Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15, 1967: 50 Years Since Super Bowl I

January 15, 1967, 50 years ago today: The 1st AFL-NFL World Championship Game is held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, between the Champions of the American Football League, their founding franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs; and the Champions of the National Football League, their most successful franchise with 10 Championships, the Green Bay Packers. It is the beginning of the competitive phase of the merger between the 2 leagues, which had battled since 1960.

Lamar Hunt, founder of the AFL and founding owner of the Chiefs, claimed he'd seen his children playing with a little rubber ball, marketed as a "Super Ball." So he suggested that the Game be called "the Super Bowl." The name stuck, and in 1969, it was made official. It wasn't until 1971 that the Roman numerals came into effect: Super Bowl V. The 1st 4 were retroactively renamed Super Bowl I, Super Bowl II, Super Bowl III and Super Bowl IV.

Super Bowl 50 -- presumably given the actual number because the Roman numeral for 50 is "L," and, in football, "L" means "loss" -- was played last February 7, at Levi's Stadium in the San Francisco suburb of Santa Clara. The Denver Broncos won it.

The L.A. Coliseum should've hosted Super Bowl 50, or at least Super Bowl LI (to be played this coming February 6, at NRG Stadium in Houston), to celebrate the anniversary. But the NFL wants that skybox revenue, which the Coliseum just doesn't have. And so the Super Bowl, last played in the L.A. area in 1993 (Super Bowl XXVII), at the Rose Bowl in suburban Pasadena, won't return until February 7, 2021 (Super Bowl LV, at the new Los Angeles Rams stadium, currently under construction and named City of Champions Stadium, in suburban Inglewood).


This is what the world was like on January 15, 1967:
The Packers were the only team playing in the same stadium then as they are now. This is sort of true for the Los Angeles Rams, but they left and returned. There was an NFL team in Baltimore, but it was the Colts, not the Ravens. There was an AFL team in Houston, but it was the Oilers, not the Texans.
The Packers were looking to succeed themselves as World Champions. The other titleholders at the time were the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Celtics, and the Montreal Canadiens. The Heavyweight Champion of the World was Muhammad Ali, although, on April 29, he would no longer hold that title – and not through having been defeated in the ring.
Such now-iconic franchises as the Dallas Cowboys, the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos and the New England (then "Boston") Patriots had yet to win their 1st titles.
The defining players of my youth? Mean Joe Greene, Larry Csonka, O.J. Simpson and Terry Bradshaw were in college. Lyle Alzado, Joe Thiesmann and Ron Jaworski were in high school. Randy White was celebrating his 14th birthday. Tony Dorsett and Walter Payton were 12 years old. Earl Campbell was 11. Joe Montana was 10. Lawrence Taylor was 7. John Elway was 6. Dan Marino was 5. Jerry Rice was 4.
Current Chiefs coach Andy Reid was 10. Current Packers coach Mike McCarthy was 3. So was current Jets coach Todd Bowles. Current Giants coach Ben McAdoo wasn't born yet.
The Olympics have since been held in America 4 times; Canada 3 times; twice each in France, Japan and Russia; and once each in Mexico, Germany, Austria, Bosnia, Korea, Spain, Norway, Australia, Greece, Italy, China, Britain and Brazil. The World Cup has since been held twice each in Mexico and Germany, and once each in America, Argentina, Spain, Italy, France, Japan, Korea, South Africa and Brazil.

The President of the United States was Lyndon Baines Johnson. Former Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and their wives, were still alive. Richard Nixon was preparing his 2nd run for the Presidency. Gerald Ford was House Minority Leader. Jimmy Carter had just lost his 1st run for the Governorship of Georgia. Ronald Reagan had just been sworn in as Governor of California. George H.W. Bush was a Congressman from Texas, and his son was at Yale University. Bill Clinton was at Georgetown University. Barack Obama was 5 years old. Donald Trump was at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, getting both medical and collegiate deferments to keep him out of serving in the Vietnam War.

The Prime Minister of Canada was Lester Pearson, for whom Toronto's airport is now named; and of Britain, Harold Wilson. Queen Elizabeth II was Britain's monarch -- that hasn't changed. The titleholders of England's Football League were Liverpool, and the holders of the FA Cup, their neighbors Everton. The European Cup was held by Real Madrid.
The Governor of Wisconsin was Warren Knowles; of Missouri, Warren Hearnes (for whom the University of Missouri's arena is named); of New York, Nelson Rockefeller; and of New Jersey, Richard J. Hughes. The Mayor of Green Bay was Donald Tilleman; of Kansas City, Ilus W. Davis; and of New York, John Lindsay.
The current holders of those offices? Respectively: Tony Evers was in high school, Eric Greitens wasn't born yet, Andrew Cuomo was 9, Chris Christie was 4, Jim Schmitt was 8, Sly James was in high school, and Bill de Blasio was 5.

The Nobel Committee did not award a Peace Prize for 1966 -- and wouldn't for 1967, either -- so the 1965 honoree was still the holder: UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.
The Pope was Paul VI. The current Pope, Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was teaching literature and psychology at a university in Buenos Aires. There have since been 10 Presidents of the United States, 9 Prime Ministers of Britain, and 5 Popes.

Major novels of 1967 included The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron.

In non-fiction, Desmond Morris published The Naked Ape, and Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore published a book about the effects of mass media: Trading on McLuhan's earlier saying, "The medium is the message," they titled it The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. William Manchester released his study of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, The Death of a President. JFK's brother, Robert F. Kennedy, published To Seek a Newer World, and Martin Luther King wrote Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? 
Major films debuting in the Winter of 1967 included A Countess from Hong Kong (the last film directed by Charlie Chaplin), The Venetian Affair, and The Born Losers, the 1st film in the Billy Jack series. Color television was about to debut in France. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was established. TV shows Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Monkees, That Girl, The Time Tunnel, Family Affair, The Rat Patrol and The Hollywood Squares all debuted in the season that was underway. Sean Connery was finishing up the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and Patrick Troughton had recently begun playing The Doctor.
Cult classics Batman, Get Smart, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour were still on the air. A TV version of The Green Hornet, by the same production team as Batman, came and went, despite a crossover between the 2 shows. Laugh-In, The Carol Burnett Show, Mannix, Ironside, The Flying Nun, a cartoon version of Spider-Man (introducing the "does whatever a spider can" theme song) and The Prisoner were a few months away from their debuts. Patrick Troughton was playing The Doctor. Bob Holiday had recently starred in the Broadway musical It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman.

No one had yet heard of Hawkeye Pierce, Lieutenant Columbo, Michael Corleone, HAL 900, Scooby-Doo, Big Bird, Monty Python, Mary Richards, Archie Bunker, Dirty Harry, John Shaft, The Fonz, Rocky Balboa, Luke Skywalker, J.R. Ewing, Hannibal Lecter, Marty McFly, Jon Snow, Harry Potter, Jed Bartlet, Tony Soprano, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Lisbeth Salander, Katniss Everdeen, Richard Castle, Leslie Knope, Jane "Eleven" Hopper or Maggie Bell.

The Number 1 song in America was "I'm a Believer," performed by The Monkees, and written by Neil Diamond. The Beatles were rewriting the rules of rock and roll album-making, as they were recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Doors were about to release their self-titled debut album, including "Light My Fire" and the even more controversial "The End." (Jim Morrison didn't actually say the F-word on the album, but he sure as hell implied it.)

The Velvet Underground released The Velvet Underground & Nico, with its cover of a banana painted by their patron, Andy Warhol. It introduced the world not just to Nico, the German chanteuse, but also the voice, guitar, and, most importantly, lyrics of Lou Reed, including "Waiting for the Man" and "Heroin." As Brian Eno later said, "Not very many people bought The Velvet Underground & Nico. But, of everybody who did, nearly everybody went out and formed a band."

Jimi Hendrix, with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released his debut album, Are You Experienced? It included "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," and "Fire" (as in, "Let me stand next to your... "). The Jefferson Airplane released Surrealistic Pillow, which included "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." The Grateful Dead released their self-titled debut album, which was mostly covers of blues songs. The Youngbloods released their self-titled debut album, which included "Get Together."

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas released King & Queen, which included "Tramp." Aretha Franklin released I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, which included the title track and Otis' song "Respect."

Laura Nyro released her debut album, More Than a New Discovery, which included "Wedding Bell Blues" (later a Number 1 hit for the 5th Dimension), "And When I Die" (later a hit for Blood, Sweat & Tears) and "Stoney End" (later a hit for Barbra Streisand). Dolly Parton released her debut album, Hello, I'm Dolly. Tom Jones went country with The Green, Green Grass of Home, including the already-known title track.

The Turtles released Happy Together. The 5th Dimension released Up, Up and Away. David Bowie released his self-titled debut album, although it gave no hint as to the innovation and shock value that would come later.

Elvis Presley married his longtime girlfriend Priscillia Beaulieu. He was still making weak music and weaker movies. He really needed a change of direction.  Within a year, he would get it, and remind everyone just who was King around here, anyway. The Jackson 5 had begun performing on "the chitlin circuit," and would soon debut at New York's Apollo Theater.
A few hours after the Super Bowl, CBS broadcast The Ed Sullivan Show, where the lead guests were The Rolling Stones. They were ready to play both sides of their current single. The A side was titled "Let's Spend the Night Together." But they were told they couldn't say those words on American network television. "Let's Spend Some Time Together" was suggested.
Lead singer Mick Jagger and bass guitarist Bill Wyman could both be seen rolling not their stones, but their eyes. Lead guitarist Keith Richards seemed to be gritting his teeth through the whole thing. Drummer Charlie Watts never changed his expression, but then, that was normal for him. Rhythm guitarist Brian Jones, playing piano on this performance, seemed to be too stoned to notice. As a result of the controversy, most American disc jockeys flipped the record over, and the B side became the Number 1 hit: "Ruby Tuesday."
There were still living veterans of America's "Indian Wars" of the 19th Century, the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, and the British Army from the Battle of Omdurman.

Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $7.34 would buy now. A postage stamps cost 5 cents, and a New York Subway ride was 20 cents. The average prices of a gallon of gas was 33 cents, a cup of coffee 38 cents, a McDonald's meal (cheeseburger, fries, shake -- the Big Mac was introduced the next year) 75 cents, a movie ticket $1.25, a new car $2,750, and a new house $14,250. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the preceding Friday at 835.13.

Computers were huge, and most certainly did not fit on top of a desk, never mind a lap, or in a pocket. Cars were available with telephones, but a cordless phone was still something seen in science fiction. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee were 12 years old.

The Moon landing program was about to stall as a result of the Apollo 1 fire, 12 days later. Man had not yet broken Earth orbit, and there was considerable doubt as to whether NASA would meet President John F. Kennedy's 1961 "goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon, and returning him safely to the Earth." The Soviets had their own space-program problems, with Vladimir Komarov unable to open the parachute of Soyuz 1, and crashing, becoming the 1st person to die as the result of a spaceflight.

There were artificial kidneys, but no artificial hearts. Transplanting a kidney or a lung was possible, but doing it with a heart or liver was still a few months away. There were birth control pills, but no Viagra.
In the Winter of 1967, the U.S., Britain and the Soviet Union signed the Outer Space Treaty, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in space. Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin visited Britain, and met with Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Wilson. There was a coup in the African nation of Togo. Fires on the Australian island of Tasmania killed 62 people.
In America, the Human Be-In took place at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the coming-out party for the Hippie movement, paving the way for the "Summer of Love." Dr. James Bedford, who died of cancer 3 days before Super Bowl I, became the 1st person to be cryonically preserved with the intent of future resuscitation. (His body remains frozen, and no attempt has been made to revive him.) Albert DeSalvo, who had confessed to being the Boston Strangler (but may not have been), was convicted of unconnected crimes, and sentenced to life in prison.

Chicago was hit by the largest blizzard in its history. The American Basketball Association was founded. And the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified, providing for the disability of the President and the filling of a vacancy in the office of the Vice President.
Evelyn Nesbit, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, and former boxing champion Barney Ross died. R. Kelly, and basketball star Kim Perrot, and soccer star Roberto Baggio were born.
That's what the world was like on January 15, 1967, when Super Bowl I was played.


The University of Arizona Marching Band created a physical outline of the United States at midfield, and the drill team from nearby Anaheim High School placed banners of each NFL and AFL team at their corresponding location on the map. The University of Michigan band played the National Anthem. And the Bell Rocket Air Men, wearing early jetpacks, demonstrated before the game as well.

The band from Grambling State University, the famous black college of northern Louisiana, played at halftime, as did another Louisiana legend, jazz trumpeter Al Hirt. There were no cheerleaders, but the Los Angeles Ramettes, an all-ladies drumline, played before the game and after every quarter.

Referee Norm Schachter carried out the ceremonial pregame coin toss, without assistance from a celebrity, as has been done since Super Bowl XII. The heavily favored Packers won the toss, and Mike Mercer of the Chiefs kicked off at 1:15 PM Pacific Time -- 4:15 in the East. It was, typically for Los Angeles, even in Winter, 72 degrees and sunny.

The Packers did not score on their opening possession. They did, however, produce the 1st score, as Bart Starr threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Max McGee with 6:04 left in the 1st quarter. Don Chandler kicked the extra point, and it was Packers 7, Chiefs 0.
Starr, barking signals. Yes, that's a single-bar facemask.

The Chiefs tied the game early in the 2nd quarter, as Len Dawson threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Curts McClinton, followed by an extra point by Mercer. Each team would score again before the half was out: Jim Taylor on a 14-yard run for Green Bay, Mercer on a 31-yard field goal. The score at the half: Packers 14, Chiefs 10. The AFL Champions were very much still in the game.

The AFL Champions did not score again. So much has been made of the Green Bay offense (with Hall-of-Famers Starr, Taylor and Forrest Gregg, with Hall-of-Famer Paul Hornung injured and unable to play) that their defense (with Hall-of-Famers Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley and Willie Wood) often gets overlooked. But the Chiefs (whose Hall-of-Famers included Len Dawson on offense and Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier on defense) would not score again until the 1967 AFL season dawned.

The Packers added touchdowns at each end of the 3rd quarter, with Elijah Pitts (father of Fox NFL sideline reporter Ron Pitts) scoring on a 5-yard run, and McGee catching a 13-yard pass from Starr. With 6:35 left in the game, Pitts scored again, a 1-yard run. Chandler made all 3 PATs. Final score: Packers 35, Chiefs 10.

Pat Summerall of CBS (which had the NFL's television contract) and George Ratterman of NBC (which had the AFL's), both former players, handled the postgame trophy celebration, forced to share a microphone. Packer coach and general manager (not a part-owner, but effectively controlling the team as if he were the owner) Vince Lombardi received the silver trophy made by Tiffany that would, just 4 years later, following his early death from cancer, bear his name. Starr was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Rozelle presents Lombardi with the Trophy

Despite both networks having aired the game live, neither CBS nor NBC has a complete videotape copy of the game. Videotape was expensive, and the game was simply taped over. Some pieces of videotape of the game have been found, and have been combined with surviving radio broadcasts and the footage that NFL Films (which, smartly, also got the AFL's permission to record their games) has of the game, to produce a full play-by-play.

This was also the only Super Bowl that was not a sellout: Although the Coliseum seated over 93,000 people (an exact figure is hard to pin down), only 61,946 people paid to see it. They paid $12 for any seat, about $87 in today's money. Even by today's regular-season NFL standards, that's cheap. (You want to see Super Bowl LI next month? Be prepared to pay over $1,000, no matter which source you go to.)


The Chiefs did recover, and after the Packers also won Super Bowl II over the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in the most stunning upset in pro football history, the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings to win Super Bowl IV on January 11, 1970. Clearly, Super Bowl III was an upset not because the NFL was so much better than the AFL, but because the Packers were so good.
Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and head coach Hank Stram,
and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, at Super Bowl IV,
at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans

From the Kansas City Chiefs' starting lineup in Super Bowl I:

* Deceased: Offensive tackle Jim Tyrer, depressed over a business failure, shot his wife and then killed himself in 1980; defensive tackle Buck Buchanan died in 1992; defensive end Jerry Mays died in 1994; head coach Hank Stram and punter Jerrel Wilson died in 2005; owner Lamar Hunt died in 2006; linebacker Sherrill Headrick died in 2008; center Wayne Frazier died in 2012; and general manager Jack Steadman and defensive end Chuck Hurston died in 2015.

* Still alive: Quarterback Len Dawson and kicker Mike Mercer are 81; linebacker E.J. Holub is 79; split end Chris Burford is about to turn 79; guard Curt Merz, tight end Fred Arbanas, safety Johnny Robinson and cornerback-turned-actor Fred "the Hammer" Williamson are 78; running back Curtis McLinton is 77; guard Ed Budde, defensive tackle Andy Rice, linebacker Bobby Bell, cornerback Willie Mitchell and safety Bobby Hunt are 76; offensive tackle Dave Hill is about to turn 76; flanker Otis Taylor is 74; and running back Mike Garrett (the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner at USC) is 72.

From the Green Bay Packers' starting lineup (plus Hornung and McGee):

* Deceased: Head coach and general manager Vince Lombardi died of cancer in 1970; defensive tackle Henry Jordan died of a heart attack while jogging in 1977; defensive tackle Ron Kostelnik died in 1993; linebacker Lee Roy Caffey died in 1994; running back Elijah Pitts, defensive end Lionel Aldridge and linebacker Ray Nitschke died in 1998; Max McGee, who entered the game early when Boyd Dowler was hurt, died in 2007; cornerback Bob Jeter died in 2008; placekicker and punter Don Chandler died in 2011; and guard Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston died in 2014.

* Still alive: Quarterback Bart Starr and offensive tackle Forrest Gregg are 83; offensive tackle Bob Skoronski and defensive end Willie Davis are 82; running backs Paul Hornung (who was injured and didn't play) and Jim Taylor are 81; guard Jerry Kramer is about to turn 81; safety Willie Wood is 80; flanker Boyd Dowler is 79 tight end Carroll Dale is 78; cornerback Herb Adderley is 77; safety Tom Brown is 76; tight end Marv Fleming and linebacker Dave Robinson are 75; and center Bill Curry is 74.

* Also still alive from the 1966-67 Packers are backup quarterback Zeke Bratkowski, 85; tight end Bill Anderson, 80; receiver William "Red" Mack, 79; cornerback Doug Hart, 77; center Ken Bowman, offensive tackle Steve Wright, receiver Bob Long, and defensive tackle Jim Weatherwax, all 74; running back and punter Donny Anderson, tight end Allen Brown, linebacker Phil Vandersea, and cornerback Dave Hathcock, all 73; and running back Jim Grabowski, 72. So that's 28 surviving members of the 1st team to win the Super Bowl.


* NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and AFL Commissioner Milt Woodard both died in 1996.

* Paul Christman, quarterback of the 1947 NFL Champion Chicago Cardinals, and color commentator for NBC, died of a heart attack in 1970, before any of the other major participants. Ray Scott, the voice of the Packers, who provided the 1st half play-by-play for CBS, died in 1998. Curt Gowdy, who did play-by-play for NBC, died in 2006. CBS color commentator Frank Gifford, the Hall of Fame running back for the New York Giants, died in 2015. Jack Whitaker, who provided their 2nd half play-by-play, is still alive, age 92.
Jack Whitaker, the last surviving broadcaster from Super Bowl I

* Halftime entertainer Al Hirt died in 1999.

* Referee Norm Schachter, who joined the NFL's officiating corps in 1954, would survive the 1967 NFL Championship Game in Green Bay, a.k.a. the Ice Bowl, and would also work at Super Bowls V and X, before retiring in 1975, died in 2004.
A referee with his own card?
Yes, Norm was that much of a legend.

* George Toma, groundskeeper for Kansas City's Athletics and Chiefs, whom Lamar Hunt lobbied Pete Rozelle to have run the groundskeeping for the game, continued to work for the Chiefs, and for MLB's Royals when they replaced the A's in 1969, until his retirement in 1999. The NFL has kept "The Sod God" on, and, barring a medical calamity, will, a few days after his 88th birthday, oversee the groundskeeping for Super Bowl LI.
Toma at Super Bowl 50

* Other people who have been to each of the 1st 50 Super Bowls: Norma Hunt, widow of Lamar and mother of current Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, and the only woman among the 16 who have seen all 50; sportswriters Dave Klein, Jerry Green and Jerry Izenberg; photographers John Biever, Walter Iooss Jr. and Mickey Palmer; and 8 fans: Don Crisman, Tom Henschel, Larry Jacobson, Larry McDonald, Lew Rapoport, Harvey Rothenberg, Alvin Schragis and Sylvan Schefler.
Crisman, of Maine, a New England Patriots fan;
Henschel, of Winfield, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan;
and Jacobson of San Francisco, a 49ers fan.

As far as I can tell, all 16 people who've been to the 1st 50 Super Bowls will be able to attend Super Bowl LI. I believe Iooss, 73, the great photographer for Sports Illustrated, is the youngest, making him the likeliest person to end up as the last survivor of the group.

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