11 True Things About Super Bowl I that You Didn't Know
Flying men at halftime? Players smoking cigarettes during the game? And not even a sellout? Super Bowl I was a product of a different time.
1. It Wasn't Even Called the Super Bowl
The National Football League (founded in 1920) and the upstart American Football League (founded in 1960) were bitter rivals -- but even they realized a championship game between the champions of both leagues would be good for the sport. What would become Super Bowl I, played on January 17, 1967 between the NFL's Green Bay Packers and the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
2. It Wasn't a Sellout!
About 33,000 seats in the 94,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum went unsold. Perhaps the steep $12-per-ticket price kept fans away. As a result, the game was blacked out in the Los Angeles viewing area.
3. The Game Was Broadcast By 2 Networks
Oddly, both CBS (which broadcast NFL games) and NBC (which broadcast AFL games) telecast the game. Their combined audience was estimated at 100 million people in the United States -- which in 1967 was about half of the country. Above: NBC's Paul Christman (left) and CBS's Frank Gifford.
5. Both CBS and NBC Erased Their Game Tapes!!!
Incredible as it might seem today, in the 1960s, television networks regularly erased tapes of their live events. For decades, the broadcasts of Super Bowl I were thought to be lost. The NFL has "recreated" a broadcast using footage captured by their sideline NFL Films cameras and the radio broadcast. Recently, a tape made by a North Carolina man on two-inch Scotch tapes in his home back in 1967 has been unearthed. The tape of the broadcast is incomplete -- it's missing half of the third quarter and the man attempted to pause during commercials, sometimes missing some game action. We can't see it because the man's surviving son and the NFL are in a legal battle.
6. 1st Super Bowl TD: Max McGee
The Packers wide receiver got the scoring going finishing off an 80-yard, six-play drive with a 37-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bart Starr in the first quarter to put Green Bay up 7-0. McGee had replaced starter Boyd Dowler, who was injured earlier in the drive.
McGee did not expect to play in the game and he violated his team's curfew policy and spent the night before the Super Bowl out on the town. The next morning he told Dowler, "I hope you don't get hurt. I'm not in very good shape," alluding to his hangover. McGee had to borrow a teammate's helmet because he had not brought his own out of the locker room. True story!
7. Flying Men at the Halftime Show!
In a hint at the behemoth extravaganza Super Bowl halftime shows would become, Super Bowl I featured featured trumpeter Al Hirt, the marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University, 300 pigeons, 10,000 balloons and a flying demonstration by the hydrogen-peroxide-propelled Bell Rocket Air Men!
8. Weirdest Sight: A Quarterback Smoking!
How did Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson calm his nerves at halftime? By lighting up a cigarette, of course. Different times...
9. Nice Payday
The Green Bay Packers players were each paid a salary of $15,000 as the winning team. The Chiefs were paid $7,500 each. Compare that to Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Players on the winning team will earn $102,000 bonuses, while those on the losing team will take away $51,000.
10. The Coach Who Won the Game Had the Trophy Named After Him
Green Bay beat Kansas City 35-10 and coach Vince Lombardi won the first "World Professional Football Championship" trophy. Lombardi and the Packers won Super Bowl II as well, and in 1970 it was officially renamed The Lombardi Trophy after his death from cancer.
11. Legacies Miles Apart
The Packers no only won Super Bowl I, but also II, both with quarterback Bart Starr (above). Thirty years later Brett Favre would lead the Packers to another title, and another 15 years later, Aaron Rodgers would secure a fourth title for the franchise. The Chiefs and quarterback Len Dawson would win Super Bowl IV.