Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What If There Were Earlier Super Bowls?

January 1, 1961: The Houston Oilers defeat the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-16 at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston (now known as Robertson Stadium), in the first-ever American Football League Championship Game.

January 2, 1961: Oilers owner Bud Adams calls a press conference and proclaims his team "the world champions of professional football."

"Since the Philadelphia Eagles won't play us," Adams says of the team that won the NFL Championship 2 weeks ago, by beating the Green Bay Packers, 17-13 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, "we win the championship of the world by forfeit."

January 3, 1961: NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle calls a meeting of team owners, to debate the challenge by Adams. Aside from Walter Wolfner of the St. Louis Cardinals and George Preston Marshall of the Washington Redskins, the owners all vote to accept the challenge of the AFL. Vince Lombardi, representing the stockholders of the Packers, made a speech attesting to the AFL's challenge to the NFL's pride, suggesting that refusing the challenge would amount to cowardice.

January 4, 1961: The details are hammered out. The Eagles and Oilers will play at a neutral site likely to have good weather, the Orange Bowl in Miami. To give each team more time to prepare, the game will be held not the next Sunday, but the one after. And a team of collegiate referees, beholden to neither league, will officiate.

January 15, 1961: The AFL-NFL World Championship Game is played. The Oilers take to the air, with George Blanda throwing 2 first-half touchdown passes to Charlie Hennigan. But late in the half, Eagle linebacker Chuck Bednarik sacks Blanda, injuring him. Backup quarterback Jacky Lee is not up to the task, and Norm Van Brocklin's pass to Timmy Brown in the 3rd quarter makes the difference. The Eagles win, 21-14, and "prove" the NFL's superiority.

January 7, 1962: The 2nd World Championship Game is no contest. The Packers slaughter the Oilers, 45-7 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

January 6, 1963: Again, the NFL Champions beat the AFL Champions. The Packers pound the Dallas Texans, 37-14.

January 12, 1964: Make it 4-0. It goes to overtime at the Orange Bowl, but the Chicago Bears beat the San Diego Chargers, 27-21 on a touchdown run by Willie Galimore.

July 27, 1964: Galimore attends a banquet in his honor in Chicago. He is not killed in a car accident. Neither is his teammate, Bo Farrington.

January 2, 1965: Finally, the AFL Champions are World Champions. The Buffalo Bills defeat the Cleveland Browns, 28-10 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

January 9, 1966: "We have restored order to the football universe," says Packer coach Vince Lombardi. Packers 34, Bills 10.

June 8, 1966: The full merger between the two leagues is finally approved. The 1966 season will feature exhibition games between AFL and NFL teams, a common draft will occur for the first time in 1967, and full regular-season games will be played starting in 1970.

It is not until 1969 that the World Championship Game begins to be called the "Super Bowl." Joe Namath says, "We're going to win, I guarantee it," and he backs it up, quarterbacking the New York Jets to a 16-14 win over the Baltimore Colts at the Orange Bowl in Super Bowl IX. An injured Johnny Unitas had come off the bench to relieve the man who had filled in for him all season, Earl Morrall, and Gale Sayers scored a touchdown with 3 minutes remaining. But the Jets recovered the ensuing onside kick, and held on to win. It was one of the greatest games of all time.

(Sayers was drafted by the Colts, because the Bears didn't need him. They already had Willie Galimore, alive and well.)

In 1979, Willie Galimore, who became the 2nd man (after Jim Brown) to rush for 10,000 yards in a career, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gale Sayers, the 3rd man to reach the milestone, is elected in 1982.

Super Bowls won:

Philadelphia Eagles: I (retroactively named, of course).
Green Bay Packers: II, III, VI, VII, VIII, XXXVII.
Chicago Bears: IV, XXVI.
Buffalo Bills: V.
New York Jets: IX.
Kansas City Chiefs: X.
Colts: XI (Baltimore), XLVII (Indianapolis).
Miami Dolphins: XIII, XIV.
Pittsburgh Steelers: XV, XVI, XIX, XX, XLVI, XLIX.
Raiders: XVII, XXI (Oakland), XXIV (Raiders).
San Francisco 49ers: XXII, XXV, XXIX, XXX, XXXV.
Washington Redskins: XXIII, XXVII, XXXII.
New York Giants: XXVII, XXXI, XLVIII.
Denver Broncos: XXXVIII, XXXIX.
St. Louis Rams: XL.
Baltimore Ravens: XLI.
New England Patriots: XLII, XLIV, XLV.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: XLIII.
New Orleans Saints: L.

(I'll do these for the ABA & NBA, and WHA & NHL sometime.)

1 comment:

  1. 1. If Sayers wasn't a Bear, he would have been a Chief. They drafted him, but he spurned them to sign with Chicago.

    2. I think that the Chargers win over Chicago in 1963.