Golden Football Magazine
NFL Championship Games
1966: Super Bowl I - Kansas City Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers

This series covers the history of the NFL through the prism of its yearly championship games.
Note: The gray boxes contain asides that provide interesting material but could be skipped
without losing the continuity of the article.

Continued from Part 1

The day before the game, similar articles appeared in the Kansas City and Green Bay newspapers.

KANSAS CITY, Jan. 14 (AP) - The Baker University Choir of Baldwin, Kan. today canceled performances scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and evening in Kansas City churches. The university said the performances were being canceled due to "lack of interest."

GREEN BAY, Jan. 14 (AP) - A patrolman from the Green Bay Police Department, scheduled for duty in the downtown section of the city tomorrow afternoon, said he did not plan to issue any parking tickets. "But if I see any cars on the street," he said, "I'll stop them and ask the driver why he isn't home watching the Packers in the Super Bowl? If he doesn't have a good reason, then I'll give him a ticket."

New York Times, Jan. 14 - "I plan to spend tomorrow afternoon in front of my television set," said Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D, N.Y.) from his Hickory Hill, Virginia, home. "Vince Lombardi is an old friend of mine. He was active in the 1960 campaign. We're for Green Bay all the way."

Nine of ten "experts" picked the Packers to win big - an average margin of 33-18.

  • A press poll determined that 51 of 60 reporters favored Green Bay.
  • Four days before the game, Gene Ward wrote in the New York Daily News, To be brutally frank, this could end up being labeled the "Stupor Bowl."
  • The oddsmakers made the Packers 13-point favorites.
    Chiefs FB Curtis McClinton, who went to bed each night with a Green Bay roster that he studied until he fell asleep, disagreed with the point spread. This idea of making them a two-touchdown favorite is ridiculous. That is way out of line. The way I see it, they shouldnt be more than a three-point favorite. They get one point for the winning habit, one point because I think they are at the height of their maturity, and one point because they have a strong big-game history.
    On the other side, DE Lionel Aldridge summarized the Packers' attitude toward the game. We have to show how big a difference t here is between the teams. How bad should we beat them? I don't know, but one touchdown won't be enough.

Sunday morning, Bart Starr awoke, took a quick shower, and went downstairs to read the paper.

  • He walked by Max McGee, who needed a shave and was wearing the same sports coat and slacks as the night before. Obviously, Max hadn't spent the night in his room. The two men greeted each other, and the wide receiver who didn't expect to play headed for the elevator.
  • When McGee got back to his hotel room, he asked his roommate Paul Hornung, Am I safe?
    No, they caught your ass.
    You're shittin' me.
    Ah, nothing happened.
    Former Packer player turned assistant coach Dave "Hawg" Hanner disputed the story that McGee broke curfew. I can promise you, he was not out before the game. I checked him three times that night. And I can guarantee you, if he got out, Lombardi would have been on my butt. If he got out and I didn't catch him, I would have been on the ropes and Max would have been sent home.
    But another version of the story has Hanner making the mistake of telling McGee on Friday night that he didn't intend to re-check his room after curfew.
  • Max had breakfast with the team, then napped for an hour. Used to short nights throughout his playboy life, Max looked refreshed as he boarded the bus for the stadium.
  • Coach Lombardi was the last man aboard. He took his seat at the front as usual. Just after the driver shut the door and prepared to pull out, Vince told him to stop. The coach stepped into the aisle, got his players' attention, and danced a soft shoe. The Packers yelled, Go, coach, go! When Vince sat down, Jack Koeppler, a member of the Packers Board of Directors, sitting next to him, asked, What the hell was that? They were too tight, answered Lombardi.
    Packers C Bill Curry didn't think the team needed their coach's surprise dance: Getting on the bus it struck me: Everybody is behaving just like they always do. The players were not the least bit taken aback by all the stuff that went on.
    DE Willie Davis assessed the teams this way: The Chiefs were more talented than any other team we on the Packers had ever faced. Bigger, stronger, faster. ... But they were not experienced.
  • Hank Stram was also concerned about his team's attitude. On the ride from their hotel to the Coliseum, the team was quiet and preoccupied. Each player was afraid of the game, of coming into the presence of greatness - the Green Bay Packers. The KC coach had stressed, We're playing for every player, coach, official who has ever been in the AFL. We have a strong purpose. But that message may have had the unintended effect of putting too much pressure on his men.

Hank Stram, Pete Rozelle, and Lamar Hunt before the game.

Curt Merz

Stram and Lombardi meet before the game.

Stram addresses his troops before kickoff.

Lombardi awaits player introductions.

Chiefs in tunnel before game.

Jerry Mays prior to game.

Rival sideline reporters Paul Christman (L) and Frank Gifford.

Gifford interviews Lombardi before Christman interrupts.

Captains shake hands near NFL-AFL logo.

The mood in the two locker rooms was quite different before the game.
  • Lombardi may have been uptight about the nothing-to-gain-everything-to-lose game, but most of his players were not. Why shouldn't they be confident? 28 Packers had played in at least two NFL championship games. Nine starters had played in all five NFL title games during the Lombardi era, winning the last four after losing to the Eagles in 1960.
    OT Bob Skoronski, however, shared some of the emotions of his coach. When I opened my eyes that morning, I simply said to myself, "This is it." I had that strange feeling I always had on the morning of a game, but this time it was different. I was tense and irritable, as always, but that morning I had a feeling of desperation. I kept telling myself, "If we blow this, there is no next week to get even. This is the whole season, right here, today, right now." ... There was a fear of the unknown in me. "How good are they?" I kept asking myself. "Just how good?" ... On top of that, I was sick and tired of practicing, and I was sick and tired of living in that motel, and I was sick and tired of being on edge.
    Chiefs G Curt Merz also noticed that some Packers were uptight. Pregame, I thought I was going to go over and see some guys I knew on the Packers and say, "Nice to see you again." To me that was the gentlemanly thing to do. They were so tight they wouldn't even talk! I didn't know what was going on until I found out later all this stuff about the owners and everybody being just petrified that we just night have a chance to beat them.
  • McGee dressed next to Hornung and told him, I wonder if I'll get a chance to play in this thing. I guess it's me if Dowler gets hurt again, but you know how little I've played all year. I just don't know about my legs. I know I can beat the pants off the guys in their backfield, but I don't know if the legs will hold up.
    Max recalled the pregame warmup: I didn't even bother to stretch out too much because I figured I'd just be sitting around watching anyway. I could barely stand up for the kickoff.
  • Coach Stram had worked hard to prepare his much less experienced team for the challenge of facing the veteran Packers. However, LB E. J. Holub admitted that some Chiefs approached the game with trepidation. Guys were puking and pissing in their pants, said Holub.
    CB Fred Williamson agreed with Holub. When the guys started getting dressed, they started talking it up a little bit, you know, "Let's get 'em and all this bullshit." But it was too late. They were just building up their courage so they could go out on the field. We were a beaten team, and I knew it.
    FB Curtis McClinton was not one of the fearful Chiefs. When I got up on the morning of the game, my stomach had this crazy feeling, and I knew I was read to play some football. I wasn't hungry, and I didn't want to talk to anybody, and I didn't even want to see anybody. I just wanted to get to the stadium, put my gear on, and play. The ten days out here were the worst ten days of the season for me. There were too many things to adjust to - the weather, the intense practices, the seclusion, the heavy press coverage. Everything was bottled up inside of me, and I was dying to let it out. I was at my peak, mentally and physically.
    Six-year veteran Holub, the tough leader of the KC defense, boasted that he had had so many knee operations that I look like I lost a knife fight to a midget.
  • To help his team relax, Stram decided to capitalize on the fun being made at the expense of his AFL champs. I could see their adrenaline was high; they hadn't slept well in a couple of nights. So on Saturday I sent Bobby Yarborough, our equipment manager, out to buy some props for the next day ... The team was too high, and I had to try to relax them. In point of fact, they had been ready to play days earlier. When they arrived the next day to suit up, trainers and doctors and equipment people were all wearing Mickey Mouse hats, and a phonograph was playing the Mouseketeers' theme song. Either they'd be infuriated, I figured, or it would loosen them up. Well, it was fun in the locker room, but when we took the field to warm up, I saw that hundreds of Green Bay fans had shared the same inspiration. They were all wearing large-earned hats to taunt the team from the Mickey Mouse league, and I could feel everyone's adrenaline surge and muscles tighten. I looked at Lenny taking his warm-up tosses, and he was tight. Across the field the Packers looked nonchalant.
    Stram: Each player had a stall in the Coliseum locker room. I went over to some of the stalls and spoke to players. I will never forget how WR Frank Pitts was so concerned about playing the Packers. He kept saying, "This is going to be a tough game. This is going to be a tough game."
  • CB Fred "The Hammer" Williamson also noticed how relaxed the Packers were. When we finally went out on the field to warm up, the Packers were looking over at me, waving and smiling. Boyd Dowler came over and said, "Hey, Hammer, you're not going to use that thing on me, are you?" He was smiling and friendly, not fired up ... So I said to him, "Dowler, man, you catch any passes on me, you're gonna find out." And he laughed again and went back with the rest of them. The Packers were cool, man, confident. And here we were saying high school go-get-'ems ...
  • As the Green Bay wide receivers warmed up, McGee told Dowler about his all-night adventure and how he hadn't gotten much sleep. Are you okay? Boyd asked Max. Don't go down today, McGee replied.
  • Stram noticed during pregame warmups that his team's adrenaline level was high - too high. Dawson's passes were taking off "like helium."
  • When the Chiefs returned to the locker room after their workout, LB Sherrill Headrick told his teammates, I know we're the underdogs. But let's go out and play tough. This game is the biggest thing that's ever happened in sports, and this is our chance to be remembered because we played well in it.
    KC LB Bobby Bell and DT Buck Buchanan were so pent up for the game that they cried in the tunnel leading to the field. WR Chris Burford durected Jerry Mays's attention to the tears streaking the face of 6'7" 290lb Buchanan. Burford: I told Jerry, "I'd hate to play across from him at the start of this game. He is charged."
    Buck recalled: Bobby(Bell) and I weren't afraid of them (the Packers) because we'd played on that College All-Star team that beat them in 1963. But names like Lombardi and Starr carried a lot of weight. I don't know - our guys just didn't have a lot of confidence going into that game.

Opening kickoff view

The NFL may not have officially called the game the "Super Bowl," but it did everything it could to make it a pageant like a college bowl game..

  • Under the direction of the Kansas City groundskeeper George Toma, widely considered the best in the business, the field had been decorated more elaborately than was customary in that era. In addition to the teams' nicknames in the end zone, a large brown football capped with a crown of gold was painted in the center of the field with NFL and AFL on the crown.
    The Coliseum turf was not in good shape after a season of home games for USC, UCLA, and the Rams. Toma worked hard to make it as pretty and as playable as possible. He spent $3,000 on a green spray job the night before the game.
    Even the hard-to-please Green Bay coach was impressed by the way the field was decorated. LB Dave Robinson: Vince and I happened to walk out on the field at the same time before the game, and Vince told me, "My, my, my, look how far football has come. I remember when football was played in cow pastures!"
    Bart Starr: There was very deep, embedded excitement coming out with my teammates onto the field. We were very, very anxious to begin. It wasn't just another game. More importantly, nothing like it had ever been done before. There was a sense for some of us that we were part of a historical event.
  • Both the Grambling State University and University of Arizona bands participated in the pregame show along with the Los Angeles Ramettes, several glee clubs, a few floats, and 4,000 doves that were released into the air. New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt played the national anthem in the first of his five Super Bowl appearances.
    The doves almost didn't make an appearance. Just before the show, the production assistants were running around looking for them. They finally found them in a crate that the Grambling band director was sitting on because he thought the crate contained band equipment.

    Los Angeles Ramettes perform.
  • Celebrities in attendance included comedian Bob Hope, Hollywood stars Kirk Douglas, June Allyson, Janet Leigh, and Henry Fonda, and TV stars Chuck Connors, Danny Thomas, and Johnny Carson as well as CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite. Ten astronauts were invited as special guests - five sitting behind the Packers' bench and five behind the Chiefs.
  • The officials, half from the NFL and half from the AFL, wore special uniforms for the occasions so that they wouldn't wear the togs of their league - black and white for the NFL and red and white for the AFL.

    Referee Norm Schachter of the NFL, in his specially-designed uniform, leaves the reenactment of the coin toss with captains John Gilliam and Jerry Mays of Kansas City and Willie Davis and Bob Skoronski of Green Bay.
    Curt Gowdy, the lead announcer for the NBC telecast, was perhaps too hyped. He told his audience, Here come the captains, out for the toin coss.
  • The game was played with NFL rules. So no two-point conversions. The two leagues used different footballs. When the Packers were on offense, the NFL ball (the Wilson "Duke") was used. When the Chiefs gained possession, the AFL ball (the Spaulding J5-V) was thrown in. The AFL ball was a little more pointed and a quarter of an inch longer and thinner than the Wilson model. That supposedly made the AFL ball a bit easier to throw.
  • Right before the kickoff, Giants star Frank Gifford, working for CBS-TV, did an onfield interview with Lombardi, his old offensive coordinator with the Giants.
Gifford had scored quite a coup by getting Vince to agree to the interview. Throughout the preceding week, I'd been spending time with my old coach ... and had talked him into giving me a live, on-the-field interview right before the game started. When I informed my bosses, they flipped. It was unheard-of for a pro coach to do that, especially a legend-in-the-making like Lombardi. CBS advertised that interview as if we'd landed God - and to some, I guess, we had.
But the interview nearly come off. When Lombardi came out with the team, Gifford was waiting, mike in hand. As he runs past me, he catches my eye and vigorously shakes his head. No interview! Stunned, I drop my mike and run after. When he sees that, he picks up speed. So do I. I can't believe I'm chasing Vince Lombardi in front of one hundred thousand people.
"You gotta do this interview, Vince," I shouted.
"Oh, no, I can't," he shouts back."
"But you gotta. We've been promoting the hell out of it!"
At that, Vince stops. "Okay, okay," he growls. "But make it quick. Really quick."

I grab him by the back of the neck and literally lead him to where my mike is lying. As the cameraman sets up, I suddenly notice something about Vince that helps explain his strange behavior. That macho bulldog whom an earthquake couldn't rattle is clearly a nervous wreck. He's actually trembling. When I asked him why later, he told me he'd been getting calls all week from NFL owners. ... No wonder the poor guy is a basket case. Vince isn't just playing the Kansas City Chiefs: He's leading a crusade against the forces of darkness.
The prized interview was disrupted by an interloper. Gifford: Just as Vince begins answering my first question, I notice a figure sprinting across the field toward us, coattail flying and microphone in hand. It's Paul Christman, my counterpart at NBC, who's obviously determined to horn in. In desperation, I start tossing Vince my second question before he's finished fielding my first. It doesn't matter. Christman bursts into the camera shot, thrusts his own mike between us, and says, "Vince (gasp), let me ask you (gasp) this ..."