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Sundays with Sacco: The Chiefs, back in the day

Relive the Broncos' series history with the Chiefs with photographs dating to the teams' AFL roots in the 1960s.

The Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs have a great rivalry, both the teams and the fans, spurred in part by both geography and divisional play.

But many are not aware of the early history, back in the day, and of how critical Pro Football Hall of Fame Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt was to the existence of the Broncos.


In the late 1950s Hunt did everything he could to get an NFL team for his home town of Dallas, but he was rebuffed at every turn by the NFL, and especially by legendary Chicago Bears owner George Halas.

Getting more and more frustrated, Hunt threatened to begin his own league.

Meanwhile in Denver, Bears minor league baseball owner Bob Howsam had built the south stands of old Bears Stadium in hopes of joining the fledgling Continental Baseball League, a proposed rival to Major League Baseball.

But when MLB expanded to Houston, Los Angeles and New York (the Mets), the Continental League was dead before it started and Howsam was stuck with a white-elephant stadium.

No stars ever aligned better for the Mile High City.

The story is worthy of a book, so I am doing some serious condensing here, but Howsam asked into the new football league and Hunt said yes.

And so the Broncos were in pro football as members of the new American Football League.

Ironically, the Broncos are the only original members of the AFL Western Division who never moved, while Hunt had to abandon Dallas--concluding the city could not support the Cowboys and his Dallas Texans.

So in 1963, the Texans moved to Dallas and became the Chiefs.

They pretty much pounded the Broncos into oblivion in that entire first decade, but the Broncos grew and prospered and have become one of the cornerstone franchises of pro football over the last four decades.

As is appropriate, fans only focus on the here and now, this year's teams, players and division races.

But back in the day, before the first Bronco had his first drop of sweat, none of it would have happened without a wealthy Dallas resident who was as down home as one could get.

No one realizes this, but for all of his life, until his dying day, Lamar Hunt was listed in the Dallas telephone directory.

No unlisted number.

It was his vision that created the AFL and found room for a team in Denver, and that vision is at the root of the great Broncos-Chiefs rivalry that continues today.

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