PDA

View Full Version : A Giant Moment in pro Football History



kikibalt
02-01-2007, 10:47 AM
A Giant moment in pro football history
New York's rout of Chicago in 1956 caught the attention of the image makers of Madison Avenue.
By Murray Olderman, Special to The Times
February 1, 2007


The 1958 sudden-death title thriller between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts is often cited as the "Greatest Game Ever Played," highlighted by the memorable tableau of the Colts' Alan Ameche crashing into the end zone for the winning touchdown in pro football's first overtime game.

But it was two years earlier, on Dec. 30, 1956, that professional football arguably supplanted baseball as the national pastime on the frozen turf of New York's Yankee Stadium.

The temperature on the field was 16 degrees, and the wind-chill factor from the brisk 30-mph breeze blowing off the Harlem River drove it below zero for a game between the Giants and Chicago Bears.

In 1934, in a previous championship game against the Bears played on an icy field, the Giants had famously switched at halftime from cleats to basketball shoes and erased a 13-3 deficit to win, 30-13.

This time they were prepared in advance. A week earlier, the Giants' all-pro defensive end, Andy Robustelli, an ex-Ram who owned a sporting goods store in Connecticut, ordered 48 pairs of rubber-soled sneakers from U.S. Keds.

"The big thing," Frank Gifford, the Giants' multi-purpose running back and main offensive weapon, recalled in a telephone interview, "was that we had those sneakers on. The Bears wore cleats. Our first possession, I was flanked out second down and long. J.C. Caroline was playing me man-to-man. I faked an inside move and broke it out. He fell right on his [rear]. I knew we had them then."

By halftime, the Giants led, 34-7. The final score was 47-7. A month earlier, the Bears had tied the Giants, 17-17, in a regular-season meeting.

The rout, ending an arid spell of 18 seasons for the New York team, was the ultimate step in pro football's seduction of the image makers of Madison Avenue in mid-Manhattan, who personally became Giants fanatics and trumpeted the sport nationally and commercially.

"I'll always believe," said Gifford, now retired as a football broadcaster and living in Connecticut, "that '56 game and how it opened everyone's eyes to the excitement of pro football was the key to the development of the NFL today, more so than the '58 game. We became heroes in New York."

Gifford was the Giants' marquee name, a Southern California glamour guy who was awarded the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the most valuable player in 1956 (by vote of the NFL players). The former USC All-American was the hub of the New York offense. On this day, he carried the ball five times for 30 yards and caught four passes for 131 yards, one of them for the final touchdown of the game.

The Giants' coach was Jim Lee Howell, a long spoke of a man from Lonoke, Ark., who put together the most illustrious coaching staff in NFL history.

His first hire, as offensive coordinator, was an obscure assistant at Army, Vince Lombardi. The current Super Bowl trophy bears his name. The defensive coordinator was another future Hall of Famer, Tom Landry.



"All I have to do," Howell said laconically, "is check curfews and pump up footballs. When it's fourth and inches, I become the coach."

In New York in the fall of 1956, the Giants were the only game in town. New York University and Fordham had given up football. Columbia, once a Rose Bowl participant, slumped under the restrictive rules that minimized Ivy League football.

The previous January, the Giants signed a 20-year deal and moved from the dowdy Polo Grounds across the Harlem River to majestic Yankee Stadium, then the preeminent sports venue in America. It gave the Giants an aura of class.

Now the moneyed patrons of Westchester County who supported the World Series champion Yankees had the same straight shot to the stadium where a few months earlier Don Larsen had pitched his perfect World Series game down the Major Deegan Expressway to see the Giants.

And yet the Giants' draw of 337,563 for seven home games that season (including the title contest) was exceeded by the last-place Los Angeles Rams, who pulled in 367,138 for only six home games.

By the next season, however, stimulated by their first championship since 1938, Giants sellouts became routine.

The day before the 1956 championship game, pro football took another significant historical step. Formation of a National Football League Players Assn. was formally announced at a news conference in New York.

kikibalt
02-01-2007, 10:56 AM
SUPER BOWL XLI
First impressions
There was little to distinguish Super Bowl I from any other game, except the fact it was shown by two networks
By David Davis, Special to the Times
February 1, 2007

What if they played a Super Bowl and the nation shrugged?

That was the case 40 years ago, when the Green Bay Packers met the Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in the game that became known as Super Bowl I. Although NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle instituted a television blackout throughout Southern California, the Coliseum didn't come close to selling out.

"The people in Los Angeles didn't attend because they didn't see it as a big game," said NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who was a cameraman that day. "Super Bowl I was considered a sideshow, an afterthought."

As Vince Lombardi's Packers battled Hank Stram's Chiefs, another historic first was occurring at the Coliseum. Two national television networks, NBC and CBS, simultaneously broadcast the game the only time that has occurred at a major sports championship.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to compare and contrast the two networks' styles because neither preserved a full-length copy of the telecast. Highlights have survived, but no videotaped, kinescoped, or bootlegged version has ever been unearthed. Rumors that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who owned one of the earliest personal video-recording systems, had a private tape proved unfounded.

"It's a shame we don't have both telecasts," NBC announcer Charlie Jones said. "It would be great fun to go back and watch the game again."

Said CBS announcer Pat Summerall: "I still can't believe that no one has found a copy. That's what the networks and the NFL thought of the game they didn't think it was going to amount to anything."

Sports Illustrated has dubbed the broadcast one of sports' "25 Lost Treasures," and estimates its value at more than $1 million.

"It's the holy grail," said collector Doak Ewing, president of Naperville, Ill.-based Rare Sportsfilms. "It's the most desirable broadcast because it's the first Super Bowl."

TV and pro football

The ascendancy of professional football in the 1960s has long been attributed to television. Beginning with NBC's broadcast of the 1958 championship game between the Baltimore Colts-New York Giants, known as the "Greatest Game Ever Played," football and TV have been as well-matched as Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, NBC's popular news-anchor team, were in the '60s.

"Football has something from the playground, from the chessboard, from the ballet, from combat," Sabol said. "It's a celebration of the things that form the pillars of our society entertainment, celebrity, noise, violence."

In 1960, the formation of the American Football League challenged the NFL's supremacy. To the old guard, the AFL was a pass-happy league with more flash than depth. Many pundits believed that the AFL's survival was due only to its lucrative TV contracts, first with ABC and then with NBC, which enabled the league to outbid the NFL for quarterback Joe Namath and other collegiate stars.

"Most people connected to the NFL didn't think too much of the AFL," Summerall said. "It was considered an outlaw league that wasn't any good."

In the era before YouTube and TiVo and before the ESPN-ification of sports media television and sports moved slowly into the modern age. Innovations such as slow-motion instant replay and satellite technology, however, began to allow for more sophisticated broadcasts. Sports properties such as the Olympics and pro football became valuable commodities for advertising and television executives alike.

In 1962, CBS outbid NBC for the broadcast rights to the NFL. In 1965, NBC paid a then-whopping $36.5 million to beat out ABC for the AFL.

In 1966, the seemingly unthinkable happened: The AFL and the NFL agreed to merge. The two leagues, which continued with separate schedules until 1970, decided to match their champions in a championship playoff game.

The offspring of the just-consummated merger needed a name, and Rozelle originally called it "The AFL-NFL World Championship Game." Later, Chiefs owner and AFL co-founder Lamar Hunt dubbed the game "the Super Bowl." Hunt's version prevailed with sportswriters and, eventually, the public and Rozelle.

Rozelle thought the game should be played at a neutral site with warm weather. As a graduate of Compton High and Compton Junior College and as the former general manager of the Los Angeles Rams Rozelle knew the Southern California market. The Rams were a popular draw the team held the NFL's single-game attendance record and the Coliseum, which could then seat more than 100,000, had long been the site of the Pro Bowl, the league's postseason All-Star game.

In early December, just weeks before kickoff, Rozelle announced that the championship game would be played Jan. 15 at the Coliseum (with the Pro Bowl scheduled the week after). Tickets were priced at $12, $10 and $6.

With NBC holding the AFL's television rights and CBS owning the NFL's, Rozelle decided to sell the television rights to both networks for $1 million each. The two networks agreed on a unique arrangement: They would share CBS' pictures, with each airing separate pregame and postgame shows.

William Creasy, CBS' producer for Super Bowl I and II, said the arrangement was a compromise after Rozelle had met with CBS Sports president Bill MacPhail and NBC Sports head Carl Lindemann.

"Pete made the decision to put CBS in charge of the telecast primarily because the NFL was the predominant league and he wanted to give something to CBS," Creasy said.

This wasn't the only inter-league compromise. Because the AFL (Spalding) and the NFL (Wilson) used different-sized footballs, each team used its own ball while on offense.

The final piece in the puzzle was the game itself. After beating the Rams in their final regular-season game, the Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34-37, to win their fourth NFL title in six years. Meanwhile, in Buffalo, the Chiefs downed the Bills, 31-7, to take the AFL championship.

The new-fangled "supergame" (as Sports Illustrated called it) had arrived, pitting the Packers against Hunt's franchise.

"This game meant the world to the AFL because just sharing the field with the NFL put them on equal footing," Sabol said. "For the NFL, it was a no-win situation. Lombardi was so uptight before the game because all of the NFL owners were counting on the Packers to win and win big."

Covering the game

In a sense, NBC and CBS reflected the leagues they covered. CBS was the Tiffany Network, just as the long-established NFL represented the apogee of professional football. The peacock network lagged behind CBS in the ratings and in the number of local affiliates, just as the AFL was considered the also-ran.

This status was reflected in the advertising rates for Super Bowl I. CBS got $85,000 per minute for commercials, NBC $75,000. (In 2006, ABC charged about $2.5 million for a 30-second spot.)

NBC's announcing team featured Curt Gowdy (play-by-play), Paul Christman, George Ratterman and Jones. CBS countered with Ray Scott and Jack Whitaker, alternating on play-by-play, and two NFL veterans, Frank Gifford and Summerall, working as analysts and sideline reporters.

To NBC, the Super Bowl offered an opportunity to strut their stuff. "We were anxious to prove that we could cover the game as well as they could," sideline reporter Ratterman said.

The production crews of both networks met at CBS' hotel in L.A.

According to NBC vice president Chet Simmons, engineers from the two networks "got into a fight, a rumble before the game. We had to put up a chain-link fence between the trucks at the Coliseum."

On game day, NBC and CBS competed as hard as the Packers and the Chiefs.

Gifford used his relationship with Lombardi the former USC star had played under Lombardi with the New York Giants to arrange for an exclusive live interview right before kickoff.

"We were going to scoop them," Gifford said, "but when Lombardi came out of the tunnel he waved me away. He was so nervous because everyone was putting pressure on him to win the game."

Gifford finally talked Lombardi into doing the interview, only to have Christman run across the field and stick his NBC microphone into the picture.

Meanwhile, NBC augmented CBS' exclusive feed by dismantling a camera and then reassembling it inside their production truck. "We were shooting a picture of a picture," associate producer Don Ellis said. "We could zoom in on the action for a close-up or we could tape it and then punch it up on replay."

There were moments of peace. Working the sideline behind the Packers' bench, Jones and Summerall agreed to share details about injuries. When Packers wide receiver Boyd Dowler suffered a shoulder injury early in the first quarter, Summerall got the report and related that to Jones. Both networks informed their audiences, at about the same time, that Dowler was hurt and unable to keep playing.

Dowler's injury was a turning point in the game. His substitute was Max McGee, a veteran receiver and an inveterate partyer. Expecting to do nothing but soak up the sun alongside injured teammate Paul Hornung, McGee had broken curfew the night before and returned to the hotel in the early morning.

Thrust into the game, he made a one-handed catch that went for a 37-yard touchdown reception to give the Packers a 7-0 lead.

Jones later was involved in the most infamous moment of the broadcast. At halftime, after the Grambling band had performed, he conducted a one-on-one interview with entertainer Bob Hope. The conversation flowed, and then NBC cut to commercial. Before NBC could return live, the Packers had kicked off.

"All of a sudden, we see the Packers kicking off," Simmons said. "We started yelling and screaming that we weren't back from commercial."

Unbelievably, the officials halted the action and the Packers kicked off a second time.

At halftime, the Packers led only 14-10, and "the big surprise to all of us was that Kansas City was a lot better than we thought they were," according to Summerall.

But in the first series after the do-over kickoff, Packers safety Willie Wood intercepted a pass thrown by Len Dawson. Wood, a former USC star, returned the ball 50 yards, to the Chiefs' five-yard line, where he was tackled by halfback Mike Garrett, another former USC standout. The Packers scored on the next play to take a 21-10 lead.

The game was effectively over as the Packers rolled to a 35-10 win. With seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns, McGee was the standout. Quarterback Bart Starr completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns to win game MVP. Each Packer earned $15,000 for the victory.

The NFL had prevailed, but the rivalry between the two networks wasn't over. In the victorious locker room, Summerall recalls that he was instructed "not to give up the microphone. The only concession for the postgame show was to let the NBC representative ask one question."

Distant replay

Rozelle's television blackout throughout Southern California proved ineffective: The game attracted only 61,946 spectators.

"I had 10 tickets and I couldn't give them all away before the game," Sabol said. "But I did save the unused tickets."

The two networks attracted about 65 million viewers, the largest audience for a sporting event to that point. CBS garnered a 23 rating, NBC a 17.8. The next day, both networks re-broadcast the game.

In 1968, only CBS aired the Packers' defeat of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II. That broadcast is also lost.

In 1969, Joe Namath and the New York Jets shocked the sports world by beating the Baltimore Colts. NBC aired that game the first Super Bowl broadcast that exists in its entirety and the moment when the AFL broke through.

"After that game, I remember seeing a bunch of NBC suits leaning against the production truck with big smiles," Jones said. "That's when the Super Bowl caught on."

Shortly thereafter, as the Super Bowl morphed into our national secular holiday, it was discovered that the Super Bowl I telecasts had disappeared. They met the same fate as thousands of hours of original television programming from the 1950s through the late 1970s: they were erased, taped over, or discarded.

Missing in action are many historic sports events, including the early NFL title games and the "Immaculate Reception" game.

"The storage costs for the old, bulky two-inch tapes were expensive," Sportsfilms' Ewing said. "The networks either taped over them or else they threw them out. It was a business decision that goes against a collector's mentality."

"My guess is that there was an inadvertent erasure," former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson said.

Recently, a ray of hope has emerged. The Museum of Television & Radio, which has long sought television's most elusive "lost programs," has located what curators describe as a legitimate broadcast copy of Super Bowl I (including commercials). The Museum is cautiously optimistic that modern-day technology can restore the tape.

"Up until last year, it seemed as if the game would never surface," said Museum of Television curator Ron Simon. "We're now pursuing a possibility that the CBS version might have been saved. We're taking a look at it to see if we can recover the images."

If the museum is successful, the world will finally be able to view the indelible moments of Super Bowl I, as they unspooled on a sunny January day in 1967: a one-handed catch, a game-turning interception and return, and a rivalry that extended from the field into the broadcast booth.

"This was when it all started," Ewing said. "The Super Bowl was nothing then. Now, it's the greatest single-day sporting event in the U.S."

kikibalt
02-01-2007, 10:57 AM
SUPER BOWL XLI
First impressions
There was little to distinguish Super Bowl I from any other game, except the fact it was shown by two networks
By David Davis, Special to the Times
February 1, 2007

What if they played a Super Bowl and the nation shrugged?

That was the case 40 years ago, when the Green Bay Packers met the Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in the game that became known as Super Bowl I. Although NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle instituted a television blackout throughout Southern California, the Coliseum didn't come close to selling out.

"The people in Los Angeles didn't attend because they didn't see it as a big game," said NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who was a cameraman that day. "Super Bowl I was considered a sideshow, an afterthought."

As Vince Lombardi's Packers battled Hank Stram's Chiefs, another historic first was occurring at the Coliseum. Two national television networks, NBC and CBS, simultaneously broadcast the game the only time that has occurred at a major sports championship.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to compare and contrast the two networks' styles because neither preserved a full-length copy of the telecast. Highlights have survived, but no videotaped, kinescoped, or bootlegged version has ever been unearthed. Rumors that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who owned one of the earliest personal video-recording systems, had a private tape proved unfounded.

"It's a shame we don't have both telecasts," NBC announcer Charlie Jones said. "It would be great fun to go back and watch the game again."

Said CBS announcer Pat Summerall: "I still can't believe that no one has found a copy. That's what the networks and the NFL thought of the game they didn't think it was going to amount to anything."

Sports Illustrated has dubbed the broadcast one of sports' "25 Lost Treasures," and estimates its value at more than $1 million.

"It's the holy grail," said collector Doak Ewing, president of Naperville, Ill.-based Rare Sportsfilms. "It's the most desirable broadcast because it's the first Super Bowl."

TV and pro football

The ascendancy of professional football in the 1960s has long been attributed to television. Beginning with NBC's broadcast of the 1958 championship game between the Baltimore Colts-New York Giants, known as the "Greatest Game Ever Played," football and TV have been as well-matched as Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, NBC's popular news-anchor team, were in the '60s.

"Football has something from the playground, from the chessboard, from the ballet, from combat," Sabol said. "It's a celebration of the things that form the pillars of our society entertainment, celebrity, noise, violence."

In 1960, the formation of the American Football League challenged the NFL's supremacy. To the old guard, the AFL was a pass-happy league with more flash than depth. Many pundits believed that the AFL's survival was due only to its lucrative TV contracts, first with ABC and then with NBC, which enabled the league to outbid the NFL for quarterback Joe Namath and other collegiate stars.

"Most people connected to the NFL didn't think too much of the AFL," Summerall said. "It was considered an outlaw league that wasn't any good."

In the era before YouTube and TiVo and before the ESPN-ification of sports media television and sports moved slowly into the modern age. Innovations such as slow-motion instant replay and satellite technology, however, began to allow for more sophisticated broadcasts. Sports properties such as the Olympics and pro football became valuable commodities for advertising and television executives alike.

In 1962, CBS outbid NBC for the broadcast rights to the NFL. In 1965, NBC paid a then-whopping $36.5 million to beat out ABC for the AFL.

In 1966, the seemingly unthinkable happened: The AFL and the NFL agreed to merge. The two leagues, which continued with separate schedules until 1970, decided to match their champions in a championship playoff game.

The offspring of the just-consummated merger needed a name, and Rozelle originally called it "The AFL-NFL World Championship Game." Later, Chiefs owner and AFL co-founder Lamar Hunt dubbed the game "the Super Bowl." Hunt's version prevailed with sportswriters and, eventually, the public and Rozelle.

Rozelle thought the game should be played at a neutral site with warm weather. As a graduate of Compton High and Compton Junior College and as the former general manager of the Los Angeles Rams Rozelle knew the Southern California market. The Rams were a popular draw the team held the NFL's single-game attendance record and the Coliseum, which could then seat more than 100,000, had long been the site of the Pro Bowl, the league's postseason All-Star game.

In early December, just weeks before kickoff, Rozelle announced that the championship game would be played Jan. 15 at the Coliseum (with the Pro Bowl scheduled the week after). Tickets were priced at $12, $10 and $6.

With NBC holding the AFL's television rights and CBS owning the NFL's, Rozelle decided to sell the television rights to both networks for $1 million each. The two networks agreed on a unique arrangement: They would share CBS' pictures, with each airing separate pregame and postgame shows.

William Creasy, CBS' producer for Super Bowl I and II, said the arrangement was a compromise after Rozelle had met with CBS Sports president Bill MacPhail and NBC Sports head Carl Lindemann.

"Pete made the decision to put CBS in charge of the telecast primarily because the NFL was the predominant league and he wanted to give something to CBS," Creasy said.

This wasn't the only inter-league compromise. Because the AFL (Spalding) and the NFL (Wilson) used different-sized footballs, each team used its own ball while on offense.

The final piece in the puzzle was the game itself. After beating the Rams in their final regular-season game, the Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34-37, to win their fourth NFL title in six years. Meanwhile, in Buffalo, the Chiefs downed the Bills, 31-7, to take the AFL championship.

The new-fangled "supergame" (as Sports Illustrated called it) had arrived, pitting the Packers against Hunt's franchise.

"This game meant the world to the AFL because just sharing the field with the NFL put them on equal footing," Sabol said. "For the NFL, it was a no-win situation. Lombardi was so uptight before the game because all of the NFL owners were counting on the Packers to win and win big."

Covering the game

In a sense, NBC and CBS reflected the leagues they covered. CBS was the Tiffany Network, just as the long-established NFL represented the apogee of professional football. The peacock network lagged behind CBS in the ratings and in the number of local affiliates, just as the AFL was considered the also-ran.

This status was reflected in the advertising rates for Super Bowl I. CBS got $85,000 per minute for commercials, NBC $75,000. (In 2006, ABC charged about $2.5 million for a 30-second spot.)

NBC's announcing team featured Curt Gowdy (play-by-play), Paul Christman, George Ratterman and Jones. CBS countered with Ray Scott and Jack Whitaker, alternating on play-by-play, and two NFL veterans, Frank Gifford and Summerall, working as analysts and sideline reporters.

To NBC, the Super Bowl offered an opportunity to strut their stuff. "We were anxious to prove that we could cover the game as well as they could," sideline reporter Ratterman said.

The production crews of both networks met at CBS' hotel in L.A.

According to NBC vice president Chet Simmons, engineers from the two networks "got into a fight, a rumble before the game. We had to put up a chain-link fence between the trucks at the Coliseum."

On game day, NBC and CBS competed as hard as the Packers and the Chiefs.

Gifford used his relationship with Lombardi the former USC star had played under Lombardi with the New York Giants to arrange for an exclusive live interview right before kickoff.

"We were going to scoop them," Gifford said, "but when Lombardi came out of the tunnel he waved me away. He was so nervous because everyone was putting pressure on him to win the game."

Gifford finally talked Lombardi into doing the interview, only to have Christman run across the field and stick his NBC microphone into the picture.

Meanwhile, NBC augmented CBS' exclusive feed by dismantling a camera and then reassembling it inside their production truck. "We were shooting a picture of a picture," associate producer Don Ellis said. "We could zoom in on the action for a close-up or we could tape it and then punch it up on replay."

There were moments of peace. Working the sideline behind the Packers' bench, Jones and Summerall agreed to share details about injuries. When Packers wide receiver Boyd Dowler suffered a shoulder injury early in the first quarter, Summerall got the report and related that to Jones. Both networks informed their audiences, at about the same time, that Dowler was hurt and unable to keep playing.

Dowler's injury was a turning point in the game. His substitute was Max McGee, a veteran receiver and an inveterate partyer. Expecting to do nothing but soak up the sun alongside injured teammate Paul Hornung, McGee had broken curfew the night before and returned to the hotel in the early morning.

Thrust into the game, he made a one-handed catch that went for a 37-yard touchdown reception to give the Packers a 7-0 lead.

Jones later was involved in the most infamous moment of the broadcast. At halftime, after the Grambling band had performed, he conducted a one-on-one interview with entertainer Bob Hope. The conversation flowed, and then NBC cut to commercial. Before NBC could return live, the Packers had kicked off.

"All of a sudden, we see the Packers kicking off," Simmons said. "We started yelling and screaming that we weren't back from commercial."

Unbelievably, the officials halted the action and the Packers kicked off a second time.

At halftime, the Packers led only 14-10, and "the big surprise to all of us was that Kansas City was a lot better than we thought they were," according to Summerall.

But in the first series after the do-over kickoff, Packers safety Willie Wood intercepted a pass thrown by Len Dawson. Wood, a former USC star, returned the ball 50 yards, to the Chiefs' five-yard line, where he was tackled by halfback Mike Garrett, another former USC standout. The Packers scored on the next play to take a 21-10 lead.

The game was effectively over as the Packers rolled to a 35-10 win. With seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns, McGee was the standout. Quarterback Bart Starr completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns to win game MVP. Each Packer earned $15,000 for the victory.

The NFL had prevailed, but the rivalry between the two networks wasn't over. In the victorious locker room, Summerall recalls that he was instructed "not to give up the microphone. The only concession for the postgame show was to let the NBC representative ask one question."

Distant replay

Rozelle's television blackout throughout Southern California proved ineffective: The game attracted only 61,946 spectators.

"I had 10 tickets and I couldn't give them all away before the game," Sabol said. "But I did save the unused tickets."

The two networks attracted about 65 million viewers, the largest audience for a sporting event to that point. CBS garnered a 23 rating, NBC a 17.8. The next day, both networks re-broadcast the game.

In 1968, only CBS aired the Packers' defeat of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II. That broadcast is also lost.

In 1969, Joe Namath and the New York Jets shocked the sports world by beating the Baltimore Colts. NBC aired that game the first Super Bowl broadcast that exists in its entirety and the moment when the AFL broke through.

"After that game, I remember seeing a bunch of NBC suits leaning against the production truck with big smiles," Jones said. "That's when the Super Bowl caught on."

Shortly thereafter, as the Super Bowl morphed into our national secular holiday, it was discovered that the Super Bowl I telecasts had disappeared. They met the same fate as thousands of hours of original television programming from the 1950s through the late 1970s: they were erased, taped over, or discarded.

Missing in action are many historic sports events, including the early NFL title games and the "Immaculate Reception" game.

"The storage costs for the old, bulky two-inch tapes were expensive," Sportsfilms' Ewing said. "The networks either taped over them or else they threw them out. It was a business decision that goes against a collector's mentality."

"My guess is that there was an inadvertent erasure," former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson said.

Recently, a ray of hope has emerged. The Museum of Television & Radio, which has long sought television's most elusive "lost programs," has located what curators describe as a legitimate broadcast copy of Super Bowl I (including commercials). The Museum is cautiously optimistic that modern-day technology can restore the tape.

"Up until last year, it seemed as if the game would never surface," said Museum of Television curator Ron Simon. "We're now pursuing a possibility that the CBS version might have been saved. We're taking a look at it to see if we can recover the images."

If the museum is successful, the world will finally be able to view the indelible moments of Super Bowl I, as they unspooled on a sunny January day in 1967: a one-handed catch, a game-turning interception and return, and a rivalry that extended from the field into the broadcast booth.

"This was when it all started," Ewing said. "The Super Bowl was nothing then. Now, it's the greatest single-day sporting event in the U.S."

Roberto Aqui
02-01-2007, 12:40 PM
"The people in Los Angeles didn't attend because they didn't see it as a big game," said NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who was a cameraman that day. "Super Bowl I was considered a sideshow, an afterthought."

Superbowl is still a sideshow. Attend a superbowl party, and most of the partiers are busy drinking, eating and yakking. The only reason some watch is because of their gambling addiction. For many of the rest, the superbowl is just the backdrop to a good party. Just look at the beer ads. Football is just an excuse for the biggest national party.

Cali sports fans have long had a reputation of being laid back. There is simply too much good weather and beautiful geography for sports to compete against. Sure, they can get together to set records for select local popular teams, which the Packers and Chiefs were not.

The first game was immensely important to diehard football fans. I grew up in a storied AFL town and AFL state, the first AFL champs, the Oilers and Texans. The big hope here was that Dallas would face the Chiefs who were really the original Texans. My adrenaline level was sky high for the 1st game, probably too high to pass modern drug screen muster.

The marquee game that year, arguably the best pro game ever played, was the ice bowl where Starr skated in for the winning TD over a storied Dallas team with time running out, two of the most storied teams and coaches in history. No Superbowl has ever captured that drama. Indeed, the game has a reputation for boring contests with only a few exceptions, thus the moniker, SuperBore.

JeffR
02-01-2007, 08:03 PM
Superbowl is still a sideshow. Attend a superbowl party, and most of the partiers are busy drinking, eating and yakking. The only reason some watch is because of their gambling addiction. Foromany of the rest, the superbowl is just the backdrop to a good party. Just look at the beer ads. Football is just an excuse for the biggest national party.


Superbowl Sunday has long been The National Party Day. Actually, I believe that througout the '70s the game itself was the true focus of the day. But then you had that decade-and-a-half stretch from roughly the mid-80s until the late-'90s when the National Conference team won every year, almost always in a boring, non-competitve game, and it was during that timeframe that the game became nothing but an excuse to have a party.

By the way, "The Ice Bowl" NFL Championship Game preceeded the second Super Bowl when the Packers dominated the Oakland Raiders. But the Cowboys also lost the NFL Championship Game to Green Bay prior to the first Superbowl. (The one played in Dallas when Don Meredith had a pass intercepted or dropped, don't remember which off the top of my head, in Green Bay's end zone.) But you're right, both of those NFL Championship games were far more exciting than the Superbowl that followed.

DscribeDC
02-02-2007, 11:12 AM
So glad that Super Sunday is no longer "National Let's Kick the Broncos/Bills In the Ass Day". But now that the league has parity, all you hear is people lamenting the decline of NFL dynasties.

Make up your minds people!