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How Lamar Hunt Found Hank Stram

Hank Stram was the first coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. He led them to victory in Super Bowl 4.

Lamar Hunt founded the Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs started in Dallas as the Dallas Texans. The franchise was one of the original AFL teams. Owner/founder Lamar Hunt hired Hank Stram as the team’s head coach. He didn’t hire Stram out of the blue, however.

Lamar Hunt attended college at SMU

Lamar Hunt went to college at SMU and actually was on the football team. He might have played more, but he was behind the great Raymond Berry on the depth chart. Forrest Gregg, another Hall of Famer, was also on that team. (Raymond Berry talks about Lamar Hunt at SMU here.)

Hank Stram was a Coach at SMU

Hunt’s days at SMU also put Stram on Lamar Hunt’s coaching radar.  Hank Stram served as an assistant football coach at SMU in 1956. That connection eventually led to Hunt hiring Stram to coach the Dallas Texans (now known as the Kansas City Chiefs).

There are several connections between Hunt’s alma mater, SMU, which is located in Dallas, and his forming of the team now known as the Kansas City Chiefs. The team’s first athletic trainer was also someone that Hunt knew from SMU.

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PHOTO: Lamar Hunt

The Southwest Conference

Another thing to note is that SMU played football in the Southwest Conference. Players from Southwest Conference schools made up a good portion of the team’s original roster.

The Southwest Conference was one of the most powerful NCAA football conferences for many decades. Schools included Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, and TCU. Many NFL stars attended Southwest Conference schools and the conference hosted several Heisman Trophy winners and national champions.

One of the players from the Southwest Conference who played for Hank Stram and Lamar Hunt was Cotton Davidson from Baylor. Cotton Davidson was the Dallas Texans original starting quarterback.

Cotton was a former first round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts who also ended up being drafted into the U.S. Army. Those of you who have read the football history book, The Game Before the Money, also know that while Cotton Davidson served in the military he missed two seasons with the Colts. The Colts signed a kid named Johnny Unitas to play quarterback in his absence.

Cotton didn’t have a starting job when he returned to the Colts, but he did get a chance with Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans. He was the Texans quarterback in 1960 and 1961.

Cotton Davidson did a fine job in both seasons. He led the Texans to a winning record in 1960 and was named to the AFL All Star game in 1961. The Dallas Texans traded Davidson to the Raiders after the 1961 season, however.

Hear more about that trade and more about how Lamar Hunt and Hank Stram built the Kansas City Chiefs on The Game Before the Money Podcast!


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PHOTO: Hank Stram

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