September 17, 2019
A few years ago, I had the chance (on the NFL Network) to watch the first NFL - AFL World Championship game in professional football. It was played on January 15, 1967, between the Green Bay Packers of the NFL versus the AFL representative, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers won 35-10.
For many years, the game's actual video footage was lost but was recently discovered. At the time, it was called a championship game but was retroactively referred to as Super Bowl I.
After watching professional football for many years since that game, many things occurred in NFL - AFL Championship that are absent from today's NFL. Here are some of my differences from today's game.
No spiking of the football, chest bumps, or superman simulations after a player scored a touchdown. Typically, the scoring player of either team merely handed the football to the official in the end zone.
No two-minute stoppage for replay evaluation. And of course, no Microsoft tablets were seen on the sidelines.
No last names of players on Green Bay Packer uniforms and no logo or corporate brands on any players' uniforms.
No hand gesturing or excessive celebrations after the offensive player achieved a 1st down. They simply went back to the huddle for another series of downs.
The first NFL - AFL World Championship game had empty seats at the LA Coliseum.
Three separate College bands performed at halftime, which eliminated any controversial half-time shows that may occur today.
Of course, the game was not filmed in high-definition.
Goalposts in the late '60s in professional football were at the goal line.
No timeouts were called before a field goal to try to "ice" the kicker. That would have been considered "bush league" to do so.
The majority of the players on the field were white, the exact opposite of today's NFL.
Kickoffs occurred on the 40-yard line and rarely soared into the end zone for a touchback. Therefore, the kickoff runback was a more integral part of the game back then.
The field at the LA Coliseum was in awful shape for this special event.
The yard markers on the field were marked every five yards.
Many attendees to this special event wore suits and dresses.
All referees wore white caps.
Packers scored in every quarter, the Chiefs only scored in the second quarter.
Hits to quarterback's head did not necessarily warrant a personal foul penalty.
Both starting quarterbacks, Bart Starr, and Len Dawson didn't have rifle arms -- their focus was on touch, accuracy and game management.
On one play, pushing a player down after the whistle had blown did not necessarily warrant a personal foul penalty.
When a good play happened, it was handshakes; no high-fives, dances or chest bumps were displayed.
No one in the crowd displayed those silly Defense signs (a D with a part of a fence).
Donnie Anderson of the Packers played offense and defense during the game.
It goes without says but those players 50 years ago were much smaller and slower than players in today's game.
Typically, each punt receiving team had two players to receive the punt.
Many of the cornerbacks on both teams were black players, even back in 1967.
When a Packer scored a touchdown, there was no "Lambeau Leap" into the stands.
No nets were used to capture footballs after extra points or field goals. If you could get your hands on that football and keep your hands on it, that was a once in a lifetime souvenir.
Smoking was permitted in the stands during the game.
Each player on the Green Bay Packers received a check for $15,000 as part of the winning team. Each Kansas City player received $7,500. The Super Bowl check for each member of the winning team would exceed the amount these players received in '67 for the entire season.
Packer fans were not wearing cheese heads or orange hunting gear in the stands.
Vince Lombardi did not receive a Gatorade bath after the Packers won the first NFL - AFL Championship game. Perhaps the Packers' players knew better.
Kansas City Chiefs continued to punt the entire fourth quarter even though down by 25 points at various times.
Len Dawson, the QB of the Chiefs took an interesting cigarette break during half-time.
Six officials were used for this game. The NFL used six officials from '65 through '77.
This game was played on January 15, 1967, at 3:15 CT. The Super Bowl now is typically in February and appears will remain during the first week in February.
ADDITIONAL NOTES FROM WIKIPEDIA
Los Angeles wasn't awarded the game until December 1, less than seven weeks before the kickoff; likewise, the date of the game was not set until December 13.
Coming into this "first Championship," there was much animosity between the two rival leagues which put pressure on their respective champions to defeat the other to prove their respective league's dominance. However, many fans and sportswriters believed it was a mismatch as the well established NFL was superior to the upstart AFL.
Many sportswriters considered it fitting that the Chiefs and Packers would be the team to play in the first-ever AFL - NFL Championship game. Owner Lamar Hunt of the Chiefs had founded the AFL and Green Bay was considered one of the best team in NFL history with having been in the NFL since 1921 (a year after the league's formation).
During the game, the official balls from both leagues were used. The Chiefs used the AFL football on offense (Spalding JV-5), and the Packers on offense used the official NFL ball (Wilson's "The Duke").
The head referee was Norm Schachter, who held a doctorate from Alfred University in New York and began officiating local games in 1941.
Face value tickets for this game were $10, the inflation-adjusted price would be a little over $76.
The officiating crew was comprised of both AFL and NFL referees and Norm Schachter of the NFL was the head referee. (I wonder how that was decided to have the head referee come from the NFL?)