Five Things You Didn't Know About Super Bowl I

NFL Network will re-air Super Bowl I this Friday night at 7 p.m.

012116-SuperBowlI-ia.jpg

Super Bowl I will re-air on the NFL Network this Friday evening at 7 p.m.

5. "Super Bowl I" was not originally called the "Super Bowl"

Back in 1967, the AFL and NFL were still separate entities. As part of the 1966 agreement that the two leagues would officially merge as one in 1970, they would still play a championship game between the two leagues from 1966 to 1970, then only referred to as the "AFL-NFL World Championship Game."

"If you notice on some of the publications, you'll see things like 'World Championship Game,'" said Chiefs historian Bob Moore. "[Commissioner] Pete Rozelle didn't really want to call the game, didn't want it to be known as the 'Super Bowl' and thought it was kind of corny. In fact, he originally thought about it to be called the Pro Bowl, which it couldn't be called because they already had that. They also wanted to call it the World Series of Professional Football, which goes to show you the power that baseball still had at that particular period.'"

It was Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt who coined the term "Super Bowl," which obviously, eventually stuck.

"Norma, his wife, had purchased a number of these Super Balls for their kids and he figured he must have been thinking about that at the time, but quickly by the end of the game, and by the beginning of the next year, 'Super Bowl' was it. Then the Roman numerals also came up. Roman numerals only came up because Lamar believed the idea of designating the game with Roman numerals made the game even more of an event, which I think it did."

012116-SuperBowlI-ia2.jpg

4. More than 32,000 empty seats

"Super Bowl I" was played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was capable of seating more than 90,000 people. But the attendance of "Super Bowl I" was only 61,948.

"You have to realize that attendance at the games as we look at it today isn't anything at all like we think of games as existed back then," Moore said. "You weren't getting 75 to 80,000 people a game. The stadiums weren't as large and playing at the Coliseum would have been an incredibly large stadium at its time, much more so than any other stadiums in the rest of the league, so I don't think it's that big a surprise …That was an Olympic stadium for one thing. You're further off the field. The end zones are further away. It captured the imagination of the sports-loving public, but you just didn't have those kinds of crowds back then. They didn't get those kind of crowds."

012116-SuperBowlI-ia3.jpg

3. There were distinctive balls used based upon who was on offense

As stated in point No. 5, the "Super Bowl," from 1966 to 1970, was a meeting of teams from two different leagues, meaning in some instances, two separate rulebooks and thus, two separate types of footballs.

"The AFL ball was a little bit thinner, which probably prompted all the throwing," Moore said. "It was easier to throw, and if you go back and talk to some of the people who used to watch the AFL and liked it, even players that played with it later in the NFL, players like Terry Bradshaw. They loved that ball. They thought that was a great ball because they could sling it around."

The NFL used a style of football called "The Duke."

"The NFL ball was a little bit fatter," Moore added. "It kind of played into the idea that the NFL was a little bit more traditional in the way they played the game, which was a lot of running and a much more physical game. When they (the Packers) went on offense, they played with their ball. When the AFL team (the Chiefs) went on offense, they played with their ball. All these things were part of what happens when you have two rival leagues."

012116-SuperBowlI-ia-3.jpg

2. "Super Bowl I" used colored end zones on a grand stage for the first time

Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt was a very big proponent of colored end zones, which were used for the first time during "Super Bowl I."

"If you look at early football in the '60s in the NFL, the end zones were a little bit more bland," Moore said. "The idea of colored end zones wasn't anything that unusual to the Chiefs and Lamar Hunt. Lamar was a person who liked to promote a lot of the color and pageantry of his games and of the sport and consequently, the AFL did so too."

George Toma, the groundskeeper in Kansas City for football and baseball, painted the end zones for the game.

"Part of the game-day activities with the Chiefs were painted end zones, so to see the end zones painted colorful [made it] distinguishable between the AFL and the NFL. It was something that the NFL was becoming aware of and would eventually take place. Toma, at that point, would become the groundskeeper for the Super Bowls from that point on."

012116-SuperBowlI-ia4.jpg

1. "Super Bowl I" aired on two different television networks

Moore still says to this day that the key to AFL's existence and importance in the eyes of the NFL was the television contract with NBC. With the NFL having its contract with CBS, this meant that there would be two separate stations with rights to cover a game that featured both leagues, "Super Bowl I."

"Both networks had their own broadcasters who did a game every week and so, you've got the two networks up there broadcasting the game," Moore said. "They weren't going to more or less just give in and let the NFL do it, for example. So the AFL was going to do it as well. It was NBC and CBS.

"It would almost be looking at like a preseason game today because our preseason games today have two different stations broadcasting the games as you go about your preseason schedules."

One of the more interesting parts of the game happened as the second half began.

"NBC missed the second half kickoff because it was conducting an interview with Bob Hope, so Green Bay had to do it again," Moore said.

Extremely doubtful that would ever happen in today's Super Bowl as we know it.

Super Bowl I will re-air on the NFL Network this Friday evening at 7 p.m.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising