Recalling Super Bowl I with Lombardi's Packers and NFL vs. AFL

January 23, 2018 3:00 AM


The first Super Bowl was played Jan. 15, 1967 in the LA Memorial Coliseum between the Packers and Chiefs. The NFL and newer AFL weren’t yet merged. The two leagues, and especially these two teams, genuinely disliked each other.

The Chiefs, owned by the Lamar Hunt family, were the first team to pay their players what was then exorbitant salaries. By today’s going rates they were still grossly underpaid. The NFL mantra was “the Hunts bought their team” whatever that meant. The Packers were publicly owned by the citizens of Green Bay and still are.

The underlying atmosphere behind Super Bowl I was a promoter’s dream. These players would have played the game for free just to get at each other. They almost did since the winner got $15,000 and the loser $7,500. Vince Lombardi’s Packers came through for their coach with a convincing 35-10 win. In the Trophy ceremony and press conference Lombardi wouldn’t knock the Chiefs till they hounded him into saying, “OK ,we’re a better league.”

The trophy today is named after Coach Lombardi.

Today’s kids won’t know a sports world that was a lot simpler, easier to watch and participate in with less showbiz and showboating. The self-promoting pro influence is creeping into the college games and is slowly beginning to take hold in high schools. Screaming and pounding your chest after making a basket or tackle and mini end zone productions are glorified on TV. Soon if not already embedded in our kids’ vision of the games they play, this attitude will be as much a part of their game as discipline once was not so long ago.

Same with the Las Vegas race and sportsbooks. Millennials and younger will never know betting parlors that were not part of a hotel/casino. They once weren’t allowed, by regulation, in Vegas casinos. That regulation was changed in 1976 and all those nostalgic old, Spartan joints slowly disappeared one by one.

The characters who haunted those stand-alone joints and the camaraderie that still exists among some of us old goats will be gone with us. Times change, change with them or get out of the way. Take care.