WHEN IT WAS JUST A GAME;
THE FIRST SUPER BOWL
By Harvey Frommer
Number 50 –
almost upon us, it seems like looking back on the mythic, epic,
one is in order. My latest labor of love When
It Was Just a Game has been getting lots of exposure. Here for
enjoyment is just a piece of the action:
Pete Rozelle’s suggestions for the name of the new game was “The Big
name never caught on. “Pro Bowl” was another Rozelle idea. Had the name
adopted there would have been confusion, for that was the name used for
NFL’s All-Star Game. Another name floated was “World Series of
died quickly after being deemed too imitative of baseball’s Fall
was no Super Bowl Committee, which some said was part of the
problem. There was also a game that had no location and no name. That,
part of the problem.
was Rozelle’s idea to call the contest the AFL–NFL World
Championship Game. While the name was made official, 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
Super Bowl; that was a feature of the media more than
But the AFL–NFL Championship Bowl Game, yeah, that’s a lot
words than necessary. Super Bowl is a lot more practical.
HUNT: Th e name AFL–NFL Championship Game was
unwieldy, hard to get straight.
days after the hullabaloo about the merger, New York Times sports
columnist Arthur Daley wrote about what the future had in store: the
duper football game for what amounts to the championship of the world.”
Los Angeles Times reported on September 4, 1966, that
the game was being
to by some as the Super Bowl.”
The New York Times sports
section’s lead story that same day headlined, “NFL Set to Open Season
End in Super Bowl.”
week later, the Washington Post reported, “The brash
upstarts who will tackle Goliath in professional football’s ultimate
production, a highly appealing ‘Super Bowl’ that promises extra pizzazz
HUNT JR: My parents got divorced, and my dad would
over and pick us up. And I remember showing him the Super
the “Whammy” super ball, and saying, “Hey look, this will
over the house, this ball.”
know my dad was not going to be preoccupied with toys
were given to children. You know, he might have bounced the
We just remember demonstrating it.
then what happened going forward is my dad was in an
meeting. They were trying to figure out what to call the
the championship game. I don’t know if he had the ball
as some reports suggest.
dad said, “Well, we need to come up with a name, something
the “Super Bowl.”
then he said, “Actually, that’s not a very good name. We can
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
it? Power of suggestion or just an idea or whatever, it
inspiration was that Super Ball. I feel blessed to be the
son of guy
really came up with the name.
MCNUTT III: I became very close friends with the Hunt
children. We would go over to Dallas, and I would play with that ball
them. We were just amazed at this ball. It was the most
of its day.
Wham-O Super Ball was introduced in 1965. Invented by Norm
Stingley, a chemical engineer at the Bettis Rubber Company in Whittier,
California, the ball was made of Zectron. The “Super Ball” could bounce
times higher than any regular rubber ball. Millions were sold, and it
a craze through the 1960s.
ZIMMERMAN: The National Football League hierarchy
on the term “Super Bowl,” but the fans and the media
and used it, and Super Bowl would become the name to
football’s championship game.
HUNT: It was something else that a toy a child was
could have inspired the name.
IZENBERG: The afternoon of the merger, the switchboard
at the NFL offices, and the guy said, “I want 20 tickets
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!”
discounted copies of WHEN IT WAS JUST A GAME are available direct from
Written by acclaimed
sports author and oral historian Harvey
Frommer, with an introduction by
pro football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford,
When It Was Just a Game tells the fascinating story of the
AFL–NFL World Championship Football game played on January 15, 1967:
vs. Chiefs. Filled with new insights, containing commentary from the
unpublished memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, featuring
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.
Dr. Harvey Frommer is in
his 40th year of writing books. A
noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 43 sports
including the classics: best-selling New York City Baseball, 1947-1957
best-selling “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball. He also authored the
Remembering Yankee Stadium and best-selling Remembering Fenway Park.
prolific Frommer is working on “the Ultimate Yankee book” to be
published in 2017.