Who Were Lamar Hunt and George Halas, and Why Are Trophies Named for Them?

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In the world of professional football, the Lombardi Trophy is the biggest prize. It may seem like a big piece of metal, but it has the power to make or break careers. Those who haven’t claimed it dream of making it to the top of the mountain; those who have won the title strive to repeat the feat. But before you reach the Super Bowl, there’s another piece of silverware to claim first.

Each year, the NFC champions lift the George Halas Trophy on the field. The AFC champs, in a similar ceremony, claim the Lamar Hunt Trophy. And while it’s easy to overlook those honors—no one gets too excited about finishing in second place—they honor two giants in football history.

Let’s get to know them a bit better.

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 29, 2023, in Kansas…


Michael Owens/Getty Images

Who Was George Halas?

While things haven’t been great in recent years, the Chicago Bears are one of the NFL’s blue-blooded franchises. And the club owes a great deal of its history to Halas.

As laid out in his Pro Football Hall of Fame profile, “Halas was associated with the Chicago Bears and the National Football League from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983. He represented the Bears, originally known as the Decatur Staleys, at the NFL’s organizational meeting in Canton, Ohio.”

The Chicago native served the club as an owner, player and coach over the years, finding success in every post. He earned eight championship rings; the first came in 1921, and the last arrived in 1963. Halas also claimed two Coach of the Year nods during the 1960s, and he left the sidelines with a 318-148-31 record across four different spells.

But his impact went beyond wins and losses. Halas pioneered things that modern football would be unimaginable without, like daily practices, film study and radio broadcasts.

And given the impact came with the Chicago Bears, who landed in the NFC after the NFL-AFL merger, it’s fitting that Halas’ namesake award goes to the conference’s top team.

“The man who gave this league an identity when it needed it most….His own. That’s why his name is etched on the NFC Championship trophy,” an NFL 100 video explained after detailing some of Halas’ accomplishments. “A reminder of the NFL’s past for those building its future.”

Who Was Lamar Hunt?

Lamar Hunt’s story is a bit different. He entered the scene later, and he didn’t play professional ball. Those details, however, didn’t stop him from making an impact.

After Hunt’s attempts to buy an NFL franchise were rebuffed, he decided that there had to be another way. He and seven other owners formed what they dubbed “The Foolish Club” and decided to start their own league: the American Football League (the AFL).

“The new league was the subject of many a joke in the early days of its existence but its eventual David-and-Goliath-like success in its costly survival battle with the established NFL did more to permanently change the pro football scene than any other event in a half-century of organized pro football activity,” Hunt’s Pro Football Hall of Fame profile explains.

His AFL franchise, the Dallas Texans, eventually moved north and became the Kansas City Chiefs. They, along with the rest of the league, would prove they were capable of hanging with the NFL before the league merged. The K.C. owner played a major role in those talks, helping to create the league we know today. He’s also responsible for the term “Super Bowl.”

Given that the AFL largely morphed into the AFC after the merger, Hunt’s name adorns the trophy honoring the conference champion. And, recently, his Chiefs have made a habit of claiming that piece of silverware.

When you’re watching sports, it’s easy to get hung up on here and now: the scoreline, the stakes of the game and the players on the field. As modern fans, though, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants.

And in the NFL, three of the biggest are Halas, Hunt and Vince Lombardi.