KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Lamar Hunt was fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital Tuesday, and friends and family of the 74-year-old pioneer of the modern NFL were hoping for "miracles."
Hunt has battled cancer for several years and was hospitalized the day before Thanksgiving with a partially collapsed lung. Doctors discovered that the cancer has since spread, and Hunt has been under heavy sedation since last week.
"They're trying to make him as comfortable as possible," said Carl Peterson, president and general manager of Hunt's Kansas City Chiefs. "He's battling a very courageous fight. We'll continue to hope that miracles will happen."
The son of Texas oilman H.L. Hunt tried unsuccessfully to buy an NFL team in the late 1950s, and when continually rebuffed, he persuaded several other wealthy sportsmen to form the American Football League to compete with the NFL.
His Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City in 1963 and became the Chiefs. Several years later, the NFL was forced to merge with Hunt's successful AFL, and the modern league was born.
Long an eloquent spokesman for the league and for small-market teams such as Kansas City, Hunt in 1972 became the first AFL figure inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The AFC championship trophy is named after him and, coincidentally, it was Hunt who gave the Super Bowl its name.
He and his family also have been active in professional soccer, and he's a minority owner of the NBA's Chicago Bulls.
Clark Hunt, one of his four children, has been gradually assuming his father's oversight of the family's sports interests.
"I was with Clark Hunt yesterday, and of course I speak with the family every day," Peterson said. "There's not any improvement."
Hunt and other early day owners who put the health of the league above the best interests of their individual clubs have been credited with helping the NFL avoid the big market-small market disparity that has plagued major league baseball.
Peterson said he visited Hunt's hospital bed last week.
"He's giving it everything he can," Peterson said. "The doctors are also. We hope and pray for good results.
"All the family is there. Everybody's there," Peterson added. "It's extremely hard for everybody. And on a personal note, certainly I've been with this guy a long time and have the utmost respect and love for him. I've known him since 1976 when I came into the league, and I know what he's contributed to the National Football League, to Kansas City, to this community.
"It's a difficult time for everybody."