Super Bowl I
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The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, later known as Super Bowl I and referred to in some contemporary reports as the Supergame, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35–10.
Coming into this game, considerable animosity remained between the AFL and NFL, thus the teams representing the two rival leagues (Kansas City and Green Bay, respectively) felt pressure to win. The Chiefs posted an 11–2–1 record during the 1966 AFL season, and defeated the Buffalo Bills, 31–7, in 1966 AFL Championship Game. The Packers finished the 1966 NFL season at 12–2, and defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34–27, in the 1966 NFL Championship Game. Still, many sports writers and fans believed any team in the older NFL was vastly superior to any club in the upstart AFL, so expected Green Bay would blow out Kansas City.
The first half of Super Bowl I was competitive, as the Chiefs out-gained the Packers in total yards, 181–164, to come within 14–10 at halftime. But Green Bay safety Willie Wood's 50-yard interception return early in the third quarter sparked the Packers to score 21 unanswered points in the second half. Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception, was named Super Bowl MVP.
It is the only Super Bowl to have been simulcast in the United States by two networks: NBC had the rights to nationally televise AFL games, while CBS held the rights to broadcast NFL games; both networks were allowed to televise the game. The first Super Bowl's entertainment largely consisted of college bands, instead of featuring popular singers and musicians as in more recent Super Bowls.
- 1 Background
- 2 Television
- 3 Ceremonies and entertainment
- 4 Game summary
- 5 Final statistics
- 6 Starting lineups
- 7 Officials
- 8 See also
- 9 References
When the NFL began its 40th season in 1960, it had a new and unwanted rival: the American Football League. The NFL had successfully fended off several other rival leagues in the past, and so the older league initially ignored the new upstart and its eight teams, figuring it would be made up of nothing but NFL rejects who fans would not bother watching over the NFL itself. But unlike the NFL's prior rivals, the AFL survived and prospered, in part by signing "NFL rejects" who turned out to be highly talented players the older league had badly misjudged. Soon the NFL and AFL found themselves locked in a massive bidding war for the top free agents and prospects coming out of college. Originally, there was a tacit agreement between the two not to raid each other by signing players who were already under contract with a team from an opposing league. This policy broke down in early 1966 when the NFL's New York Giants signed Pete Gogolak, a placekicker who was under contract with the AFL's Buffalo Bills. The AFL owners considered this an "act of war" and immediately struck back, signing several contracted NFL players, including eight of their top quarterbacks.
Eventually the NFL had enough and started negotiations with the AFL in an attempt to resolve the issue. As a result of the negotiations, the leagues signed a merger agreement on June 8, 1966. Among the details, both leagues agreed to share a common draft in order to end the bidding war for the top college players, as well as merge into a single league after the 1969 season. In addition, an "AFL-NFL World Championship Game" was established, in which the AFL and NFL champions would play against each other in a game at the end of the season to determine which league had the best team.
Los Angeles was not awarded the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game game until six weeks prior to the kickoff; likewise, the date of the game was not set until around then. Since the AFL Championship Game originally was scheduled for Monday, December 26, and the NFL Championship Game for Sunday, January 1 (the reverse of the situation following the 1960 season), the "new" championship game was suggested to be played Sunday, January 8. Eventually, an unprecedented TV doubleheader was held on January 1, with the AFL Championship Game telecast from Buffalo starting at 1 p.m. and the NFL Championship Game telecast from Dallas starting at 4 p.m.
Coming into this "first" game, considerable animosity still existed between the two rival leagues, with both of them putting pressure on their respective champions to trounce the other and prove each league's dominance in professional football. Still, many sports writers and fans believed the game was a mismatch, and any team from the long-established NFL was far superior to the best team from the upstart AFL. The Green Bay Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs, with the Packers winning 35–10.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs entered the game after recording an 11–2–1 mark during the regular season. In the AFL Championship Game, they beat the Buffalo Bills, 31–7.
Kansas City's high-powered offense led the AFL in points scored (448) and total rushing yards (2,274). Their trio of running backs, Mike Garrett (801 yards), Bert Coan (521 yards), and Curtis McClinton (540 yards) all ranked among the top-ten rushers in the AFL. Quarterback Len Dawson was the top-rated passer in the AFL, completing 159 of 284 (56%) of his passes for 2,527 yards and 26 touchdowns. Wide receiver Otis Taylor provided the team with a great deep threat by recording 58 receptions of 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns. Receiver Chris Burford added 58 receptions for 758 yards and eight touchdowns., and tight end Fred Arbanas, who had 22 catches for 305 yards and four touchdowns, was one of six Chiefs offensive players who were named to the All-AFL team.
The Chiefs also had a strong defense, with All-AFL players Jerry Mays and Buck Buchanan anchoring their line. Linebacker Bobby Bell, who was also named to the All-AFL team, was great at run stopping and pass coverage. The strongest part of their defense, though, was their secondary, led by All-AFL safeties Johnny Robinson and Bobby Hunt, who each recorded 10 interceptions, and defensive back Fred Williamson, who recorded four. Their head coach was Hank Stram.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers were an NFL dynasty turning around what had been a losing team just eight years earlier. The team had posted an NFL-worst 1–10–1 record in 1958 before legendary head coach Vince Lombardi was hired in January 1959. Lombardi was determined to build a winning team. During the preseason, he signed Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston, who had been cut from three other teams, but ended up becoming an All-Pro left guard for Green Bay. Lombardi also made a big trade with the Cleveland Browns that brought three players to the team who would become cornerstones of the defense: linemen Henry Jordan, Willie Davis, and Bill Quinlan.
Lombardi's hard work paid off, and the Packers improved to a 7–5 regular season record in 1959. They surprised the league during the following year by making it all the way to the 1960 NFL Championship Game. Although the Packers lost 17–13 to the Philadelphia Eagles, they had sent a clear message that they were no longer losers. Green Bay went on to win NFL Championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, and 1966.
Packers veteran quarterback Bart Starr was the top-rated quarterback in the NFL for 1966, and won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award, completing 156 of 251 (62.2%) passes for 2,257 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. His top targets were wide receivers Boyd Dowler and Carroll Dale, who combined for 63 receptions for 1,336 yards. Fullback Jim Taylor was the team's top rusher with 705 yards, and also caught 41 passes for 331 yards. (Before the season, Taylor had informed the team that instead of returning to the Packers in 1967, he would become a free agent and sign with the expansion New Orleans Saints. Lombardi, infuriated at what he considered to be Taylor's disloyalty, refused to speak to Taylor the entire season.) The team's starting halfback, Paul Hornung, was injured early in the season, but running back Elijah Pitts did a good job as a replacement, gaining 857 combined rushing and receiving yards. The Packers' offensive line was also big reason for the team's success, led by All-Pro guards Jerry Kramer and Thurston, along with Forrest Gregg.
Green Bay also had a superb defense, which displayed its talent on the final drive of the NFL Championship Game, stopping the Dallas Cowboys on four consecutive plays starting on the Packers 2-yard line to win the game. Lionel Aldridge had replaced Quinlan, but Jordan and Davis still anchored the defensive line; linebacker Ray Nitschke excelled at run stopping and pass coverage, while the secondary was led by defensive backs Herb Adderley and Willie Wood. Wood was another example of how Lombardi found talent in players that nobody else could see. Wood had been a quarterback in college and was not drafted by an NFL team. When Wood joined the Packers in 1960, he was converted to a free safety, and went on to make the All-Pro team 9 times in his 12-year career.
Super Bowl pregame news and notes
Many people considered it fitting that the Chiefs and the Packers would be the teams to play in the first ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Kansas City owner Lamar Hunt had founded the AFL, while Green Bay was widely considered one of the better teams in NFL history (even if they could not claim to be founding members of their own league, as the Packers joined the NFL in 1921, a year after the league's formation). Lombardi was under intense pressure from the entire NFL to make sure the Packers not only won the game, but preferably won big to demonstrate the superiority of the NFL. CBS announcer Frank Gifford, who interviewed Lombardi prior to the game, said Lombardi was so nervous, "he held onto my arm and he was shaking like a leaf. It was incredible." The Chiefs saw this game as an opportunity to show they were good enough to play against any NFL team. One player who was really looking forward to competing in this game was Len Dawson, who had spent three years as a backup in the NFL before joining the Chiefs. However, the Chiefs were also nervous. Linebacker E. J. Holub said, "the Chiefs were scared to death. Guys in the tunnel were throwing up."
In the week prior to the game, Chiefs cornerback Fred "The Hammer" Williamson garnered considerable publicity by boasting he would use his "hammer" – forearm blows to the head – to destroy the Packers' receivers, stating, "Two hammers to (Boyd) Dowler, one to (Carroll) Dale should be enough." His prediction turned out to be partially correct as Dowler was knocked out of the game early in the first quarter. However, Willamson himself was knocked out cold and carried off the field on a stretcher near the end of the game.
The two teams played with their respective footballs from each league; the Chiefs used the AFL ball by Spalding, and the Packers played with the NFL ball by Wilson.
This game is the only Super Bowl to have been broadcast in the United States by two television networks simultaneously (no other NFL game was subsequently carried nationally on more than one network until December 29, 2007, when the New England Patriots faced the New York Giants on NBC, CBS, and the NFL Network). At the time, NBC held the rights to nationally televise AFL games while CBS had the rights to broadcast NFL games. Both teams were allowed to cover the game. During the week, tensions flared between the staffs of the two networks, who each wanted to win the ratings war, to the point where a fence was built between the CBS and NBC trucks.
Each network used its own announcers: Ray Scott (doing play-by-play for the first half), Jack Whitaker (doing play-by-play for the second half) and Frank Gifford provided commentary on CBS, while Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman were on NBC.
Super Bowl I was the only Super Bowl in history that was not a sellout in terms of attendance, despite a TV blackout in the Los Angeles area (at the time, NFL games were required to be blacked out in the market of origin, even if it was a neutral site game and if it sold out). Of the 94,000-seat capacity in the Coliseum, 33,000 went unsold. Days before the game, local newspapers printed editorials about what they viewed as a then-exorbitant $12 price for tickets, and wrote stories about how to pirate the signal from TV stations outside the Los Angeles area.
All known broadcast tapes which recorded the game in its entirety were subsequently wiped (recorded over with different content) by both NBC and CBS to save costs. The networks commonly wiped sports tapes at the time, not knowing how important the Super Bowl would become in future. This has prevented studies comparing each network's respective telecast.
For many years, only two small samples of the telecasts were known to have survived, showing Max McGee's opening touchdown and Jim Taylor's first touchdown run. Both were shown in 1991 on HBO's Play by Play: A History of Sports Television and on the Super Bowl XXV pre-game show.
In January 2011, a recording of the CBS telecast was reported to have been found in a Pennsylvania attic and restored by the Paley Center for Media in New York. The two-inch color videotape is the most complete version of the broadcast yet discovered, missing only the halftime show and most of the third quarter.
NFL Films had a camera crew present, and retains a substantial amount of film footage in its archives, some of which has been released for home video and cable presentations. One such presentation was the NFL's Greatest Games episode about this Super Bowl, entitled The Spectacle of a Sport (also the title of the Super Bowl I highlight film).
Ceremonies and entertainment
The first Super Bowl halftime show featured American trumpeter Al Hirt, and the marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University. (At least one source incorrectly lists the University of Michigan Band.)
A group of majorettes, the Los Angeles Ramettes, performed for the pre-game of the first Super Bowl,and after each of the quarters. The LA Ramettes performed in the LA Coliseum for all the Rams home football games, and they were well prepared to march and twirl for the Super Bowl.
The famed Anaheim High School Drill Team performed pre-game and also carried the banners representing all the NFL/AFL football teams. While marching in conjunction with the University Of Arizona(U.A.), which created a physical outline of the continental United States at the center of the field, the Anaheim "High Steppers" placed their banners at the respective teams geographical location within the U.S. profile created by the U.A. Marching Band.
During the game, the official balls from both leagues were used - when the Chiefs were on offense, the official AFL football was used, and when the Packers were on offense, the official NFL ball was used. Even the officiating crew was made up of a combination of AFL and NFL referees, with the NFL's Norm Schachter as the head referee. After both teams traded punts on their first possessions of the game, the Packers jumped out to an early 7–0 lead, driving 80 yards in six plays. On the last play, Bart Starr threw a pass to reserve receiver Max McGee, who had replaced injured starter Boyd Dowler earlier in the drive. McGee slipped past Chiefs cornerback Willie Mitchell, made a one-handed catch at the 23-yard line, and then took off for a 37-yard touchdown reception. On their ensuing drive, the Chiefs moved the ball to Green Bay's 33-yard line, but kicker Mike Mercer missed a 40-yard field goal.
Early in the second quarter, Kansas City marched 66 yards in six plays, featuring a 31-yard reception by receiver Otis Taylor, to tie the game on a seven-yard pass to Curtis McClinton from quarterback Len Dawson, but the Packers responded on their next drive, advancing 73 yards down the field and scoring on fullback Jim Taylor's 14-yard touchdown run with the team's famed "Power Sweep" play. Dawson was sacked for an eight-yard loss on the first play of the Chiefs next drive, but he followed it up with four consecutive completions for 58 yards, including a 27-yarder to Chris Burford, setting up Mercer's 31-yard field goal to make the score 14–10 at the end of the half.
At halftime, the Chiefs appeared to have a chance to win. Many people watching the game were surprised how close the score was and how well the AFL's champions were playing. Kansas City actually outgained the Packers in total yards, 181–164, and had 11 first downs compared to the Packers' 9. The Chiefs were exuberant at halftime. Hank Stram said later, "I honestly thought we would come back and win it." The Packers were disappointed with the quality of their play in the first half. "The coach was concerned", said defensive end Willie Davis later. Lombardi told them the game plan was sound, but that they had to tweak some things and execute better.
On their first drive of the second half, the Chiefs advanced to their own 49-yard line. But on a third-down pass play, a heavy blitz by linebackers Dave Robinson and Lee Roy Caffey rushed Dawson's throw, and the ball was intercepted by Willie Wood, who then returned it 50 yards to Kansas City's five-yard line, "the biggest play of the game," wrote Starr later. On their first play after the turnover, running back Elijah Pitts scored on a five-yard touchdown run to give the Packers a 21–10 lead.
The Packers defense would then dominate the Chiefs offense for the rest of the game, only allowing them to cross midfield once, and for just one play. The Chiefs were forced to deviate from their game plan, and that hurt them. The Chiefs' offense totaled 12 yards in the third quarter, and Dawson was held to five of 12 second-half pass completions for 59 yards.
Meanwhile, Green Bay forced Kansas City to punt from their own two-yard line after sacking Dawson twice and got the ball back with good field position on their own 44. McGee subsequently caught three passes for 40 yards on a 56-yard drive that ended with his 13-yard touchdown reception. Midway through the fourth quarter, Starr completed a 25-yard pass to Carroll Dale and a 37-yard strike to McGee, moving the ball to the Chiefs 18-yard line. Four plays later, Pitts scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run to close out the scoring, giving the Packers the 35–10 win. Also in the fourth quarter, Fred Williamson, who had boasted about his "hammer" prior to the game, was knocked out when his head collided with running back Donny Anderson's knee, and then suffered a broken arm when Chiefs linebacker Sherrill Headrick fell on him. Williamson had three tackles for the game.
Hornung was the only Packer not to see any action. Lombardi had asked him in the fourth quarter if he wanted to go in, but Hornung declined, not wanting to aggravate a pinched nerve in his neck. McGee, who caught only four passes for 91 yards and one touchdown during the season, finished Super Bowl I with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns. After the game was over, a reporter asked Vince Lombardi about if he thought Kansas City was good team. Lombardi responded that he did not think Kansas City was good enough to play in the NFL, comparing them to NFL Championship game loser Dallas.
The Green Bay Packers were each paid a salary of $15,000 as the winning team. The Chiefs were paid $7,500 each.
|1||6:04||GB||80||6||3:06||TD: Max McGee 37-yard pass from Bart Starr (Don Chandler kick)||0||7|
|2||10:40||KC||66||6||3:44||TD: Curtis McClinton seven-yard pass from Len Dawson (Mike Mercer kick)||7||7|
|2||4:37||GB||73||13||6:03||TD: Jim Taylor 14-yard run (Don Chandler kick)||7||14|
|2||:54||KC||50||7||3:43||FG: Mike Mercer 31 yards||10||14|
|3||12:33||GB||5||1||:09||TD: Elijah Pitts five-yard run (Don Chandler kick)||10||21|
|3||:51||GB||56||10||5:25||TD: Max McGee 13-yard pass from Bart Starr (Don Chandler kick)||10||28|
|4||6:35||GB||80||8||4:13||TD: Elijah Pitts one-yard run (Don Chandler kick)||10||35|
Source: NFL.com Super Bowl I
|Green Bay Packers||Kansas City Chiefs|
|First downs rushing||10||4|
|First downs passing||11||12|
|First downs penalty||0||1|
|Third down efficiency||11/15||3/13|
|Fourth down efficiency||0/0||0/0|
|Net yards rushing||133||72|
|Yards per rush||3.9||3.8|
|Passing – Completions/attempts||16/24||17/32|
|Times sacked-total yards||3–22||6–61|
|Net yards passing||228||167|
|Total net yards||361||239|
|Punt returns-total yards||4-23||3-19|
|Kickoff returns-total yards||3-65||6-130|
|Interceptions-total return yards||1–50||1–0|
|Time of possession||31:25||28:35|
Note: According to NBC Radio announcer Jim Simpson's report at halftime of the game, Kansas City led 11 to 9 in first downs at halftime, 181 to 164 in total yards, and 142 to 113 in passing yards (Green Bay led 51 to 39 in rushing yards). Bart Starr completed eight of 13 with no interceptions, while Len Dawson was 11 of 15 with no interceptions. Green Bay led 14–10 at halftime. Green Bay had the ball five times, although only for a minute or so on the last possession; they punted on their first possession, scored a touchdown on their second, punted on their third, scored a touchdown on their fourth, and had the ball when the half ended on their fifth. Kansas City had the ball four times – punting on their first possession, driving to a missed field goal on their second possession, scoring a touchdown on their third, and kicking a field goal on their fourth.
This means, in the second half, Green Bay led 12 to six in first downs, 203 to 58 in total yards, 115 to 25 in passing yards, and 82 to 33 in rushing yards (the Packers won the second half, 21–0). Starr and his late-game replacement, Zeke Bratkowski, were eight for 11 with one interception; Dawson and his late-game replacement, Pete Beathard, were just six for 17, also with one interception. Each team had the ball seven times in the second half, although Green Bay's first possession was just one play and their seventh possession was abbreviated because the game ended. Green Bay scored a touchdown on their first (one play) possession, punted on their second, scored a touchdown on their third, was intercepted at KC's 15-yard line on their fourth (just Starr's fourth interception of the year), scored a touchdown on their fifth, punted on their sixth, and had the ball when the game ended on their seventh possession. Kansas City was intercepted on their first possession – Wood's return to the five set up Pitts' touchdown that made the score 21–10 – and then punted on each of their next six possessions.
1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions
|Kansas City||Position||Green Bay|
|Chris Burford||SE||Carroll Dale|
|Jim Tyrer||LT||Bob Skoronski|
|Ed Budde||LG||Fuzzy Thurston|
|Wayne Frazier||C||Bill Curry|
|Curt Merz||RG||Jerry Kramer|
|Dave Hill||RT||Forrest Gregg|
|Fred Arbanas||TE||Marv Fleming|
|Otis Taylor||FL||Boyd Dowler|
|Len Dawson||QB||Bart Starr|
|Mike Garrett||HB||Elijah Pitts|
|Curtis McClinton||FB||Jim Taylor|
|Jerry Mays||LE||Willie Davis|
|Andy Rice||LT||Ron Kostelnik|
|Buck Buchanan||RT||Henry Jordan|
|Chuck Hurston||RE||Lionel Aldridge|
|Bobby Bell||LLB||Dave Robinson|
|Sherrill Headrick||MLB||Ray Nitschke|
|E. J. Holub||RLB||Lee Roy Caffey|
|Fred Williamson||LCB||Herb Adderley|
|Willie Mitchell||RCB||Bob Jeter|
|Bobby Hunt||LS||Tom Brown|
|Johnny Robinson||RS||Willie Wood|
- Referee: Norm Schachter (NFL)
- Umpire: George Young (AFL)
- Head linesman: Bernie Ulman (NFL)
- Line judge: Al Sabato (AFL)
- Field judge: Mike Lisetski (NFL)
- Back Judge: Jack Reader (AFL)
Note: A seven-official system was not used before 1978.
Since officials from the NFL and AFL wore different uniform designs, a "neutral" uniform was designed for this game. These uniforms had the familiar black and white stripes, but the sleeves were all black with the official's uniform number. This design was also worn in Super Bowl II, but was discontinued after that game when AFL officials began wearing uniforms identical to those of the NFL during the 1968 season, in anticipation of the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
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