Teams play on with heavy hearts

Coach Marty Schottenheimer knew Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt as well as anyone among the Chargers. That's why his words were measured Friday, and why they came with plenty of feeling.

"The National Football League, as we know it today in my opinion, is directly a product of the influence of Lamar Hunt," said Schottenheimer.

Hunt passed away on Wednesday, and his team, the Kansas City Chiefs, will be looking to end the Chargers' seven-game winning streak on Sunday.

Schottenheimer was Hunt's coach in K.C. from 1989-98, a span in which he won 101 regular-season games. Hunt was a steady force in helping Schottenheimer build that then-dominating Chiefs team.

"The thing that all of us who had the privilege of being around Lamar is he never, ever changed," Schottenheimer said. "He was always, 'what can I do to help?"'

Schottenheimer knows the Chiefs will be fired up even more than usual, playing with a heavy heart that comes with the loss of Hunt.

Some Chargers were pointing to what the Giants did last year in the days following the death of owner Wellington Mara. The Giants played the best game of the year in shutting out the Redskins.

"I'm sure they will try to win it for Lamar," linebacker Donnie Edwards, a former Chief, said of Kansas City's mind-set. "I think they will be motivated for him."


Everybody has a Lamar Hunt story.

On the day after the Chiefs owner died after an eight-year battle with prostate cancer, everybody on the Chiefs had something. Receiver Eddie Kennison remembered the notes in his locker. Linebacker Derrick Johnson remembered the day he met Hunt his rookie season, when the owner knew everything about him. Trent Green recalled the way, win or lose, Hunt would enter the locker room with encouraging words of some kind.

"For a man with that much wealth, ability, he could do anything with his life," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "He chose to be a part of the National Football League. With that choice, he opened a lot of doors for a lot of people."

It was a day of mourning and reflection in Kansas City, but also a day of preparation. The Chiefs play the 11-2 Chargers on Sunday.

"Lamar wouldn't have it any other way," Edwards said. "As a man, he was a great sportsman. It was always about your next game and what it took to compete."

Still, it was an opportunity for the Chiefs to remind some of their players, particularly the younger ones, that playing for Hunt, the man whose name is on the AFC trophy, was a little bit different.

"You see, some of these young guys don't really know what he was all about and what he's done for this team and for the National Football League," Edwards said. "Carl (Peterson, general manager) did a good job of explaining it to the players. I think a lot of young guys needed to hear that. It's not just about playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. This man has done a lot, not just for Kansas City but for the league period. That's going to be his legacy."

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