Tonight, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs will face off in the Super Bowl. By all accounts, it should be a great game, pitting one of the game's best defenses and a strong rushing attack (the 49ers) against the most explosive offense in the NFL, led by young superstar Patrick Mahomes.
You may already be rooting for one team based on previous fandom, a specific player or a personal history. The Razorbacks aren't particularly well-represented Sunday, although former Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw is suiting up for San Francisco. LSU fairs better with alums Kwon Alexander (49ers), Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs) and Morris Claiborne (Chiefs).
If you're undecided about which team to pull for today, and if you're attending a Super Bowl party for more than just the snacks (which, by the way, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do), then I would suggest cheering for Kansas City due to the Chiefs' significant El Dorado connection: Lamar Hunt.
Hunt, the son of oil tycoon H.L Hunt (widely considered the richest man in the world when he died in 1974) was born in El Dorado in 1932. H.L. purchased oil-rich land near El Dorado, owning more than 40 oil wells before eventually securing the famous East Texas Oil Field and building his immense fortune. While he was born in El Dorado, and his father spent time living in Arkansas, Lamar was raised in Dallas, and co-founded the upstart American Football League and Dallas Texans to challenge the NFL.
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While Hunt's Texans were successful, the quick arrival of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys led him to relocate to Kansas City. When the AFL and NFL decided to join forces to play a championship game between the two leagues, it was officially called the AFL-NFL Championship Game. Hunt, who was inspired by his children playing with a toy Super Ball, suggested the name Super Bowl as a placeholder until a better one could be found. The media picked up on the name (because literally anything is better than the AFL-NFL Championship Game) and his Chiefs played in the first Super Bowl in 1967 (the name would become official two years later), losing to Bart Starr and the Packers 35-10.
The Chiefs would win the Super Bowl in 1969. For a franchise that won three AFL Championships (1962, 1966 and 1969) and a Super Bowl, fans probably thought success would be a regular visitor to the Paris of the Plains, but it wasn't until 50 years later — this season — that the Chiefs return to the game their founder named.
Lamar Hunt did all sorts of other things, through both his own ingenuity and inherited fortune. He was the principal founder of Major League Soccer, creating the Kansas City Wizards and owning two MLS teams when he died in Dallas in 2006, the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas. His son, Clark is the chairman and CEO of the Chiefs and oversees FC Dallas. Lamar Hunt remains the only El Dorado native in the National Football Hall of Fame.
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If you have a non-denominational approach to football, I hope I've convinced you to pull for the Chiefs. The connection may be tenuous, but should Kansas City hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy tonight, the foundation of that title was laid here in El Dorado almost 90 years ago.
I have reasons to root for both sides. Greg Kittle, San Francisco's start tight end, was born in Norman, Oklahoma (the location of the newspaper I ran before this one) and played for Norman High School. For the most part, I'm just hoping for a good game. The Super Bowl so often ends up being quite a boring football game. But at least there will be snacks.
Caleb Slinkard is the managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. He previously served as editor of two dailies and four weeklies in Oklahoma and Texas. To contact him, email [email protected].