The sports world was stunned on Sunday, particularly the National Football League's Kansas City Chiefs organization and its legion of fans, upon learning of the death of a founding member of the franchise.
Norma Hunt, first lady to the legendary Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt, passed away of an unspecified cause at the age of 85, Breitbart reported.
The sad news was announced in a statement from the Hunt family released through the team and was met with condolences offered by star players as well as the current and former heads of the NFL, who considered Hunt to be a close personal friend.
"Our family is deeply saddened by the passing of our mother, Norma. She was a wonderful mother and an extraordinary woman who will be dearly missed by all who knew her," the Hunt family said in a statement. "Kind, generous and unfailingly positive, mom was one of a kind. Her joy and zeal for life were infectious. She loved caring for others, and she always had an encouraging word. She was a loyal friend, the consummate hostess and she had a rare ability to make everyone she encountered feel valued and at ease."
"Mom was steadfastly devoted to her family and fiercely passionate about her family's sports teams," the statement continued. "She was by our father Lamar's side every step of the way -- from the merger of the AFL and the NFL to the formation of Major League Soccer, World Championship Tennis, the North American Soccer League, and their founding investment in the Chicago Bulls. She was the only person we knew who rivaled his love of sports. The two of them found such joy together, whether at home, or in stadium stands around the world."
"This February, she attended her 57th and final Super Bowl and watched her beloved Chiefs hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the third time. It was a fitting conclusion to her streak as the only woman to attend every Super Bowl," the family added. "Her quiet yet deep faith sustained her throughout her life, and we take great comfort knowing that she is home with the Lord. She will be greatly missed by our family, the extended Chiefs and FC Dallas families, and by everyone who knew her."
The star quarterback of the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes, took to social media in reaction to the news and tweeted, along with the emojis for praying hands and a broken heart, "Mrs. Norma was the best. Glad to be a part of this special organization she help build. She will be missed! Prayers to the entire Hunt family."
According to the NFL, Norma Hunt was the wife of late Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and the mother of the organization's current owner and CEO, Clark Hunt, and served as the "matriarch" of the family and the multiple sports teams and leagues it held an interest in.
"The entire NFL family is deeply saddened by the passing of Norma Hunt, who was a significant presence in the NFL for the last seven decades," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "I was fortunate to know Norma for nearly 40 years and was always struck by her warmth and grace, her partnership with Lamar, and her pride in their family."
"Norma's sense of family extended to the Chiefs' organization which she greatly adored. Norma was one of the most passionate fans of the Chiefs and the NFL, and understood and enjoyed every aspect of the game," he continued. "She loved being around the team and referred to the players as 'real-life superheroes.' Norma attended every Super Bowl ever played, including the two recent Chiefs' victories, and was the only woman to do so."
Goodell added, "Norma's role in football was highlighted recently in the documentary appropriately entitled 'A Lifetime of Sundays.' Norma's place in NFL history will forever be remembered by the Chiefs' organization and the entire league."
Also weighing in on the death of Norma Hunt was former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who said that he and his wife, Chan, had been friends with Hunt for around six decades.
"She was a compassionate, loving friend who was devoted to her late husband Lamar, their family and her beloved Chiefs," Tagliabue said in a statement. "We enjoyed many quiet visits with Norma and Lamar over the years at NFL events and also in Kansas City."
"Norma was not only the Hunt family matriarch, but we also considered her the 'The Matriarch of the Super Bowl' since she was the only woman to have attended all 57 games. We extend our deepest sympathies to Clark and the entire Hunt family on their loss," he added.