Saturday, February 1, 2014

How The Super Bowl Was Created

by Paul Romero 

In 1966, the then two rival leagues known as the National Football League and the American Football League decided the champion of each league would play each other in what was coined as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The purpose of this game was a precursor to the eventual merger of the two rival leagues. This merger was to take place prior to the opening of the 1970 football season.

The first AFL-NFL World Championship Game pitted the Green Bay Packers of the NFL against the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL. Green Bay won that game 35-10 in front of 61,956 people at the Los Angeles Coliseum on January 15th 1967, as expected. The AFL at that time was considered an inferior league to the NFL and these championship games were expected to be dominated by the NFL champions who played in them. The 2nd AFL-NFL World Championship Game played on January 14th 1968 in the Orange Bowl in Miami Florida, in front of 75,546 fans between the Green Bay Packers of the NFL and the Oakland Raiders of the AFL, proved this inferiority theory to be correct.

However in 1969, what also just so happened to be the first year of the new "Super Bowl" the tables would turn and the AFL would gain the respect they deserved, and the legitimacy to play a championship game versus the Oh So dominant NFL. This game was won by the AFL's NY Jets, lead by a young and brash quarterback by the name of Joe Namath 16-7 over the vaunted, and perceived extremely dominant Baltimore Colts. This was the first time the football loving public heard the term Super Bowl.

The owner at the time of the Kansas City Chiefs Lamar Hunt was the inventor of the name Super Bowl. Lamar was an NFL visionary in many ways but this term Super Bowl was probably not something he figured to go down in history for. Although it's been said he did not think the AFL-NFL World Championship Game was a catchy enough title for this clash of the titans meeting between the two leagues.

I don't think anyone except for Lamar really knows exactly why he came up the term, but I think it was a slight collaboration from two of football's most famous stadiums, the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl. Which between them by the way have hosted 13 Super Bowls over the years. But the story goes, one day while Lamar was watching a child play with a toy aptly named a Super Ball, the term Super Bowl was born. I still say he had to be thinking about a new name prior to this simple incident, and the ball itself was the just catalyst for such grand inspiration.

Lamar Hunt was the original owner of the AFL's Dallas Texans team before he moved them to Kansas City where they became the Chiefs. He and the General Manager of the Cowboys, Tex Schramm are the two men accredited with the AFL and NFL merger, which in turn created the need for a championship game. Therefore it is only fitting one of them, Lamar Hunt should be the one to create the name Super Bowl.

Well folks, that's history and so is the rest of this story as the two separate leagues did complete the merger in 1970, and we are now about to play our 43rd consecutive Super Bowl. Yes this is Super Bowl 45 to be played in February 2011 but remember, the first two championship games did not carry the coveted titles of Super Bowl I & Super Bowl II. Those were AFL-NFL World Championship Games.

We should all raise a toast to Pete Rozzelle, Tex Schramm, and especially to Lamar Hunt on this upcoming Sunday in February celebrating the fact that rather than attending or throwing, an AFL-NFL World Championship Party, we are instead enjoying "The Super Bowl Party".

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