Super Bowl I Tape Was Erased Long Ago; Now The Game Will Air Again The TV networks that broadcast 1967's inaugural game erased it. Now the NFL Network has pieced together its own film with radio footage of the historic game; Super Bowl I: The Lost Game airs Friday.
NPR logo

Super Bowl I Tape Was Erased Long Ago; Now The Game Will Air Again

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/463146252/463146253" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Super Bowl I Tape Was Erased Long Ago; Now The Game Will Air Again

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, when Super Bowl 50 is played early next month, it will easily be one of the most watched televised events of the year with roughly a third of American households tuning in. It was not always that way. The first Super Bowl was played back in 1967, and it seemed to matter so little back then that the networks broadcasting the game, NBC and CBS, just went ahead and erased the tapes. The video of that game was long believed to be lost forever until now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM SIMPSON: Hello, again, everyone. This is Jim Simpson along with George Ratterman from the coliseum in Los Angeles, and this is it, the American Football League-National Football League championship.

GREENE: It wasn't even called the Super Bowl then. It turns out the NFL's own production unit was also filming the game. NFL Network has now stitched together that archival footage with NBC's original radio broadcast. And tonight, on the NFL Network, the entire game will be aired again for the first time since 1967. NFL senior producer David Plaut said they spent months scouring through their archives for footage, and then they had to piece it all together.

DAVID PLAUT: I likened it to a jigsaw puzzle.

GREENE: A puzzle with 145 pieces, one for each play. The teams playing on the field, the NFL's Green Bay Packers and the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs. Now back then pro football was much less popular than baseball, less popular than boxing, even college football, but David Plaut said the teams on the field were still pretty impressive.

PLAUT: You had a game where you had 14 future Hall of Famers, two Hall of Fame coaches, a lot of great immortal players who many people have never seen play. And for at least for one evening, you're going to see them come alive again.

GREENE: And for those watching tonight, Plaut says you're probably going to notice some differences but also some similarities between the game now and then.

PLAUT: The athletes are not as big, they're certainly not as fast, but the game is fundamentally played in the same way. Where the Super Bowl is different is in the way that it is presented. It so much more of an event of entertainment and spectacle than it was.

GREENE: I mean, think about the halftime show. Back then it was let's say less Beyonce, less Coldplay and much more about marching bands. NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson played in that original Super Bowl. He was part of the Green Bay pass rush that led to this momentum shifting interception early in the second half.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMPSON: Nelson being rushed, and oh, it is intercepted.

GREENE: He says that walking into the stadium with legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi just felt historic.

DAVE ROBINSON: Vince said, man, football's come a long way from when I used to play in cow pastures. And I said, well, you're right, coach. And he thought that this was a long ways, but if he could see the Super Bowl today with all the grandeur...

GREENE: He probably wouldn't believe it. Spoiler alert, the Packers won that first Super Bowl. And tonight, Robinson gets to relive that glory.

ROBINSON: I've always said that I wish they had saved those tapes of Super Bowl One. Now I'm going to have my own copy because I'm going to tape it. I really can't wait to see it.

GREENE: As for Robinson's prediction for this year's Super Bowl...

ROBINSON: Kansas City versus the Green Bay Packers, wouldn't it be phenomenal to have two teams play Super Bowl 50 after having played in Super Bowl One? It would - the league would have come full circle.

GREENE: Well, those two teams, while they're low seeds, are both still in the playoffs, so that could happen. And if it does, maybe it would sound a little like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMPSON: That's the end of the game with the final score Green Bay, 35, and Kansas City, 10. We'll be back in a moment with a final wrap-up of today's game.

GREENE: "Super Bowl One: The Lost Game" airs tonight on the NFL Network. And just one more note here. Jim Simpson, who we heard there doing the play-by-play in that first Super Bowl, he passed away this week. He was 88 years old.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.