KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One minute before kickoff in the first AFC Championship Game in Arrowhead Stadium history, Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt will grab a mallet and pound the team’s iconic tom-tom during the pregame ceremony.
It’s fitting given that the Chiefs — a franchise Clark’s father, Lamar Hunt, founded and owned until his death in 2006 — will try to win the trophy named in Lamar Hunt’s honor for the first time at 5:40 p.m. Sunday against the New England Patriots.
“It would be awesome to get that to Clark,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “We haven’t gotten that trophy before, this team. For us to kind of bring it back home in a sense would be truly an honor for me and this team, to bring that trophy to Clark and to this whole community.”
Lamar Hunt founded the AFL, which merged with a rival league to form the modern NFL for the 1970 season. He also coined the phrase for the league’s annual championship game, the Super Bowl.
Generation after generation of Chiefs players have endeavored to deliver the Hunt family a Lamar Hunt trophy, which was named in his honor in 1984.
Kansas City came up short in its only previous AFC Championship Game appearance during the 1993 season, but history is once again with the club’s grasp — and everybody at 1 Arrowhead Drive knows it.
“That’d be great,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “When it has your name on it, that’s a pretty big thing. Lamar Hunt was special. I think it’s special for the National Football League and then obviously special if he’s your father. To have the opportunity to work with his kids, and Clark in particular, I understand the importance of that. Not that he has to tell me; he doesn’t have to say anything, and he hasn’t said anything.”
As exciting as it will be for Clark Hunt, the understated successor to his father’s NFL legacy, to bang the drum Sunday before the game. That thrill undoubtedly would pale in comparison to hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy after a win.
“I think it will mean a lot,” Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston said. “It means a lot just to make it to this point. I’ve never had this opportunity, so I think it will mean a lot to me, to them and to the city.”