Spring 2021 Magazine

Chiefs' Christ-following culture starts at the top with CEO/owner Clark Hunt

MIAMI — Only minutes had passed since the Kansas City Chiefs clinched their first berth in the Super Bowl in 50 years, and Chiefs CEO/owner Clark Hunt was brought up on stage to accept the AFC championship hardware. It’s called the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named after the founder of both the AFL and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Lamar was Clark’s father.

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The trophy has been named as such since 1984, but the victory marked the first time the Chiefs had earned it. The moment was not lost on Clark.

In the midst of confetti falling and euphoria flowing from the excitement of going to Super Bowl LIV, Clark gave thanks to his father — his Heavenly Father.

“I want to thank the Lord for blessing us with this opportunity,” Hunt said. “The glory belongs to Him. And this trophy belongs to the best fans in the National Football League!”

It wasn’t just an off-the-cuff remark. It was a statement to how Clark and the Hunt family live, and a glimpse into the kind of culture the Hunt family has established within the Kansas City organization.

It started with Lamar.

Marcellus Casey is the team’s chaplain, and his dad, Carey Casey, was a team chaplain years earlier. Marcellus will never forget the day he first met Lamar Hunt.

“I remember as a little kindergartner in the parking lot meeting Lamar Hunt and just how cordial and kind and loving he was with my father and I,” Marcellus said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “And you just see that legacy throughout the whole family with Clark and his wife Tavia, and all the Clark siblings. It’s really a family environment. It’s really a faith-filled environment at the stadium and with their family. So it makes it really easy as a chaplain to have a positive impact with the players and with the coaches.”

That environment is one of many reasons that punter Dustin Colquitt has stuck with the Chiefs for 15 years, the longest-tenured player on this year’s squad. He’s long been a believer in Christ and has developed into a spiritual leader on the team, though he says the culture starts with Clark Hunt.

“He sets the precedent, obviously,” Colquitt told Sports Spectrum this week. “He’s the leader here and he’s always been very receptive to having chaplains right in the mix of things. We do a prayer circle like I’m sure most NFL teams, [and teams] all around the world, do. But we have a special prayer circle. It’s fun getting guys together and just being there together, being silent and somebody praying over guys before we go out on the football field. It’s a special place to be.”

Offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski has played with four NFL teams in his nine-year career. The 2017-18 Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles were the best team he played for, and one with a strong Christian core. He sees something similar in Kansas City.

“There’s definitely a lot of Christians in the organization, and when it starts at the top, that’s pretty powerful, with the owner, and he kind of sets it from there,” Wisniewski told Sports Spectrum this week. “But there are definitely players following Jesus on the team too and it’s been fun to get to know some of those guys, and try to share with them and encourage them.

“At the end of the day, when the confetti’s falling, I just hope it’s Jesus that gets the glory.”

What starts with Hunt is carried out through veterans like Colquitt and Wisniewski and noticed by teammates — all of which makes Casey’s job “easy,” as the chaplain said.

“I think we do a great job in Kansas City,” Chiefs long snapper James Winchester told Sports Spectrum. “It starts with some of the leadership on our team, in Colquitt and [Anthony] Sherman and Wiz. And then giving props to our team chaplain, Marcellus Casey. He’s been a huge part of us leaning on our faith and staying together.”

Believers on the Chiefs typically get together every other Monday for Bible studies, with Casey being the driving factor. In the playoffs, the importance of prayer became the focus for the group.

“It’s hard to put a word that describes how important prayer is for us,” Winchester said this week. “It is a huge help to us in our daily walk. It’s huge to be able to bow your head and talk to the Heavenly Father. It is something I’m thankful we have, the gift that He’s given us.”

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