KANSAS CITY — One of the first things Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did when he awoke Wednesday was to take a good look at the little wooden trophy topped by an odd street sign sitting among the many awards and memorabilia in his Dallas-area home.
It's called the "Preston Road Trophy," dreamed up by his longtime friend and the late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, and named after the street on which they once lived just 300 yards apart.
Ever since 1998, the trophy has been presented to the winning side on the rare occasions that Dallas plays Kansas City — as is the case Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Jones has had the trophy since 2005, but the Hunt family had it the seven years prior to that.
And Lamar made sure to tweak Jones with it, too.
"I was visiting with him and I said, 'You know, it's been so long since I've seen it. I wonder if I could come by and get it and kind of show it to some folks that I'm going to have over at my house," Jones told The Associated Press. "And he said, 'You know, I'd be a little uneasy with that.' He said, 'I'll set it up in the window. ... You can drive by and look at it.'"
It was all in good fun, though — the plaque on the front of the trophy even reads "Created in friendship." And Jones always was happy to return the barbs anyway.
One time, he recalled the Hunts being honored at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys had won back the trophy, and Hunt asked if he could borrow it to show off at a dinner.
"I said, 'Well, I don't know that I'm that comfortable with you — but his wife, Norma, I said, 'I have a little trust in Norma, so I'm going to draw up an agreement, and as long as Norma will have it back by midnight, have her sign it,'" Jones said. "I prepared this elaborate legal agreement, and they could pick it up earlier in the day and have it back by midnight."
Jones laughed as he finished the story, enjoying the fond memory of his friend.
The curious rivalry between the Cowboys and Chiefs didn't start with Jones and Hunt but rather with the formation of the Texans during the heady days of the NFL and AFL.
The Texans and Cowboys both played at the Cotton Bowl in the early 1960s, and Hunt once referred to their games as "a holy war" as they competed for the city's sports fans. The Texans slowly became more popular as they began to win, but they eventually moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs. Since 1970, the teams have only played nine times.
"Now most of our rivals are in the AFC, especially in the AFC West," said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who took over the franchise when his father, Lamar, died in 2006.
"If we have an NFC rival," Hunt added quickly, "it would be the Cowboys."
The younger Hunt is just as passionate about winning back the Preston Road Trophy, too, even making sure Chiefs coach Andy Reid was aware of it after a season-opening win over Jacksonville.
"It's the smallest and ugliest trophy in sports," Hunt told the AP, laughing. "Andy knows its importance. Coming from Philadelphia, he's used to a rivalry with the Cowboys."
Indeed, Reid is well aware of the significance attached to the odd little trophy.
"Clark's very competitive. It doesn't matter who we're playing," he said, "but I'm sure there's probably that little extra bit. I think he and Jerry are very close, so they probably get up and needle each other when they have an opportunity to play."
Just like Jerry and Lamar did back in the day.
"We had a lot of fun," Jones said, launching into a story that begins with his wife, Gene, and Lamar Hunt serving together on the Southern Methodist University board of trustees. The Cowboys had just won the trophy, and Lamar decided that a board meeting was the right time to turn it over.
"So he explained the trophy to the other members of the board and presented it because we had won it," Jones said with a smile. "He presented it to me there at that board meeting."
Jones compared the trophy to a birdhouse in the way it looks — rarely has it been seen in public. And it won't accompany the Cowboys to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, either. Jones prefers to turn it over to the Hunt family privately should the Cowboys lose.
"I don't think either one of us will be in the mood," Jones said of a grand presentation. "I wouldn't ask him to present the trophy again to me right after the game, and I wouldn't be in the mood to present to him if the circumstances are reversed."