ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – The Kansas City Chiefs weren’t always in the spotlight. In fact, they sprouted from humble beginnings. Businessman Lamar Hunt started the AFL franchise, originally known as the Dallas Texans, back in 1960.
In a surprising move, Hunt decided to hold the team’s very first training camp nearly 500 miles away, at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.
Michael MacCambridge, author of Lamar Hunt: A Life in Sports, says the players he spoke to described the experience as brutal and recalled their journeys to the Dairy Queen just a couple of hundred feet away from campus.
“That’s where they ate most of their meals because the food at the Dairy Queen was much better than what was being served in the local commissary,” MacCambridge said. Roswell’s wicked heat even broke down racial barriers on the team.
“It was insane, irrational, and ignorant fears [that] were cast aside,” said MacCambridge. Offensive Lineman Marvin Terrell dealt with his own biases after spotting a tub of ice surrounded by his black teammates. “He finally says ‘Damn it, I’m thirsty. Just let me go in and get some water,” adds MacCambridge.
The question remains; why were the Texans practicing in Roswell? “It’s a great question and it remains somewhat of a mystery,” MacCambridge explains. Some have wondered if the Dallas Texans were trying to lure future Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, who played for NMMI that same year.
But MacCambridge says it was highly unlikely since Staubach wasn’t considered a top prospect at the time. However, Hunt, who passed away in 2006, once admitted he didn’t know exactly why Roswell was chosen, but said, “I’m sure there were economic reasons.”
And even though we may never know the true answer, MacCambridge says, “That’s the best part about sports, is it makes people feel connected.” New Mexicans will always be able to say our state had at least a small part in football history.