With Super Bowl
Gold (Number 50) poised to soon to take center
stage, we flash back again to the first one whose
name officially was the AFL-NFL Championship Game.
My book has many oral history memories. What follows
is how just a few of those who were there at the
game remember the time:
TOMMY BROOKER: I was back in
Tuscaloosa with my wife and a bunch of Alabama
friends and that was where I watched the game. It
was a Super Bowl party, probably one of the original
parties. We watched the game on a 25 inch
television, it was in color. The set was in our
dining room-den combination, one big room. It wasn't
any fun watching at home, but I didn't have any
choice because I was on injured reserve for the
Kansas City Chiefs. That ‘66 season I was kicking
in Boston, and somebody forgot to block. And they
came into me, into my leg that was raised up.
Watching the first Super Bowl I
always thought Kansas City had a chance to win that
game, but that McGee was something else. When a guy
catches one behind the back and fumbles it around
and finally holds on, when a guy catches the
football in the neck area, damn!
You can't expect the ball to tumble
in the right direction every time.
I was not believing it as I watched
and neither were all the people in my house. There
was a lot of shouting, a lot of “damns!”
PETER GOLENBOCK: I was the sports
editor of The Dartmouth. I had predicted that the
Packers would blow the Chiefs out. I was a serious
New York Giants fan and was rooting for the NFL.
A married couple
by the name of Ray and Velda owned the Midget Diner,
a stone's throw from the Dartmouth Green. I would
go there every morning to eat steak and eggs for a
dollar. Ray and Velda had become part of my
Dartmouth family, so when it was announced that the
Green Bay Packers would play the AFL's Kansas City
Chiefs, they invited me and my Fayerweather Hall
roommate to their house for dinner and to watch the
game on their Dumont TV.
I somehow knew
that the biggest screen around then was a 25 inch
console that featured one speaker. I also knew that
there were color sets available but adjusting the
set while the game was in progress was part of the
drill. My hosts did not have color nor did they have
a very big screen.
Everyone knew the game was
important. The NFL was risking its reputation
playing the game. My hosts didn't much care who won.
Ray and Velda served an interesting,
unidentified meat dish, which I ate.
"Delicious," I said. "What is it?"
"It's venison," Ray said. "I shot
the deer myself."
It was all I could do to keep it
down. The idea of eating Bambi really revolted me.
The game itself was rather
anti-climactic. The Packer offense was as good as
advertised. They only ran a few plays, but they ran
them often and very well. Starr wasn't spectacular,
but he was very efficient. His touchdown passes
were elegantly thrown.
I thanked Ray and Velda profusely
after the game was over. I never ate venison again.
JOE BROWNE: I have often told my two
sons that I played a very significant role in the
AFL-NFL merger announcement in 1966. Jim Kensil, who
was Pete Rozelle’s right hand man, called (Peter)
Hadhazy and me into his office the afternoon of June
8. He told us there was a very important press
release that he wanted us to deliver by hand from
our Rockefeller Plaza league office to AP and UPI.
Hadhazy selected the AP assignment because it was
closer. I had to walk all the way down to East
42nd street to the UPI offices. Hadhazy would remind
me for years that he got the more important
assignment to deliver to AP, which served more
papers than UPI in those days.
Kensil told us to call him when we
reached our respective offices so he could
synchronize and the big news would be given to both
wire services at the exact same time. We did that,
dropped the press releases on the sports desks and
the rest is history.
There had been no news leaks about
the merger announcement so it received wide
newspaper coverage the next day. I was a college
sophomore at the time and only a part-time NFL
worker. I did not take the news that seriously. I
remember upsetting Kensil because I stopped for a
Nedicks hot dog on the way back to the office from
42nd street. He wanted to know how the news was
received at UPI. I was more concerned that my lunch
that day had been delayed due to the historical
release contained these main points:
Pete Rozelle will be the
A world championship game this
All existing franchises retained.
No franchises transferred from
Two new franchises no later than
Two more teams as soon thereafter
Inter-league pre-season games in
Single league schedule in 1970.
A common draft next January.
Continued two-network TV
(Autographed, mint, 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
ground-breaking AFL–NFL World Championship Football
game played on January 15, 1967: Packers vs. Chiefs.
Filled with new insights, containing commentary from
the unpublished memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach
Hank Stram, featuring oral history from many who
were at the game—media, players, coaches, fans—the
book is mainly in the words of those who lived it
and saw it go on to become the Super Bowl, the
greatest sports attraction the world has ever known.
Archival 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 books including the
classics: best-selling New York City Baseball,
1947-1957 and best-selling “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime
Baseball. He also authored the acclaimed Remembering
Yankee Stadium and best-selling Remembering Fenway
Park. The prolific Frommer is working on “the
Ultimate Yankee book” to be published in 2017.