The Pro Football Hall of Fame has obtained a full audio recording of the post-game show following Super Bowl I, and it’s a fascinating 30 minutes for anyone who’s interested in the history of football.
Pat Summerall, who was then 36 years old and recently retired as a player, handled the post-game proceedings and deftly showed the broadcasting talent that would make him the smoothest voice in pro football for decades to come. Summerall handled interviews with players, coaches and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had recently been named commissioner of the American Football League as well.
The Super Bowl wasn’t always called the Super Bowl back then; some referred to it as the “AFL-NFL Championship Game,” and although others used the term “Super Bowl,” it hadn’t yet been formally adopted.
One thing that stands out in listening to the broadcast is that virtually everyone took it as obvious that the NFL was a superior league to the AFL, and even though the NFL’s Packers had blown out the AFL’s Chiefs 35-10, Summerall acted surprised that the Chiefs were even able to keep it that close.
“I think if you watched, you were surprised, possibly — or possibly you knew — that Kansas City was as strong as they are,” Summerall said.
Packers coach Vince Lombardi scoffed when asked after the game whether AFL teams were on the same level as NFL teams.
“That’s a good football team and it doesn’t compare with the National Football League teams,” Lombardi said of the Chiefs. “I think the Kansas City team is a real tough football team but it doesn’t rate with the top teams in our league.”
Given that attitude, it’s unsurprising that the AFL Jets’ victory over the NFL Colts in Super Bowl III is still considered the greatest upset in the history of pro football.
Rozelle talked about the future of football with the NFL and AFL finally meeting on the same field, and he sounded particularly interested in how the two leagues would merge their rules. Rozelle said he hadn’t decided whether the two-point conversion, a staple of the AFL, would make its way to the NFL.
“One of the main ones left open was that two-point conversion,” Rozelle said. “As to the future of the two-point conversion, we’ll take it up after this summer, perhaps.”
As it turned out, the old-school NFL decided not to implement the newfangled two-point conversion until 1994.
The audio also includes Rozelle giving Lombardi the now-famous silver trophy and saying, “Vinny, this is the first Super Bowl trophy, and something Green Bay can keep — we’re going to have a new trophy each year.” That trophy, of course, continues to go to the winner of the Super Bowl each year, and now bears Lombardi’s name.
The Super Bowl I post-game audio was believed to be lost to history, as is the full TV broadcast of the Super Bowl I game. But a former production manager for an Ohio television station recently informed the Hall of Fame that he had recorded the show at the time that it aired and still had the tape. For fans of football history, that’s like finding buried treasure.