One of Recluse's guiltiest pleasures is NFL football. Having grown up in a small town in West Virginia, I was initiated into the cultish world of football at a young age. For those of you who did not grow up in the American South or Midwest, especially before the twenty-first century, it is difficult to grasp what a big part of life football is in those regions of the country. Everything from the pee wee teams, on up through the high school and college ranks, and concluding with the NFL, is a cultural staple across any number of forgotten towns in the Fly-Over States.
In all honesty, I should have given up on the sport years ago, probably around the time I realized it was completely under the dominion of the Syndicate. But old habits die hard, and this most recent Super Bowl was especially curious to me. As a young lad growing up in the 1980s, I idolized Joe Montana. As such, I rooted for the 49ers, or at least until Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. From there, my allegiance shifted to KC and it remained there even after Montana retired following the '94 season.
It probably goes without saying, but I was intrigued by seeing my two favorite childhood teams squaring off against one another in what some have dubbed the "Montana Bowl." And having followed KC for several decades, there was a part of me rejoicing that the team had made it back to its first Super Bowl in 50 years. Certainly I've experienced some heartbreaking playoff loses with this franchise over the years, to put it mildly.
|Joe Montana, in both incarnations|
It all began with family patriarch H.L. Hunt, whose extended family would serve as the basis for the long running TV series Dallas. Old Man Hunt was a self-professed "professional gambler" who used his winnings from poker to first break into the oil industry during the 1920s. By the 1940s, his now-extensive oil holdings had made him one of the richest men in both the nation and the world.
During the Cold War, Old Man Hunt became a radical anti-Communist. In his classic The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russel would refer to H.L. and his far right Life Line media outlet as one of the two "leading media propagandists" (pg. 191) in the budding anti-Communist crusade. Life Line broadcasts were carried over four hundred radio stations across forty-two states by the early 1960s. It helped lay the stage for the Rush Limbaugh-derived talk radio culture that began to emerge during the 1980s. For this reason, Russell singled out Hunt as a leading figure in the rise of the Cold War-era far right and he is hardly alone in this assessment. Even before modern-era Democratic bugaboos like the Koch family entered the arena, the Hunt family was hard at work subsidizing the far right.
"Jonathan May attempted to free us from the shackles of the Federal Reserve by creating an alternative banking system with instruments backed by land, raw materials, mineral deposits, oil, coal, timber, and other wilderness holdings. Jonathan aided Governor Connolly and the Hunt brothers in their effort to corner the silver market. The silver would have been used to create a 'Bank of Texas' issue of 'real' money. This would have destroyed the Federal Reserve had the Hunts been successful. When the world bankers realized what was happening, they destroyed Connolly, the Hunt brothers, Jonathan May, and Texas."
(Behold a Pale Horse, pg. 333)
|the legendary (and infamous) William Milton Cooper|
"The CNP was founded in 1981 when Tim LaHaye, a leader of Moral Majority, proposed the idea to wealthy Texan T. Cullen Davis. Davis contacted billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, and from that point on they began recruiting members. By 1984, the Council had four hundred members."
(The Coors Connection, Russ Bellant, pgs. 36-37)In the years since Bunker helped set up the CNP, it has become a powerhouse among the right, functioning as something akin to their own Council on Foreign Relations:
"...the secretive Council for National Policy, described by the New York Times as a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country [which has] met behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference' three times a year 'to strategize about how to turn the country to the right.' The Council was started in 1981 by Rev. Tim LaHaye, one of the founders of the modern right-wing Christian movement in the United States and author of the apocalyptic Left Behind novels. The idea was to build a Christian conservative alternative to the Council on Foreign Relations, which LaHaye considered too liberal. CNP membership is kept secret, members are instructed that 'The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before after a meeting.'..."
(Backwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 80)the CNP has gained unprecedented power. But the CNP is hardly the extent of Bunker Hunt's legacy of right wing activism. For years, he was also a leading figure in the John Birch Society (JBS), eventually joining the outfit's national council. Much of Alex Jones' ideology has been adopted wholesale from the JBS, sans a few tweaks.
Its not just the exclusive and fringe right that the Hunt family has guided, however. During the Bush II years, they gained considerable influence over the presidency itself. Ray Lee Hunt, H.L.'s youngest son, was a board member of Halliburton and a longtime friend of the Bush family. Bush the Lesser made Ray a member of the power President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and conspired to get him a sweetheart deal for Kurdistan's oil, while undermining the Iraqi government in the process. Ray returned the favor by providing Southern Methodist University (which Ray, W., and numerous members of both the Hunt and Bush families have attended) with a cool $35 million to procure land for Bush II's presidential library. Presently Ray Lee is a member of board of trustees of the uber spooked-up Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), another right wing think tank that has gained considerable influence during the Trump years.
|Ray Lee Hunt|
Indeed, Lamar Hunt appears to have gone to great lengths to publicly avoid the political extremism of several of his brothers. His bios are generally squeaky clean, focusing exclusively on his relation to the sport's world. There is good reason for this, as many football fans would probably not want to read antidotes such as this:
"More alarming was the Warren Commission's finding that on the day before the assassination, Jack Ruby had driven a young woman over to the Hunt offices for a job interview. After Ruby shot Oswald, Dallas police found two scripts from H. L. Hunt's Life Line radio program among his possessions. The FBI also reported that the telephone number of another son, Lamar, appeared in a book which was the property of Jack Ruby. Questioned about this on December 17, 1963, Lamar replied 'that he could not think of any reason why his name would appear in Jack Ruby's personal property and that he had no contact whatsoever with Ruby to the best of his knowledge.' "
(The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell, pgs. 587-588)
Lamar shed his mortal coil in 2006, paving the way for son Clark Hunt to take control of the franchise. So far, Clark has done a better job of covering potential ties to organized crime, but the Chiefs franchise has endured its share of controversy in the nearly 15 years since he took over for his father. Most notably, this has been a persistent trend of domestic violence among KC's players. The most notorious incident of this by far was the tragic murder/suicide involving former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher in 2012. As I noted before at the time of Belcher's breakdown, there were rumblings that the high tension atmosphere Clark Hunt had brought to KC upon his father's death may have contributed to the tragedy. Bizarrely, current-Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also lost his son to suicide the year before signing on with Kansas City.
Regardless, the legacy of organized crime should always linger over the Hunt family, especially Lamar's wing. But Lamar Hunt's Syndicate ties were hardly an exception among early NFL owners. Fellow Texan and then-Dallas Cowboys owner Clint Murchison Jr. traveled in many of the same mobbed-up circles in Dallas, for instance. All of this paints a rather unsavory picture, namely that America's Sport is also the Mob's Sport. Indeed, when all is said and done, the modern NFL is as much the Syndicate's legacy as anyone's.
But in the era of Trump, perhaps the same could be said of American politics and even society on the whole. It is a sad situation all around dear reader, and on that note I shall wrap things up for now. Until next time, stay tuned.