January 15, 1967. The first Super Bowl. Actually, it was not even called the Super Bowl as yet. It was the AFL- NFL Championship game. This championship game evolved into being called the Super Bowl a few years later.
However, this post is not necessarily about the game itself, it is about my memory of viewing the game at our Aunt Fil’s apartment in Queens, NY. This was a big deal to us, in that by being lucky enough to watch the game at Aunt Fil and Uncle Jim’s apartment, we would have the amazing privilege of seeing this game in Color! (I know, some if not all, of you, are probably shaking your heads wondering what the hell I’m talking about.)
The TV that our parents had at our apartment on 17st in Manhattan was black and White. Yep, black and white. Aunt Fil was the first in the immediate family to own a color TV set and the prospect of watching this groundbreaking game on it was thrilling for us. We had never seen anything in “living color” on television until Aunt Fil and Uncle Jim purchased theirs. (Yea, I know this must sound like a post from the Dark Ages, but, relatively speaking, it was not that long ago. 1967.)
I remember well, Dad loading mom, Rob and I into his Plymouth Satellite for the drive to Queens on that Sunday afternoon. ( yea, yea… Plymouth Satellite… Dark Ages… I get it.)
Rob and I were excited. First, we always loved visiting family. The love, the food, the treats the laughs were priceless. Those visits are still priceless in my memory today. Second, we were going to see a championship football game on COLOR TV!
Without question, I believe the color TV portion of the day was more important than the game itself for us. Don’t get me wrong, we loved Football and followed our Giants closely. This game was between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs ( from the new American Football league.)We were NFL fans first because that was the league our Giants played in. In addition, this new AFL league was the new kid on the block. It wasn’t until a guy by the name of Joe Namath showed up in New York a year later that our view of the world changed.
But, back to this game. We were rooting for the Packers because they were NFL. It was not easy cheering for the Packers, in that they had a bad habit of beating our Giants, but it was the Packers for us that day. In addition, KC had this loud mouth, big talking defensive back named Fred Williamson. He called himself “The Hammer”, because of his forearm to the head crushing tackles.
Remember, this was Football before all the rules that are now part of the game. Players were offered almost no protection and virtually any kind of hit was legal, no matter how dangerous or cheap. “The Hammer” did a lot of pregame “talking” about how he was going to shut the Packers down and knock some of their guys out of the game. He became the primary reason we were Packer fans that day.
I recall being glued to the TV as the game unfolded. I felt as though I was there, seeing it in color! Of course, the wonderful food and desserts, along with just being in the same room with loved family members added to the magic of the day. I remember the sounds of the conversations going around the table, though I recall nothing that was said. Just hearing their voices and laughs was enough… I would love to hear those voices again.
So, in a very small apartment in Queens, NY, Super Bowl 1 unfolded before our eyes in living color. The Packers went on to beat the Chiefs pretty soundly, and they even knocked “The Hammer” out of the game… a good day.
I recall talking to Rob in the backseat on the way back to Manhattan. We talked about the game, laughed about “The Hammer” and said that one day…. wouldn’t be cool to have a color TV…
So, here I am, January 3, 2019. Houston, Texas. Good Lord, things have changed over all the years since Super Bowl 1. We are at a friends house watching Super Bowl 53. 53??? What?
This year it’s the New England Patriots versus the LA Rams. I don’t have that much interest in the game, as a matter of fact, we are just here for the fellowship. The Patriots won, which is good, in that I was rooting for them. Rooting for them by default, much in the same way I rooted for the Packers back in New York in 1967. We watched it on a 65-inch movie screen type TV. We have come a long way, eh?
There was conversation and some laughter, but it was not Queens, NY in the small apartment my Aunt Fil had. Most of the voices making up the conversation and laughter in the background of Super Bowl 1 have long since been silenced.
I miss them.