Hotel magnate Barron Hilton, an original owner of the American Football League, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced Friday.
Hilton died Thursday of natural causes at the age of 91, the family-run Conrad Hilton Foundation said in a press release.
After serving in the Navy and pursuing other business opportunities, Hilton joined the family business in 1954, becoming chairman, president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp.
In the late 1950s, he was sought out by American Football League pioneers Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams to own a franchise, and Hilton founded the Los Angeles Chargers in 1959. The team relocated to San Diego after a season and appeared in five of the first six AFL title matches, and won one.  Hilton sold controlling interest in Chargers to Gene Klein in 1966 for $ 10 million.
The NFL paid tribute to Hilton on Friday.
"Simply put, the modern NFL wouldn't be what it is today without the visa ion of Barron Hilton," said Dean Spanos, who now owns the Chargers franchise. Barron was a founding father and charter member of the rising AFL's sarcastic self-called & # 39; Foolish Club & # 39; a pioneering leader, risk-taking entrepreneur, productive philanthropist, devoted family man, and of course, anything but foolish. seems appropriate that we celebrate an extraordinarily good life the same year we know the Chargers 60th Anniversary Season, since without Barron, there would be no chargers. "
The rival Oakland Raiders also remembered Hilton in a team statement. " Hilton was instrumental in creating the American Football League and Chargers, and he also played a major role in Raiders history. His coaching staff from Sid Gillman, Al Davis, Chuck Noll, Joe Madro and Jack Faulkner are among the most legendary staffs ever assembled, and he gave Al Davis his first opportunity to train at a professional level. The NFL would not be what it is today without his leadership and the Raiders are saddened by his loss. "
– Field Level Media