No full recording of the original broadcast of Super Bowl I exists because in the 1960s networks rarely saved their tapes. But one man owns what is believed to be the closest thing to a full recording, tapes his late father made of most of the game, minus commercials, some plays that came right after commercial breaks, halftime and some of the third quarter.
That man, Troy Haupt, asked the NFL for $1 million for his dad’s old tapes. The NFL replied that it would give him $30,000. When Haupt spurned that offer, the NFL stopped talking to Haupt entirely, other than to warn him that if he sells the tapes to a third party, he’ll be violating the league’s copyright and the NFL will go after him.
So now, as reported by the New York Times, Haupt is stuck with tapes that have a lot of value in theory, but none in practice: When you own something that can only be legally sold to one company, and that company is refusing to buy it, you don’t have any good options.
Haupt thought he found a good option when he and CBS agreed to a deal that would see Haupt getting $25,000 and CBS getting a portion of the tape to show during its Super Bowl 50 programming. Unfortunately for Haupt, that deal didn’t come to fruition, apparently because the NFL reminded CBS that it needs the NFL’s permission to re-air any portion of Super Bowl I — and the NFL isn’t granting that permission to anyone who buys Haupt’s tape.
“It’s awesome to have the tapes, but it’s frustrating that we can’t do anything with them,” Haupt told the New York Times. “It’s like you’ve won the golden ticket but you can’t get into the chocolate factory.”
NFL Network recently cobbled together its own version of Super Bowl I, which included every play of the game but not all of the broadcast, and not much of the pageantry that surrounds the game. If the NFL ever buys Haupt’s tapes, it could use that footage to put together a better re-broadcast of the first Super Bowl.
But it appears that the NFL has little interest in such a deal, and so we’re not going to see any more of Super Bowl I than we’ve already seen. At least until either the NFL or Haupt blinks.