In 1966, two soccer leagues vied for dominance: the venerable NFL and the newcomer to sports, the AFL. On June 8, 1966, the two leagues announced their plans to merge, instead of arguing over players and a divided fan base. This meant that a new championship game had to be designed to show which league was the dominant each year. Today we know it as the Super Bowl – one of the most sophisticated and extravagant events of the year. But on January 15, 1967, when the first AFL-NFL World Championship game took place, it was something that was catastrophic, with TV glitches, a dispute over the name and thousands of vacancies that clouded the very first Super Bowl Sunday. To see how the big game almost fell apart, here are eight facts about the first Super Bowl.
In the beginning, the game was only casually known as the Super Bowl.
In 1966, meetings were held about the first championship game between the NFL and AFL promoted to be played in January of the next year. In addition to location and logistics, the big question that everyone asked was what it should be. Although Pete Rozelle, then the NFL's agent, suggested names like The Big One and The Pro Bowl (the same name as the NFL's all-star game), it was finally decided to call the game AFL -NFL World Championship Game.
However, a name like this does not cause a stir, and the newly merged league needed something more powerful. Then Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, remembered a toy his children played with, a Super Ball that led to his idea: the Super Bowl.
The name was supported by fans and the media, but Rozelle hated to see the word "super" too informal. At the start of the game, the tickets said “AFL-NFL World Championship Game,” but people still spontaneously called it the Super Bowl. In the fourth year, the league collapsed and eventually printed Super Bowl on the game's tickets. The Roman numerals made their debut for the Super Bowl V and stayed there every year with the exception of the Super Bowl 50 in 2016. (The first three championship games were also officially renamed Super Bowls afterwards.)
2. The first Super Bowl was broadcast on two networks.
Because the first Super Bowl were two completely different organizations, there was a problem in television broadcasting the game. NBC had the rights to broadcast AFL games, while CBS was the long-time rights holder for the NFL product. Since neither station would miss their league championship game, the first Super Bowl was the only one to be broadcast on two different networks at the same time. Competing networks also meant the announcement of competing teams: CBS used the well-known list of players Ray Scott in the first half, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford in the second half, who made color comments for the entire game. Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman led the NBC vote.
It turned out that the competition between the two networks for the assessment of superiority was just as intense as the rattling game on the field. Tensions were so high until day of play that a fence had to be built between the CBS and NBC production trucks to separate them all. The more well-known CBS NFL broadcasting team won the rating war that day, surpassing NBC's feed by just over 2 million viewers.
. 3 Super Bowl I wasn't nearly sold out.
The cheapest price for a Super Bowl LIII ticket – which will take place on February 2, 2019 – is currently between $ 2500 and $ 3000, but frankly, you probably could. If people double that up, the game would always be still a guaranteed sale. However, the first Super Bowl didn't have the same seal of approval. With tickets averaging $ 12, the 1967 AFL NFL World Championship game failed to sell the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum . It's still the only Super Bowl that doesn't fill its venue.
Around a third of the stadium's seats were empty to bring fans to the stadium instead of watching at home. Some fans resisted the high $ 12 ticket prices, while others were so upset by the power cut that they stayed away in protest. Whatever the reason, seeing tens of thousands of free seats for what is supposed to be the most important game in the history of both leagues was not what Rozelle had in mind when designing the Super Bowl.
. 4 Different balls and different rules were used for Super Bowl I.
The overall product between AFL and NFL was not that different, but there were a few issues when the rules were fair for both teams. The AFL's two-point conversion rule, which she used for the entire duration of her existence, was excluded from the game and instead allowed only the traditional point-to-field goal. When the AFL and NFL merged later, the two-point switch was banned until 1994 when it was reinstated across the league.
The other major change for the game was the ball itself. The AFL used a Spalding ball that was slightly longer and narrower and had a stickier surface than the Wilson-designed NFL ball. To make every team feel at home, the ball of their own league is used whenever it is attacked.
. 5 Super Bowl I's kickoff in the second half had to be repeated because the camera had missed it.
When the second half of Super Bowl I started, everyone was ready to kick off: players, referees, and the production team. Well, a production team was ready anyway. It turned out that NBC had missed the start of the second half because the network was too busy interviewing Bob Hope. The kick-off had to be repeated for almost half of the television audience. Even worse: Probably a poor soul Packers coach Vince Lombardi had to deliver the message.
. 6 The very first half-time show showed two guys in jetpacks.
Forget your appearances on Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi. The Super Bowl I halftime show was an affront to gravity when two men flew across the field in so-called jetpacks (technically "rocket belts") to give people a glimpse into the future of somewhat above-average success. Ground ride would look like this. There is very little video about the spectacle today, but this performance was later picked up again at the half-time show for the Super Bowl XIX when jetpacks made their long-awaited return to the absurdity of the grid.
The opening show also included some brass bands and the release of hundreds of pigeons into the air – one of them threw a gift directly onto the typewriter of a young Brent Musburger.
. 7 The original Super Bowl I broadcast material is currently in legal limbo.
Unlike today, when games are transferred to DVR, stored, edited in YouTube clips, and kept forever, there is no complete copy of Super Bowl I’s broadcast. In 2005, a man from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in his attic a copy of the CBS broadcast his father had recorded on two-inch quadruplex tapes. The mid-term broadcast and parts of the third quarter are missing. The footage has been digitally restored and is currently in a safe in the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan. To date, it has not been shown to the public because Troy Haupt, the owner of the band, is in dispute with the NFL over the exact value of the footage.
. 8 The NFL tried – and failed – in 2016 to show the game in some form.
Perhaps to show Haupt that they didn't need his tapes, the NFL network released a version of the game that wasn't from CBS or NBC footage, but from videos that were made by the then-emerging NFL Films- Department were edited. With the radio conversation played on it, every game of the game was broadcast in 2016, though it wasn't what it was originally seen in 1967. Unfortunately, the game also contained some questionable comments from current NFL network analysts throughout the show. The renewed broadcast was a disaster that the NFL network had to broadcast again without the intrusive comment of its own analysts.
. 9 There is a chance that we can all – finally – see Super Bowl I soon.
While the legal back and forth between Haupt and the NFL has been going on for years, there is a chance that could be resolved in the near future – but whether this happens could depend on a Kickstarter campaign. Earlier this month, filmmakers Tim Skousen and Jeremy Coon (producer and editor of Napoleon Dynamite ) launched a kickstarter with the goal of raising $ 50,000 for a documentary on the protracted legal battle for the rights to the Band that would finally see the footage released. Haupt works with Skousen and Coon on the project and has agreed to sell them the tape if everything goes according to plan.
"It is too easy for the NFL to put pressure on the little guy," said Skousen. The Wall Street Journal : "But thousands of little boys who are their biggest fans are a lot heavier." Although they have raised just under $ 10,000 so far, the campaign will not be completed until February 15, 2020.