FC Dallas honors Lamar Hunt with scarf

Dirk Nowitzki is one of the many North Texas stars to have put the scarf on the Lamar Hunt statue. Jerome Miron/US Presswire

In 2010, FC Dallas erected a statue of Lamar Hunt -- the late former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, the man who made famous the term "Super Bowl" and the American soccer pioneer who ran Major League Soccer's North Texas club, among others.

Said Norma Hunt, Lamar's wife: "[Artist Bruce Wolfe] got it dead right, we feel. It's just a wonderful representation of Lamar."

But the club wasn't finished. In an aim to create traditions at the soccer-specific FC Dallas Stadium, the staff had an idea: Put a scarf on the statue before every home MLS game, and bring in an important figure to do the honors each time.

Important like Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, pictured above and seen in action below. Or U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Or Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. And of course, members of Hunt's family.

Yeah, you can bet Norma Hunt enjoys this tradition.

"It's just been so much fun for all of us to see how much fun the scarfing is," she said by phone Monday. "There are always good crowds, and [the scarfing ceremony] just adds a real special note to the beginning of all of FCD's games."

Yes, there's more behind it than simply wrapping cloth around bronze.

It's especially special, Norma noted, for the fans, who get to see the scarfing at the end of a larger pregame festivity called Lamar's Tailgate. It also celebrates a man who, when inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972, said at his speech: "I accept this honor on behalf of all the fans in America."

"Fans were very, very important and beloved by Lamar," Norma said. "He was someone who just was constantly trying to make any sport he was involved in better and more interesting for the fans."

But perhaps the most important driving factor behind the tradition is Hunt's aforementioned love of soccer.

An enthusiast since the 1960s, Hunt founded the Dallas Tornado in 1967 and quickly merged the club into the North American Soccer League -- the same one that featured Pele and the New York Cosmos.

Even when that league folded, Hunt would not be deterred; he started the Columbus Crew, then later owned the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) and FC Dallas. He also helped build the first soccer-specific MLS stadium, in Columbus, starting a trend that has helped MLS thrive of late.

Maybe that's why America's yearly all-pro club tournament is called the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and was named as such well before his death in 2006.

And it's almost certainly why the Dallas scarfing is such a hit.

"Because of what Lamar has done in this country and especially what he's done for soccer in this country and in North Texas, everybody's always referred to him as Uncle Lamar," said Kelly Weller, vice president of marketing, communications and strategic planning at FC Dallas. "He's a big part of our history -- the biggest part of our history.

"So ... it [is] a way for us to honor Lamar for everything he's done."

Said Norma Hunt: "We've been at it a long time, and I'm so glad at last to see soccer have the very nice success that it's had in the United States. ... We've come a very, very long way."