Well, it’s finally here. Almost. Super Bowl XLV. Do you think anyone figured out in 1967 that we would all have to learn Roman numerals to try and figure out what one this is? It is Super Bowl 45!
I can’t believe that I have been around for all of them. There have been some great ones. The first one was played on Jan. 15 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. I grew up in Culver City, just down the road from the Coliseum. Who played in that first game? The Green Bay Packers. The same team that played in Super Bowls 2, 31, 32 and now 45 a week from Sunday.
Green Bay, with star quarterback Bart Starr, was the best team back then. After their first two runaway wins over Kansas City, and then Oakland, I never thought the AFL (later the AFC) would ever defeat the NFL/NFC. That’s okay because I was a Rams’ fan and who were these upstart guys from the American Football League, anyway?
How did the Super Bowl come to be? On August 14, 1959, Dallas businessman, Lamar Hunt, called for formation of that American Football league. The AFL started play in 1960.
The National Football League didn’t like competing for players and sports page space so on June 8, 1966, the AFL and the NFL announced a merger.
At the end of the 1966 season the two league champs played against each other in the first-ever Super Bowl.
Later, three teams from the “old” NFL (including Pittsburgh) would be transferred to the “new” AFC and that’s how things stand now.
It was real simple in those days. Super Bowl I could be understood by everyone. The upstart AFL would never win a Super Bowl, I thought, so what’s the big deal?
Then Joe Namath predicted his New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. I laughed so hard my grandmother’s false teeth fell out of her mouth as she was laughing at me.
Of course the Jets beat Baltimore, 16-7, and I didn’t laugh anymore. It was the biggest upset I’ve ever seen. Baltimore got some redemption in Super Bowl V when they beat Dallas, 16-13, but in Super Bowl IV my wife’s Minnesota relatives never forgot their 23-7 drubbing at the hands of AFC champ, Kansas City.
I remember then, thinking that the AFL belonged and this Super Bowl thing might last.
By the way, that Minnesota loss was its first of four Super Bowl losses in the Seventies and drove my wife’s family to California. To this day her family still roots for the Vikings.
It wasn’t until the Eighties that the NFL brain trust decided the football game should be secondary to the festivities. Of course they didn’t say that but the parties that go on during Super Bowl week, the entertainment they’ve had at the Super Bowls, the hype for two weeks before the Super Bowl, the inflated TV ad costs ($2.5 million for 30 seconds this year) is all nonsense. The game is superfluous.
In 1999 Gayle and I attended the Super Bowl game. Two weeks before the Atlanta Falcons defeated her beloved Minnesota Vikings so we just missed them being in Super Bowl XXXIII. That was quite a disappointment.
But thanks to our benefactor, Progressive Insurance, we went to all the parties the week before in Miami and had 50-yardline tickets to the game where Denver beat Atlanta, 34-19.
We also got to go to a rehearsal of KISS and saw them without their hideous masks and makeup. They were the halftime entertainment that year. This year it will be the Black Eyed Peas.
The tickets go for almost $1,000 each this year in Dallas. That is the unscalped price. You can understand why the entertainers, bands and others don’t have a seat for the game. They are hustled out in the parking lot and view the game on really big screens.
In 1980 I went to a couple of pre-game parties. They weren’t anything like today but I took my son Dan to a party in Anaheim. It was a lot of fun to see the players and root for our team.
It really was more of a rally. The Los Angeles Rams of Anaheim were in the Super Bowl that year, the only year they made it. They were beaten by Pittsburgh, 31-19, but who remembers?
Next week I’ll tell you who will win between the Steelers and the Packers. Who cares? Okay, let the parties begin anyway!
Argue with Don by sending an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.