Game, AFL-NFL, the Green Bay Packers of the NFL meeting the Kansas City Chiefs of the rival AFL, and yes, owned by Lamar Hunt, who broke into professional football with the Dallas Texans in 1960, and sharing the Cotton Bowl and the local fan base with the Cowboys.
The game was being played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, capable of seating 93,000, but only 61,946 people attended, paying all of $10 a ticket. Can you imagine for that price 30,000 empty seats for what is now known as a Super Bowl? The date for this historic event was Jan. 15, 1967.
So this story comes thanks to Pat Summerall, the venerable announcer working for CBS at the time, the network holding the television rights to NFL games. Rights to the AFL games belonged to NBC, and since this game was seen as somewhat of a grudge match between the then competing leagues, the networks agreed to simulcast the game each using its own announcers, with both crews off the CBS camera feed.
Kurt Gowdy and Paul Christman were the NBC TV announcers. For CBS, it was Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker, Frank Gifford and Summerall, working the very first of his 26 Super Bowls as either a television or radio announcer - 10 on radio, 16 on TV. Gosh, I was still in junior high, but remember watching the game, on pins and needles for sure since even though I grew up in Chicago, dad and I were Green Bay Packers fans. Probably had something to do with a guy by the name of Lombardi being the head coach.
Anyway, the game was huge, the NFL trying to defend its superiority against the upstart AFL, sort of the non-BCS automatic qualifier team of its day. All meaning the pressure was on Vince Lombardi and the Packers to uphold the integrity of the NFL. After all, the Packers had just won their second straight NFL title, and the fourth in six years. Tense day for all involved.
To the shock of many, the Packers led only 14-10 at halftime. Summerall recalls being in the booth for the first half, with Gifford on the sideline, and the two switched places for the second half, Summerall getting in position to handle sideline duties. He's on headset for the second half, Green Bay kicking to the Chiefs, and well, let him tell you the rest of the story:
"When I went to the sideline, first thing I heard was, 'Ask Coach Lombardi if he would mind kicking off again because NBC missed the second-half kickoff.'"
Say what? Summerall, then 36 years old and just embarking on what would be a fabled television career, was flabbergasted. Evidently NBC still was in commercial when the Packers kicked off, a glitch in the simulcast. Some request, right?
Well, Summerall knew better. He was the New York Giants kicker in 1958, Lombardi's final season as offensive coordinator before moving on to become the Packers head coach in 1959. He knew how incorrigible and bombastic Lombardi could be. Plus, Summerall already had heard Gifford's pre-game report about how up-tight Lombardi was before the game.
So even though the CBS guys figured Summerall's relationship with Lombardi would grease such an unreasonable request, the former NFL player remembers saying to himself, "This is the end of my sideline reporting because I'm not about to ask Coach Lombardi that." Like, were they kidding? Ask Lombardi to do what again? Kick off?
But lo' and behold, the game was stopped, and the Packers were lining up to kick off a second time, actually restarting the second half for of all things, TV.
"Somebody from NBC came down and asked him," Summerall says. "I don't know who did it, but it wasn't me."
And you undoubtedly know the rest of the story, the Packers upholding the NFL's perceived superiority, defeating the Chiefs, 35-10, and would go on to win the second World Championship Game, beating the Oakland Raiders, 33-14, the following season. Not until the third World Championship Game did the AFL break through, the New York Jets beating the Baltimore Colts, 16-9, behind Jets quarterback Joe Namath, the game's MVP, and the 121 yards rushing by Matt Snell, who should have been the game's MVP.
The AFL's victory help forge the final steps of the NFL-AFL merger, where the leagues came together in 1970 under the NFL umbrella and the game, thanks to Hunt and his wife Norma