and Cowboys fans in particular owe this remarkable gentle man a vote of gratitude.
Lamar Hunt wove himself into the fabric of sport in his home town in the '60s, when his American Football League entry, the Texans, battled for the hearts and minds, and nickels and dimes, of Dallas pro football fans. Even when he moved the Texans to Kansas City, he led the AFL in its battle with the NFL, which meant with Cowboys president Tex Schramm, over players, rules, and eventually helped forge the 1970 merger. Lamar Hunt pushed for and named the Super Bowl. For his adult life, Lamar Hunt was the personification of the term "sportsman."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a public demonstration of his respect and affection for Hunt in 2005, when he made a public presentation honoring the elder statesman before the Cowboys and Chiefs played at Texas Stadium. It was with good reason.
Jones has become one of the chief stewards of the 21st century NFL, with innovations in rules, marketing, merchandising and television. The design of the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington unveiled Tuesday night reflects where the game has gone and is going.
But it was Lamar Hunt who got it here. Not alone, of course, but when the NFL and AFL merged in '70, the details were hammered out in Dallas by two of the game's shrewdest, most competitive legends, Schramm and Hunt, sitting in a car. That's why Schramm and Hunt are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is no 21st century NFL without Lamar Hunt, period, and don't even start on soccer and tennis.
So if you are a Dallas Cowboys player or coach or administrator, go ahead and be a little queasy this week. Be very afraid that what we have seen for most of the last six or seven weeks has been a mirage. Be concerned that some things don't change, that Tom Landry was right, and that the most you can do is put a band-aid on what happened at Texas Stadium last Sunday, get into the playoffs and hope for the best. At least you'll know the rest of the league is pretty much just like you.
For everyone else, get a grip. Finish your shopping, and actually think a good thought about the person you're buying a gift for. Allow the season's spirit to infuse you and let the football game Saturday be a game.
And maybe we can all say a little prayer since God decided he needed Lamar Hunt before Christmas.