is a well-executed retelling of the game and its
surroundings from all points of view: officials,
coaches, players, the media, and even fans. Among
the narrative’s best parts are the late Stram’s
detailed recollections from an unpublished
manuscript made available to the author from Stram’s
son. Verdict: Consistently fascinating, this book
will appeal to all football fans.—Library Journal
One of Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s
suggestions for the name of the new game was "The
Big One." That name never caught on. “Pro Bowl,” was
another Rozelle idea. Had the name been adopted
there would have been confusion for that was the
name used for the NFL’s All Star game. Another
name was floated “World Series of Football.” That
died quickly. It was deemed too imitative of
baseball’s Fall Classic.
There was no Super Bowl Committee.
That some said was part of the problem. There was
also a game that had no location that had no name.
That, too, was part of the problem.
It was Rozelle’s idea to call the
contest, The AFL-NFL World Championship Game. (Los
Angeles Times February 03, 2007)
That name for the game was official;
however, it never took off. It was too cumbersome, a
mouthful, no good for newspaper headlines.
BOYD DOWLER: We thought it was kind
of funny they called it the Super Bowl; that was a
feature of the media more than anybody else. But the
AFL-NFL Championship Bowl Game, yeah, that’s a lot
more words than necessary. Super Bowl is a lot more
SHARON HUNT: The name AFL-NFL
championship game was too unwieldy, hard to get
Two days after all the hullabaloo
over the merger, New York Times sports columnist
Arthur Daley wrote about what the future held in
store: the “new super duper football game for what
amounts to the championship of the world."
The Los Angeles Times reported on
September 4, 1966 that the game was being "referred
to by some as the Super Bowl."
The New York Times sports section’s
lead story that same day headlined: "NFL Set to Open
Season That Will End in Super Bowl."
The Washington Post a week later
reported: "The brash upstarts who will tackle
Goliath in professional football's ultimate
production, a highly appealing 'Super Bowl' that
promises extra pizzazz at seasons’ end."
LAMAR HUNT, JR: My parents got
divorced, and my dad who was the head of the
American Football League would come over and pick us
up. And I remember showing him the Super Ball, the
“whammy” super ball and saying, “Hey look, this will
bounce over the house, this ball.”
You know my dad was not going to be
preoccupied with toys that were given to children.
You know, he might have bounced the ball. We just
remember demonstrating it.
But then what happened going forward
is my dad was in an owner’s meeting. They were
trying to figure out what to call the last game, the
championship game. I don’t know if he had the ball
with him as some reports suggest.
My dad said, “Well, we need to come
up with a name, something like the “Super Bowl.”
And then he said, “Actually, that’s
not a very good name. We can come up with something
But “Super Bowl” stuck in the media
and word of mouth.
It kind of came out of my dad’s
mouth. What do you want to call it? Power of
suggestion or just an idea or whatever, it stuck.
And the inspiration was that Super Ball. I feel
blessed to be the son of a guy who really came up
with the name.
“Super Bowl” was probably inspired by
his contact with the Super Ball.
BILL MCNUTT, III: I became very close
friends with the Hunt children. We would go over to
Dallas and I would play with that ball with them. We
were just amazed at this ball. It was the most
popular toy of its day.
The Wham-O Super Ball was introduced
in 1965. Invented by Norm Stingley, a chemical
engineer at the Bettis Rubber Company in Whittier,
California, the ball was made of Zectron. The “Super
Ball” could bounce 6 times higher than any regular
rubber ball. Millions of the balls were sold and it
remained a craze through the 1960s.
PAUL ZIMMERMAN: The National Football
League hierarchy frowned on the term “Super Bowl.”
But the fans and the media like it and used it and
Super Bowl would become the name to represent
professional football’s championship game.
SHARON HUNT: It was something else
that a toy a child was playing with could have
inspired the name
JERRY IZENBERG: The afternoon of the
merger the switchboard rang at the NFL offices, and
the guy said, “I want 20 tickets for the title
They said, “We don’t even know where
it’s going to be.”
And he said, “I don’t care, I want to
buy it right now!”
The championship game was not an
afterthought to the merger. They were trying to get
games played. Even in the merger they negotiated
things like, “When will we play exhibition games
against each other?”
By October with the 1966 pro football
season at full throttle, a site for the staging of
the AFL-NFL Championship Game scheduled for January
8, 1967 still had not been selected. There was
agreement by all the members of the NFL site
selection Committee that the game be played in a
warm weather location.
Growing up in Southern California,
Pete Rozelle knew January weather there was what
could generally be counted on. He also knew that
comfort for the crowd and a game that could
televised well were crucial. The native Californian
also knew that a field where players had solid
footing would better showcase the talents of all who
played in the game. His reasoning was that a
Southern California venue would be fair to all on a
field that was not frozen, not impacted by weather.
Arthur Daley of the New York Times
agreed: "Under no conditions should this
classic-to-be ever be entrusted to the whims of the
weatherman. By mid-January, it's possible that snow
in Green Bay or Buffalo might be piled higher than
Initial prospective sites for the
game to be played at included: the Rose Bowl, the
Coliseum, the Astrodome, Rice Stadium in Houston,
the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. A few other sites in
Texas, Miami and New Orleans also came under
The Committee representing the Rose
Bowl objected to its use for a professional football
game. Their argument was that to do that would
lessen the prestige of their long running
enterprise. However, as time for the playing of that
first world championship football game drew closer,
Pasadena’s City Council tried to re-enter
negotiations with the NFL. It was too late in the
game. Anaheim Stadium came on the scene - -also too
On December 1, 1966, after much
wrangling, false starts, and all kinds of jockeying
about -- the awarding of the game to the Los Angeles
Memorial Coliseum was announced. Two weeks later
news broke that NBC and CBS had each signed a four
year deal, a $9.5 million package to telecast the
On November 7th, the Chiefs defeated
the Chargers 24-14 giving them the fast lane to the
AFL West crown. What made the game unique was that
Pete Rozelle attended his first ever American
Football League game.
The clinching of a deal to merge was
not official until the NFL received a special
antitrust exemption from Congress. Rozelle, driven
and charming at the same time, pushed a bill through
Congress making legal single-network contracts for
pro sports leagues. There would now be a league-wide
agreement replacing the individual TV packages of 12
Some Washington, DC legislators had
claimed merger would make for an NFL monopoly. There
was much lobbying, promises made, and promises
broken. Finally, helped by a critical vote by
Louisiana Senator Russell, the NFL was given
antitrust exemption. What clinched the deal was a
promise by the NFL that its next expansion franchise
would be located in Louisiana. That’s how the Saints
came marching in.
All the scrambling and shuffling
resulted in the creation of never-before-staged TV
doubleheader on New Year’s Day. The AFL Championship
Game from Buffalo was scheduled for 1 P.M, ET. The
NFL Championship was slotted in to start at 4 P.M.,
ET, from Dallas.
It was not until the end of December
that the league formally announced that the AFL-NFL
World Championship game would be played at the Los
Angeles Coliseum. The date of the game was changed
from January 8th to January 15th.
HANK STRAM: The AFL had been lobbying
for a championship game from the beginning since we
had nothing to lose. The NFL had resisted that idea
because they had everything to lose. But by 1966 the
difference in quality of the two leagues had
narrowed to the point where a playoff game became
The name “Super Bowl” was not
officially used until the third championship game.
The first game in 1967 was officially known as “The
NFL-AFL Championship Game.”
However, fans, media, players
referred to the first and second games in 1967 and
1968 as the “Super Bowl.” And that it became.