Sixth Excerpt From: When It Was
Just a Game,
Remembering the First Super
By Harvey Frommer
A LISTEN! (turn up your speakers :)
January 11, 1967 Gene Ward writing in the New York Daily
News had declared:
fact, and to be brutally frank, this could wind up being labeled the
York Times sports
section headline on January 15, 1967 read:
Super Bowl: Football's Day of Decision Stirs Nation."
Los Angeles Times headline
Sunday – Here At Last!”
The United States of America at that time of the first
Super Bowl was
involved in a bloody and unpopular war in Vietnam. During the game an
feature President Lyndon B. encouraging the purchase of war bonds. On
front there was protest against the war and a surging civil rights
was a time when the
Louisville draft board turned back
Cassius Clay's appeal for exemption from the service on his plea that
he was a
Black Muslim minister.
year of 1967 the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, the
Jefferson Airplane, all made music. “Hair” had opened on Broadway. The
issue of Rolling Stone was published
priced at 25 cents. The last “Milton Berle Show” aired on TV. The
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was created. Seat belts were to
become a staple in automobiles.
Median household income was just
over $7,000. Unemployment was 3.8%. The average price for a gallon of
33 cents. A home cost on average $7,300. For a nickel one could
first class stamp. A ticket to a movie on average was $1.20. A gallon
was $1.03. A pack of cigarettes was about thirty cents. Life expectancy
the Friday before the game, the Green Bay
Packers arrived in Los Angeles. "If we lose it won't be because of our
physical condition or the field. KC will just beat us, “said Vince
The scene was finally set
for the playing of a football game that many were now calling “the
or the “Super Game. After the historic announcement of the merger of
football leagues, after months of bickering, backstabbing, bargaining
ballyhoo, it was finally almost Game Time.
MACCAMBRIDGE: I think for
Lamar Hunt, it must have been surreal to wake up on the morning of
1967 and get ready to go to a football game which he himself made
Without Lamar’s toughness and tenacity, you not only don't have the
also do not have had the expansion in the 1960s where the number of pro
football teams almost doubled.
STARR: On the morning of our game I woke up, took a quick shower and
downstairs to read the paper and have some breakfast. I
Max McGee and greeted him. He looked like he might need a
was wearing the same sports coat and slacks as the night before. Max
‘Hey, Bart,’ glanced at his watch and headed for the elevators.
A.M. sharp, the Packers, packed and poised and feeling some pressure
most would not admit it, took their seats on the chartered bus taking
their Los Angeles Sheraton-West Hotel. All was in order for the
the Coliseum. There was a lot of hustling and bustling about by writers
covered the team as they settled into seats.
LEA: Max McGee had returned to the hotel just in time for the team’s
He napped for an hour and then boarded the team bus for the Coliseum.
is Super Morning of Super Sunday, “an
upbeat Max McGee shouted out. We are all going out to the Super Bowl
and I am a
didn’t know at the time that he
had been out all night, but he made that very clear later. McGee was
There were some chuckles about that. There was some discussion.
last one to come aboard the bus was Coach
Vince Lombardi. He settled in. He sat in the front seat, right side.
of the bus were shut. The bus began to slowly move out.
a minute,” the Packer head man
told the driver.
up, moving into the aisle,
Lombardi called for the attention of his players. Then he slowly broke
muted soft shoe dance.
“Go coach, go!” some players encouraged him.
Lombardi explained that he did
what he did to loosen things up. “They were too tight,” he said.
CURRY: It was bright and sunny
and that seemed strange at that time of year. Getting on the bus it
everybody is behaving just like they always do. The players were not
bit taken aback by all the stuff that went on. Nobody behaved any
than normal. There was the regular normal joshing by the ones who
tended to be
funny like Hornung.
couple of guys on the bus were
discussing the selections for the Pro Bowl which was always a big deal
players. Somebody was chosen, somebody wasn’t. I remember Forrest Gregg
“Gosh, I never played very well in those things.”
And I wanted to say, “Yeah, but you’ve been in
10 in a row, Forrest!”
I’m just sitting there listening to all of
LANE: Going to the game there were a
couple of buses. In those days the local media were invited to travel
We had a number of people from our executive committee along. We were a
tight group. It was an awful lot riding on that game, and I think
a great deal of confidence that we could win the ballgame, but there
ROBINSON: I thought the game was never going to be that big. In fact, my wife wanted to come because she
said some day it was going to be bigger than the World Series.
told her, “It’s never
going to be bigger than the World Series, but come on out to California
foggy Sunday morning in Long Beach greeted the Kansas City Chiefs
stood around their bus, some hugging wives.
Chiefs were set to go directly from their Long Beach hotel to the
“On the ride to Los Angeles,”
Hank Stram said, “the team was quiet and preoccupied. Each player was
the game, of coming into the presence of greatness-- the Green Bay
Stram had made the point of repeating to his
players: "We're playing for every player, coach, official who has ever
been in the AFL. We have a strong purpose." Now he repeated that
Angeles Times assigned
four of its top
photographers to the contest. Art Rogers, Ben
Charles O’Rear were positioned on the
sidelines, cameras at
the ready with 35 millimeter black and white film.
Larry Sharkey and his
was in the press box. He had an overhead location to shoot
from with 70 millimeter black and white film.
Ground for the
gigantic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum had been broken on
21, 1921. Designed originally as a memorial to World War I veterans,
built at a
cost of $954,873,
May 1, 1923 on 18 acres in the
architectural style of art moderne.
Coliseum had a long history
of playing host to all manner of events including the 1932 Summer
1967, the USC Trojans first began playing there and have used the
since. After the Dodgers left Brooklyn at the end of the 1957 season,
played at the Coliseum as the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1958 to 1961.
Now it was going to be the environment for the
football game of all football games.
(Autographed, mint, discounted copies of WHEN
IT WAS JUST A GAME are available direct from the author)
by acclaimed sports author
and oral historian Harvey Frommer, with an introduction by pro football
Famer Frank Gifford, When It Was Just a Game tells the fascinating
story of the
ground-breaking AFL–NFL World Championship Football game played on
1967: Packers vs. Chiefs. Filled with new insights, containing
the unpublished memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram,
history from many who were at the game—media, players, coaches,
is mainly in the words of those who lived it and saw it go on to become
Super Bowl, the greatest sports attraction the world has ever known.
photographs and drawings help bring the event to life.
Harvey Frommer is in his 40th
year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist,
of 43 sports books including the classics: best-selling New York City
1947-1957 and best-selling “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball. He also
the acclaimed Remembering Yankee Stadium and best-selling Remembering
Park. The prolific Frommer is working on “the Ultimate Yankee book” to
published in 2017.