The Super Ball

Lamar Hunt, right, and then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle created the Super Bowl thanks to a tiny "super ball."

It was impossible not to like Lamar Hunt. At age 28 he took on the established National Football League with a new venture founded by a bunch of businessmen he self-mockingly called "The Foolish Club." He eventually brokered the AFL-NFL merger with Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, in a meeting that took place under the Texas Ranger statue in the lobby of Love Field Airport. He loved football but was no better than a third-string tight end at SMU. And for a billionaire whose family once conspired to corner the world's silver market, he somehow remained modest -- the last car he drove was a Ford Escort.

But of all of Hunt's tentacles, the strongest, most eternal might be the fact that he coined the name of professional football's ultimate game: The Super Bowl. Looking in the late 1960s for a way to market what was then called the "AFL-NFL Championship Game," commissioner Pete Rozelle petitioned for the title game to be called "The Big One." Can you imagine?

Thankfully, Hunt's daughter, Sharron, was given a bouncy red, white and blue "Super Ball" as a Christmas gift in 1968. "When she'd ask to play with it in her cute Texas drawl," Hunt once said, "it sounded like super bowl." That name has sorta stuck. And that ball is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just down the hall from Lamar. --Richie Whitt

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky