Sports Law Blog
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Thursday, December 14, 2006
Lamar Hunt: A Sports Law Memorial
With the passing of Lamar Hunt, it seems appropriate to reflect upon some of the great cases and moments in sports law in which he was involved. Some of the more memorable published opinions:
American Football League v. National Football League, 205 F.Supp. 60 (D.Md. 1962), aff'd 323 F.2d 124 (3rd Cir. 1963)
Hunt was the owner of the AFL Dallas Texans; the AFL sued the NFL, claiming "monopolization, attempted monopolization and conspiracy to monopolize major league professional football." According to the court,
Among others who applied for NFL franchises in 1957 and 1958 w[as] Lamar Hunt, of Dallas, . . . [The NFL] suggested [Hunt] try to purchase the Chicago Cardinals and transfer that franchise. [Hunt] conducted unsuccessful negotiations with the [Chicago team's owners]. . . .Hunt, having been rebuffed in his efforts to purchase the Cardinals or obtain a new NFL franchise, began secretly to plan and organize a new league. He was then 27 years old, without experience in professional sports. He surveyed various cities and made tenative overtures to individuals who seemed likely prospects for becoming owners of franchises.North American Soccer League v. National Football League, 465 F.Supp. 665 (S.D.N.Y. 1979)
The NASL sued the NFL over the NFL's "cross-ownership ban," which prohibited NFL owners from owning other sports franchises. According to the court,
An important element of stability for the NASL has been furnished by individuals or families who own member soccer clubs, and also own NFL football clubs. Perhaps the foremost among these "cross-owners" is Lamar Hunt of Dallas, Texas, a sporting world legend in his own time. Hunt, as owner of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, was in the early 1960's one of the founders of the American Football League, subsequently merged with the NFL. Hunt is now chairman and sole owner of the NFL Kansas City franchise. Hunt also is a part owner of the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association, and the founder of the World Championship Tennis circuit. In 1967 Hunt purchased a Dallas soccer franchise which, in 1968, became the NASL's Dallas club, called the Dallas Tornado. [An] affidavit pays eloquent and, in my judgment convincing, tribute to the past and continuing importance to the struggling NASL of Hunt's presence and participation. . . .North American Soccer League v. National Football League, 505 F.Supp. 659 (S.D.N.Y. 1980), rev'd 670 F.2d 1249 (2nd Cir. 1982)
The court wrote,
We must visualize individual sports team investors such as Lamar Hunt (NASL Dallas Tornado and NFL Kansas City Chiefs), . . . as the economic equivalents of cellophane, finishes and fabrics, shoes, or protective systems.