tales about rich, obtrusive Texans, "I have probably been responsible for as many bad ideas as good ones. I invented the secret draft, a totally embarrassing calamity. I voted against the two-point conversion rule, which I now like. I keep suggesting mandatory kick-off returns, elimination of the fair catch on punts, sudden-death playoffs for all games, names on the fronts of jerseys, a silent draft and lie-detector tests twice a year for all game officials."

And he says cheerfully, "I keep getting voted down 7-1." Hunt, however, has been instrumental in doing a lot of good things for his league. He has been at least partly responsible for the equal division among clubs of television revenue ("The NFL copied us"), the hiring of Commissioner Joe Foss, who got off to a slow start but is now showing strength, the equalization draft of players, the antitrust suit against the competing NFL "which showed them we were serious and meant to stay in business," and, comically, getting rid of the Denver Broncos' vertical-striped socks.

Although Hunt continues to live in Dallas, he also continues to devote most of his time to league promotion. He is an ardent letter writer. He writes to league officials, sportswriters over the nation, owners and publicity men, always making suggestions and offering congratulations on things well done and well said.

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