The First Super Bowl
I’ve been a football fan my whole life. I’ll watch any game from Pop Warner to NFL. Growing up in Quincy, Massachusetts, many Thanksgiving mornings, I walked the two miles to Quincy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium to watch the rivalry game between Quincy and North Quincy High School. (Please take a look at my 2009 post about the Quincy vs. North Quincy rivalry games.)
In the days before the American Football League and the Boston Patriots were formed, we saw NFL games on Boston Television. Because New York was the closest NFL city, we saw a lot of the New York Giants on Boston television. Many Saturdays each fall, we could catch a college game on TV also. I managed to get to Boston to see a Boston University or Harvard game or two as well.
After I had been in the Navy for a few years, they stationed me in San Diego, California for three years. By then, the American Football League had been formed, and the Chargers were in San Diego. While we there, Helen and I went to quite a few Charger games and several San Diego State College Aztec games as well.
We were extremely excited to learn in 1966 that the two professional football leagues that had been competing for fans, players, television revenue, and pretty much everywhere except on the field, would finally play a game against each other on January 15, 1967, when the championship teams of the NFL and AFL would compete for the World Championship. The game to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was to be called the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Later, the game became known as “Super Bowl I.”
On that first “Super Bowl Sunday,” we settled in front of our 19” black and white television and watched the game on CBS in our National City, California, home.
The game was televised on both league’s affiliated networks: CBS televised the NFL games, and NBC the AFL games. According to Brian Flood of Fox News:
CBS’s version was called by Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker, and Frank Gifford, while Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman were in the booth for NBC. The game attracted a whopping 50 million total viewers between the two telecasts. The total population of the U.S. in 1967 was about 200 million — so approximately a quarter of the country watched, an early testament to the sport’s popularity.
Never being a fan of Curt Gowdy, after listening to him broadcast Boston Red Sox games on Boston radio in the 1950s we watched the CBS version. Now that we were San Diego Charger fans, we rooted for the AFL Kansas City Chiefs in the game. As predicted the Green Bay Packers won, but the Chiefs held their own in the game.
The following year, the second “AFL-NFL World Championship Game” had a very similar outcome when the NFL’s Packers defeated the AFL’s Oakland Raiders.
My all-time favorite Super Bowl game occurred a year later in Super Bowl III (the third “AFL–NFL Championship Game.”) That was the game that sealed the deal for the NFL – AFL merger. Joe Namath, the AFL champion New York Jets’ quarterback, guaranteed a victory over the 18-point favorite NFL champion Baltimore Colts. Namath’s prediction came true; the Jets won 16-7. We were elated!
Brian Flood of Fox News has an interesting story detailing why we never get to watch the videotape of the first Super Bowl at Fox News “The first Super Bowl was broadcast on two networks, but you’re not allowed to watch it today.” I suggest that you check it out!
I truly appreciate your interest!
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2 thoughts on “The First Super Bowl”
I, too was in San Diego in January of1967 and had the opportunity to accept two free! tickets to the game which was, as you have said in the L.A. Coliseum. My understanding was that the game was not selling all that well and a miniscule crowd in that cavernous L.A. Coliseum would have shown the TV viewers that there was an overall lack of interest.
I declined those tickets, preferring to watch the game at the bar in Bob Johnston’s Sports Palace on F Street. You can imagine what those ticket stubs would be worth to a collector today! Way to go, Stockton, good thinking.
Thanks for the comment, Bob!
Sometimes, I think of all the items I’ve discarded over the years, and wondered what they would be worth today. At least we have our memories.