When the Kansas City Chiefs take the field for Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, they’ll do so as the first team to wear the Super Bowl patch on the right side of their jerseys since the Baltimore Ravens in February 2013. After team owner Art Modell died in September 2012, the Ravens wore patches with “Art” written in white inside a black circle for the remainder of the season, which culminated in a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Kansas City’s jerseys have featured a memorial patch on the upper-left chest in honor of late owner Lamar Hunt since 2007. Hunt, who died in late 2006, was a co-founder of the American Football League, which began play in 1960, and he moved his Dallas Texans franchise to Kansas City in 1963. The Chiefs’ website explains the significance of the memorial patch, which was commissioned by Hunt’s son, Clark, the team’s current owner, and features the AFL logo — a red eagle atop a football behind a blue and white "A":
The patch prominently features the American Football League logo to serve as a reminder of Hunt’s formation of the AFL and the lasting impact the American Football League has made on the game of professional football. True to Hunt’s humble spirit, the letters “LH” are subtly displayed on the patch, symbolizing the fact that the Chiefs Founder always put the best interests of the league ahead of his own. The patch is affixed on the left chest of both Kansas City’s home and away jerseys, meaning this piece of woven symbolism will always be over the heart of every Chiefs player.Chiefs.com
As Uni Watch editor Paul Lukas notes, the front of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl jerseys will look quite crowded, especially for the team’s captains, whose "C" patches will be worn between their Super Bowl logo patches and shoulder numbers. None of the four previous teams who wore Super Bowl patches on the right side of their jerseys wore "C" patches.
The Chiefs are making their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1969 season, which concluded with Super Bowl IV, pro football’s final game between the champions of the NFL and AFL before the merger of the leagues. (Lamar Hunt is credited with coining the name “Super Bowl" while watching his children play with a hyper-bouncy Super Ball. The event was previously called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.)
During their 23-7 upset of the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, Chiefs players wore a patch commemorating 10 years of the AFL on their left shoulders. The idea for the patch was sparked by AFL fan Ange Coniglio, who petitioned the league’s owners to have teams wear the patch during the AFL’s final season. Coniglio figured the AFL should be every bit as proud of its history as the more established and more highly regarded NFL. During the 1969 season, every NFL player wore a special patch on his jersey celebrating the league’s 50th year.
“The AFL owners generally either ignored or declined this suggestion," Coniglio recalled on RememberTheAFL.com, his website dedicated to the history of the league. "In Lamar Hunt’s words, they felt that a patch would make the uniforms ‘too busy.’ ”
But AFL President Milt Woodard and Chiefs Coach Hank Stram supported the idea. While AFL teams didn’t wear the patches during the regular season, Woodard decided that a 10-year patch would be worn by the AFL’s representative in the Super Bowl in January 1970.
“It lit us up,” Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier said of the patch years later, according to Coniglio, who added that Stram used the patch as a motivating factor. “We knew what it meant.”