Named after the founder of the American Football League and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Lamar Hunt Trophy has been awarded to the winner of each AFC Championship Game since 1984. That means that plenty of teams have won it over the years, leaving us with many examples of top NFL talent to go through.
Today we’re looking at the five most historic winners of the Lamar Hunt Trophy, judging the teams on their in-game performance and the legacy they left behind. These teams are some of the best of the best and they’re still in play today, so keep that in mind when you’re checking out the next NFL odds to win division.
- The Los Angeles Raiders, 1983 Season
What’s more historic than the first team to ever win the Lamar Hunt Trophy? To commemorate the founder of the AFL, the Lamar Hunt Trophy was first introduced to those who won the AFC Championship Game in 1984. Ever since then, it has been awarded to those who top the AFC and face the NFC champions at the Super Bowl.
On January 8th, 1984, the Los Angeles Raiders had qualified against the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Al Davis had only just moved the team to LA from Oakland after a few legal hiccups, so it wasn’t exactly home turf.
Regardless, the team beat the Seahawks 30-14 and advanced to Super Bowl XVIII. This won them the first-ever Lamar Hunt Trophy and set them on a crash course against the Washington Redskins. With the momentum of their AFC championship victory, the Raiders beat the Redskins on January 22nd, 1984, with a crazy 38-9 score.
- The Denver Broncos, 1986 Season
A few short years after the Los Angeles Raiders secured the first-ever Lamar Hunt Trophy, the Denver Broncos would face against the Cleveland Browns in an AFC Championship Game that would forever become a part of NFL lore. Tell us, have you ever heard of “The Drive?”
It was January 11th, 1987, and the Broncos were playing in foreign territory. At the Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the Browns were ahead with 20-13 and there were just five minutes left on the clock. It’s a tale as old as time – the Broncos needed a spectacular play to win and they did just that.
Broncos quarterback John Elway then leads the team into a brutal drive, 15 plays across those five minutes that carried them 98 yards. It was almost the entirety of the field. When they hit the other end, Elway passes to wide receiver Mark Jackson who completed The Drive and pulled the game into overtime. Barefoot placekicker Rich Karlis made the field goal, bringing the score to 23-20 and snatching the Lamar Hunt Trophy from the Cleveland Browns.
- The Buffalo Bills, 1990 Season
Our next historic Lamar Hunt Trophy winners are the team who has the record for the highest score during an AFC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills. What’s more, they were playing against the Los Angeles Raiders at the time.
It was January 20th, 1991, and the AFC championship was ending at the Rich Stadium, which you probably know better as the Ralph Wilson Stadium, New Era Stadium, or simply the Bills Stadium. Having played there last week for a 44-34 victory over the Miami Dolphins, the Bills entered the championship game with a lot of momentum.
What happened next is nothing short of embarrassing for the Los Angeles Raiders team of 1991. Not only did the Buffalo Bills attain the highest AFC championship score to date; it wasn’t even close. When the Lamar Hunt Trophy was safely in the Bills’ grasp, they had beat the Raiders 51-3.
- The New England Patriots, 2018 Season
Our last instance of historic Lamar Hunt Trophy winners was only a few years ago. So why is it historic? Because it was just the latest in a long legacy of bringing the Lamar Hunt Trophy home, one that spans 20 whole years.
Star quarterback Tom Brady needs no introduction, he’s already one of the most popular and accomplished players in the sport, whose name is even recognized by those who have never watched an NFL game before. With Brady leading the charge, the Patriots have won the AFC Championship Game nine times, in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, and then 2018. That’s more than any other team.
The Patriots won the Lamar Hunt Trophy for the third consecutive time in the 2018 season where, on January 20th, 2019, the Patriots scored 37-31 over the Kansas City Chiefs in an overtime victory. They’d go on to win Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at 13-3.
The Chiefs, with star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, were hungry for the victory since Lamar Hunt founded the Chiefs and had never won his own Trophy while he was alive. Fortunately, this was about to change…
- The Kansas City Chiefs, 2019 Season
Once again, this victory is historic because of everything that came before it. We’ve established the Lamar Hunt Trophy was first awarded in 1984 and that it was named after the man who founded the AFL and owned the Kansas City Chiefs. Since then, and until 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs had never won the Lamar Hunt Trophy. Lamar stayed with the Chiefs as their owner and manager until his death in 2006.
After just missing out to the Patriots last year, as we’ve covered above, the Chiefs finally brought the Lamar Hunt Trophy home in 2019. It came down to a showdown between the Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans on January 19th, 2019, which they won for 35-24, and then they’d go on to win Super Bowl LIV too.
Lamar’s son and current Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was reunited with his father’s legacy, as was Lamar’s wife Norma. It was a moment so sentimental to star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs, and the Hunts that they even did it again in the 2020 season.