From 1 to 52: Super Bowl Mania

On Feb. 4 in Minneapolis they’ll play the Super Bowl for the 52nd year in a row. What started out as an experiment in 1967 has become a holiday 52 years later.

I had just bought my first color television in 1967, a few months before the game. It was an RCA Victor color set with a 19-inch screen. What a treat to watch the Green Bay Packers in their home green and yellow uniforms go against the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs in their road whites with red trim.

Vince Lombardi’s Packers had won the NFL Championship a week earlier in what would become known as the Ice Bowl. When the Packers took the field to face the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 31, 1967, the grass had turned to solid ice and despite the blue skies and sunshine, it was 13 degrees below zero at kickoff time.

In what proved to be one of the greatest tests of guts and courage in sports history, the Packers defeated the Cowboys 21-17. Rumor has it that Vince Lombardi was upset his NFL champions had to play another game two weeks later in the inaugural NFL-AFL Championship game, not yet known as the Super Bowl. “We’re already champions,” he said.

Los Angeles Coliseum must have seemed like another world to the Packers as they came out to warm up for their game against the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs lead by the legendary Hank Stram.

While today’s Super Bowls are a show that last a week in the host city, that first game wasn’t even sold out and only got nominal coverage on television in the days leading up to kickoff.

Commercials for the first “Super Bowl” went for $42,000 for a 30-second spot seen on both CBS and NBC. For Super Bowl 52 this year that same spot will cost $5,050,000. 

Justin Timberlake will headline this year’s half time show. Lady Gaga starred in last year’s halftime, show, Coldplay the year before that.

In 1967, the UCLA choir performed the national anthem at the first ever “Super Bowl.” The Grambling State marching band did the halftime show. We’ve come a long way since then, but I’m really happy that I witnessed that very first one.

By the way, the Packers beat the Chiefs 35-10. Maybe Vince Lombardi was right.