It WAs Just a Game
the First Super Bowl
By Harvey Frommer,
Foreword by Frank Gifford
This is a well-executed retelling of the
game and its surroundings from all points of view: officials, coaches,
the media, and even fans. Among the narrative’s best parts are the late
detailed recollections from an unpublished manuscript made available to
author from Stram’s son. Verdict: Consistently
fascinating, this book will appeal to all football fans.—Library
Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s suggestions for the name of the new game
"The Big One." That name never caught on. “Pro Bowl,” was another
Rozelle idea. Had the name been adopted there would have been confusion
that was the name used for the NFL’s All Star game.
Another name was floated “World Series of
Football.” That died quickly. It was deemed too imitative of baseball’s
was no Super Bowl Committee. That some said was part of the problem.
also a game that had no location that had no name.
That, too, was part of the problem.
was Rozelle’s idea to call the contest,
The AFL-NFL World Championship Game. (Los
Angeles Times February 03, 2007)
name for the game was official; however,
it never took off.
It was too cumbersome, a mouthful, no
good for newspaper headlines.
DOWLER: We thought
it was kind of funny they called it the Super Bowl; that was a feature
media more than anybody else. But the AFL-NFL Championship Bowl Game,
that’s a lot more words than necessary. Super Bowl is a lot more
HUNT: The name AFL-NFL championship game was too unwieldy, hard to get
days after all the hullabaloo over
New York Times
sports columnist Arthur Daley wrote about what the future
held in store: the “new super duper football game for what amounts to
championship of the world."
Los Angeles Times reported
on September 4, 1966 that the game was being "referred to by some as
The New York Times sports
section’s lead story that same day
headlined: "NFL Set to Open Season That Will End in Super Bowl."
The Washington Post
a week later reported: "The brash upstarts who will tackle Goliath in
professional football's ultimate production, a highly appealing 'Super
that promises extra pizzazz at seasons’ end."
HUNT, JR: My parents got divorced, and my
dad who was
the head of the American Football League would come over and pick us
up. And I
remember showing him the Super Ball, the “whammy” super ball and
look, this will bounce over the house, this ball.”
You know my dad was not going to be
preoccupied with toys that were given to children. You know, he might
bounced the ball. We just remember demonstrating it.
But then what
happened going forward is my dad was in an owner’s meeting. They were
figure out what to call the last game, the championship game. I don’t know if he had the ball with him as
some reports suggest.
My dad said, “Well,
we need to come up with a name, something like the “Super Bowl.”
then he said, “Actually, that’s not a very good name.
We can come up with something better.”
“Super Bowl” stuck in the media and word of mouth.
kind of came out of my dad’s mouth. What do you want to
call it? Power of suggestion or just an idea or whatever, it stuck. And
inspiration was that Super Ball. I feel
blessed to be the son of a guy who really came up with the name.
Bowl” was probably inspired
by his contact with the Super Ball.
MCNUTT, III: I became very close
friends with the Hunt children. We would go over to Dallas and I would
with that ball with them. We were just amazed at this ball. It was the
toy of its day.
Wham-O Super Ball was introduced in
by Norm Stingley, a chemical engineer at the Bettis Rubber Company in
California, the ball was made of Zectron. The “Super Ball” could bounce
higher than any regular rubber ball. Millions of the balls were sold
remained a craze through the 1960s.
ZIMMERMAN: The National Football League hierarchy frowned on the term
Bowl.” But the fans and the media like it and used it and Super Bowl
the name to represent professional football’s championship game.
HUNT: It was something else that a toy a child was playing with could
inspired the name
IZENBERG: The afternoon of the merger the switchboard rang at the NFL
and the guy said, “I want 20 tickets for the title game.”
They said, “We don’t
even know where it’s going to be.”
And he said, “I
don’t care, I want to buy it right now!”
championship game was not an afterthought to the merger. They were
get games played. Even in the merger they negotiated things like, “When
play exhibition games against each other?”
with the 1966 pro football season at full throttle, a site for the
the AFL-NFL Championship Game scheduled for January 8, 1967 still had
selected. There was agreement by all the members of the NFL site
Committee that the game be played in a warm weather location.
Growing up in Southern California,
Pete Rozelle knew January weather there was what could generally be
He also knew that comfort for the crowd and a game that could televised
were crucial. The native Californian also knew that a field where
solid footing would better showcase the talents of all who played in
His reasoning was that a Southern California venue would be fair to all
field that was not frozen, not impacted by weather.
Daley of the New York Times
agreed: "Under no conditions should
this classic-to-be ever be entrusted to the whims of the weatherman. By
mid-January, it's possible that snow in Green Bay or Buffalo might be
higher than the goalposts."
prospective sites for the game to be played at included: the Rose Bowl,
Coliseum, the Astrodome, Rice Stadium in Houston, the Sugar Bowl in New
Orleans. A few other sites in Texas, Miami and New Orleans also came
Committee representing the Rose Bowl
objected to its use for a professional football game. Their argument
to do that would lessen
the prestige of their long running enterprise. However, as time for the
of that first world championship football game drew closer, Pasadena’s
Council tried to re-enter negotiations with the NFL. It was too late in
game. Anaheim Stadium came on
the scene - -also too late.
December 1, 1966, after much wrangling,
false starts, and all kinds of jockeying about -- the awarding of the
the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was announced. Two weeks later news
that NBC and CBS had each signed a four year deal,
a $9.5 million package to telecast the
November 7th, the Chiefs defeated the Chargers 24-14 giving them the
to the AFL West crown. What made the game unique was that Pete Rozelle
his first ever American Football League game.
clinching of a
deal to merge was not official until the NFL received a special
exemption from Congress. Rozelle, driven and charming at the same time,
a bill through Congress making legal single-network contracts for pro
leagues. There would now be a league-wide agreement replacing the
packages of 12 NFL teams.
Some Washington, DC legislators had claimed
merger would make for an NFL monopoly. There was much lobbying,
and promises broken. Finally, helped by a critical vote by Louisiana Senator
the NFL was given
antitrust exemption. What clinched the deal was a promise by the NFL
next expansion franchise would be located in Louisiana. That’s how
Saints came marching in.
the scrambling and shuffling resulted in
the creation of never-before-staged TV doubleheader on New Year’s Day.
Championship Game from Buffalo was scheduled for 1 P.M, ET. The NFL
Championship was slotted in to start at 4 P.M., ET, from Dallas.
was not until the end of December that the
league formally announced that the AFL-NFL World Championship game
played at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The date of the game was changed
January 8th to January 15th.
STRAM: The AFL had been lobbying for a championship game from the
since we had nothing to lose. The NFL had resisted that idea because
everything to lose. But by 1966 the difference in quality of the two
had narrowed to the point where a playoff game became inevitable.
name “Super Bowl”
was not officially used until the third championship game. The first
1967 was officially known as “The NFL-AFL Championship Game.”
players referred to the first and second games in 1967 and 1968 as the
Bowl.” And that it became.
Written by acclaimed sports author and oral
Harvey Frommer, with an intro by pro football Hall of Famer Frank
It Was Just a Game tells the fascinating story of the
World Championship Football game played on January 15, 1967: Packers
Chiefs. Filled with new insights, containing commentary from the
memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, featuring oral history
who were at the game-media, players, coaches, fans-the book is mainly
words of those who lived it and saw it go on to become the Super Bowl,
greatest sports attraction the world has ever known. Archival
drawings help bring the event to life.
Frommer is in his 39th year of writing books. A noted oral historian
journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics:
“New York City Baseball, 1947-1957″ and best-selling “Shoeless Joe and
Baseball,” his acclaimed Remembering Yankee Stadium was published in
best-selling Remembering Fenway Park was published to acclaim in 2011.
Frommer mint condition collectible sports
books autographed and discounted are available always from the author.
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