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Friday, February 3, 2017

The Writer's Life 2/3 - The Original

Here are eight Super Bowl facts from, written by Jay Serafino, edited by yours truly: 1. Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a tough time coming up with a catchy name for the event. Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, recalled a toy his children played with, a Super Ball, which led to his idea: the Super Bowl. Rozelle hated it. Tickets read AFL-NFL World Championship Game, but fans were referring to it as the Super Bowl. By the fourth year, the league caved and finally printed Super Bowl on the tickets. The Roman numeral was added for the fifth game and used every year except 2016, SB 50. 2. Since the first SB involved completely different organizations, there was an issue televising the game. NBC had the rights to AFL games, while CBS held those for the NFL. Neither station was going to relinquish its right, so the first SB was simulcast. For CBS, Ray Scott called the first half, Jack Whitaker the second, while Frank Gifford did the entire color commentary. Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman worked for NBC. CBS won the day, drawing two million more viewers. 3. The cheapest ticket in 2017 is currently hovering around $2000. Tickets averaged around $12 for the inaugural in 1967. It failed to sell out the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the only Super Bowl not to sell-out, despite a black-out of TV stations within 75 miles of the venue. A third of the seats were empty. 4. The AFL’s two-point conversion rule was barred. The AFL used a ball made by Spalding, which was slightly longer, narrower, and had a tackier surface than the NFL’s ball, a Wilson. Each team was allowed to use its league's ball while on offense. 5. NBC missed the opening kickoff of the second half because it was airing an interview with Bob Hope. It had to be redone for the sake of nearly half the TV audience. (Wouldn't it be great if there was tape of Vince Lombardi's reaction to the redo?) 6. The halftime show included two men in jet-packs, called “rocket belts” technically, who flew around the field. Very little video exists of it. The stunt was reprised at the halftime show for SB XIX. The inaugural also included marching bands and the release of hundreds of pigeons, one of which dropped a present on the typewriter of young Brent Musburger. 7. There's no complete copy of the broadcast of SB I. In 2005 a man found a copy of the CBS broadcast in his attic, which had been recorded by his father on two-inch quadruplex tapes. The halftime show and parts of the third quarter are missing. The footage has been digitally restored and is currently locked in a vault at The Paley Center for Media in Manhattan. To this day, it hasn’t been shown to the public, as the tape’s owner is in legal limbo with the NFL over its exact worth. (I bet the league is waiting for him to die.) 8. The NFL Network released a version of the game cobbled together not from CBS or NBC footage, but from video from its then-nascent NFL Films division. With the game’s radio call played over it, every play from the game was aired in 2016. Unfortunately, the tape featured dubious running commentary from current analysts during its entire running time. It was such as disaster the commentary was eliminated from a re-broadcast.

It was a cold session of the floating book shop. Fortunately, I took in enough dough for two slices of pizza. My thanks to the burly guy who bought Sycamore Row by John Grisham, to the Russian gentleman who prefers intellectual works, who purchased One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Reading Myself and Others, a collection of non-fiction by Philip Roth; to the man who bought a book on Cockerspaniels; to Marie, who dropped off three works of non-fiction; and to the Fed-Ex guy, who donated a beautiful, pristine pictorial on the Grammies.
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