On January 11, 1967 Gene Ward writing
in the New York Daily News had declared:
“In fact, and to be brutally frank,
this could wind up being labeled the ‘Stupor Bowl.’”
The New York Times sports section
headline on January 15, 1967 read:
“The Super Bowl: Football's Day
of Decision Stirs Nation."
Angeles Times headline read:
Sunday – Here At Last!”
The United States of America at
that time of the first Super Bowl was involved in a
bloody and unpopular war in Vietnam. During the game
an ad would feature President Lyndon B. encouraging
the purchase of war bonds. On the home front there
was protest against the war and a surging civil
rights movement. It was a time when the
Louisville draft board turned back Cassius Clay's
appeal for exemption from the service on his plea
that he was a Black Muslim minister.
That year of 1967 the Beatles, the
Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, all made
music. “Hair” had opened on Broadway. The first
issue of Rolling Stone was published priced at 25
cents. The last “Milton Berle Show” aired on TV. The
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was
created. Seat belts were to finally become a staple
Median household income was just
over $7,000. Unemployment was 3.8%. The average
price for a gallon of gas was 33 cents. A home cost
on average $7,300. For a nickel one could purchase a
first class stamp. A ticket to a movie on average
was $1.20. A gallon of milk was $1.03. A pack of
cigarettes was about thirty cents. Life expectancy
was 70.5 years.
On the Friday before the game, the
Green Bay Packers arrived in Los Angeles. "If we
lose it won't be because of our physical condition
or the field. KC will just beat us, “said Vince
The scene was finally set for the
playing of a football game that many were now
calling “the Super Bowl” or the “Super Game. After
the historic announcement of the merger of the two
football leagues, after months of bickering,
backstabbing, bargaining and ballyhoo, it was
finally almost Game Time.
MICHAEL MACCAMBRIDGE: I think for
Lamar Hunt, it must have been surreal to wake up on
the morning of January 15, 1967 and get ready to go
to a football game which he himself made necessary.
Without Lamar’s toughness and tenacity, you not only
don't have the game, you also do not have had the
expansion in the 1960s where the number of pro
football teams almost doubled.
BART STARR: On the morning of our
game I woke up, took a quick shower and headed
downstairs to read the paper and have some
breakfast. I walked by Max McGee and greeted
him. He looked like he might need a shave and was
wearing the same sports coat and slacks as the night
before. Max said, ‘Hey, Bart,’ glanced at his watch
and headed for the elevators.
At 11 A.M. sharp, the Packers,
packed and poised and feeling some pressure although
most would not admit it, took their seats on the
chartered bus taking leave of their Los Angeles
Sheraton-West Hotel. All was in order for the trip
to the Coliseum. There was a lot of hustling and
bustling about by writers who covered the team as
they settled into seats.
BUD LEA: Max McGee had returned
to the hotel just in time for the team’s breakfast.
He napped for an hour and then boarded the team bus
for the Coliseum.
“This is Super Morning of Super
Sunday, “an upbeat Max McGee shouted out. We are all
going out to the Super Bowl and I am a Super End.”
BILL CURRY: We didn’t know at the
time that he had been out all night, but he made
that very clear later. McGee was hung over. There
were some chuckles about that. There was some
The last one to come aboard the
bus was Coach Vince Lombardi. He settled in. He sat
in the front seat, right side. The doors of the bus
were shut. The bus began to slowly move out.
“Just a minute,” the Packer head
man told the driver.
Standing up, moving into the
aisle, Lombardi called for the attention of his
players. Then he slowly broke into a muted soft shoe
“Go coach, go!” some players
Later Lombardi explained that he
did what he did to loosen things up. “They were too
tight,” he said.
BILL CURRY: It was bright and
sunny and that seemed strange at that time of year.
Getting on the bus it struck me: everybody is
behaving just like they always do. The players were
not the least bit taken aback by all the stuff that
went on. Nobody behaved any differently than normal.
There was the regular normal joshing by the ones who
tended to be funny like Hornung.
A couple of guys on the bus were
discussing the selections for the Pro Bowl which was
always a big deal to the players. Somebody was
chosen, somebody wasn’t. I remember Forrest Gregg
saying, “Gosh, I never played very well in those
And I wanted to say, “Yeah, but
you’ve been in 10 in a row, Forrest!”
I’m just sitting there listening
to all of this.
CHUCK LANE: Going to the game
there were a couple of buses. In those days the
local media were invited to travel with us. We had a
number of people from our executive committee along.
We were a very tight group. It was an awful lot
riding on that game, and I think everybody had a
great deal of confidence that we could win the
ballgame, but there was pressure.
DAVE ROBINSON: I thought the game
was never going to be that big. In fact, my wife
wanted to come because she said some day it was
going to be bigger than the World Series.
I told her, “It’s never going to
be bigger than the World Series, but come on out to
A foggy Sunday morning in Long
Beach greeted the Kansas City Chiefs players who
stood around their bus, some hugging wives.
The Chiefs were set to go directly
from their Long Beach hotel to the Coliseum.
“On the ride to Los Angeles,” Hank
Stram said, “the team was quiet and preoccupied.
Each player was afraid of the game, of coming into
the presence of greatness-- the Green Bay Packers.”
Hank Stram had made the point of
repeating to his players: "We're playing for every
player, coach, official who has ever been in the
AFL. We have a strong purpose." Now he repeated that
The Los Angeles Times assigned
four of its top photographers to the contest.
Art Rogers, Ben Olender and Charles O’Rear were
positioned on the sidelines, cameras at the
ready with 35 millimeter black and white film.
Larry Sharkey and his sequence
camera was in the press box. He had an overhead
location to shoot from with 70 millimeter
black and white film.
Ground for the impressive and
gigantic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum had been
broken on December 21, 1921. Designed originally as
a memorial to World War I veterans, built at a cost
of $954,873, it opened May 1, 1923 on 18 acres in
the architectural style of art moderne.
The Coliseum had a long history of
playing host to all manner of events including the
1932 Summer Olympics. In 1967, the USC Trojans first
began playing there and have used the facility ever
since. After the Dodgers left Brooklyn at the end of
the 1957 season, they played at the Coliseum as the
Los Angeles Dodgers from 1958 to 1961.
Now it was going to be the
environment for the football game of all football
(Autographed, mint, discounted copies of WHEN IT
WAS JUST A GAME are available direct from the
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.