In a nod to the past, booth men Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will don the same style of jacket worn by Jack Whitaker (the fellow wearing the jacket and tie in the photo above) when he did play-by-play for that first game on January 15th, 1967.
We listened in as the trio shared a few anecdotes from Bowls gone by…
“We went out and had a full practice where there was tackling, fights. It was incredible. If you did that now, the coach would be fired on Monday before the Super Bowl.” —Phil Simms on Super Bowl XXI
The level of access to players and coaches like Vince Lombardi was much different for Super Bowl 1.
Whitaker: “It was easy. Easier than it is today anyway. Vince was kind of tough, but if he trusted you, you could get to him and the players. The players were very open. We didn’t have much trouble that way.”
And it featured an unprecedent broadcast set-up. Not only did it air on both CBS and NBC, but CBS had different guys calling the first and second half.
Nantz: “Ray Scott called the first half, a tight game by halftime, Kansas City and Green Bay. Jack called the second half. Frank Gifford was the analyst for each of them throughout the game, and, now, the second half, Jack waited the whole first half to call.”
And that second half started in shockingly amateur fashion.
Whitaker: “I’m scared to death. You know, you are on edge. And here comes the second half kickoff, and all of a sudden everything stops. Whistles are blowing. Referees are running around. I looked down, and there was no flag. I looked at Gifford. He gives me a ‘hmm,’ and all of a sudden, it came over the headset, ‘Relax, guys. NBC blew it. They were in commercial. They are going to kick it over again.’ And I think that’s the first time and the last time that ever happened, that they would do a play over because somebody missed [because of] a commercial.”
The guy who QB’ed the Giants in 1987’s Super Bowl XXI, recalls a scene closer to 1967 than 2016…
Simms: “I remember, in Super Bowl XXI, press day, we went to a local high school. I sat in the bleachers, had a few people sit around me. They asked me any question. And, of course I answered it candidly and openly and told them everything. So you can imagine, that’s definitely not going to happen now when you talk about the scrutiny and everything the players go under.”
“It’s really pretty unbelievable. We got to the Super Bowl site the Monday before the Super Bowl as a team. We literally scrimmaged. We went out and had a full practice where there was tackling, fights. It was incredible. If you did that now, the coach would be fired on Monday before the Super Bowl.”
“I remember standing in the tunnel at the Rose Bowl, looking out, thinking this is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. All my dreams as a kid, this is what it’s supposed to be like. It exceeded those dreams. And, then, one of my offensive linemen standing next to me was crying, and I went, ‘Wow, that’s a little extreme.’ And, then, my starting left tackle is throwing up over there on the side, and I thought, ‘My God. We are choking to death before we go out on the field.’ That doesn’t happen anymore. These guys are so excited to play, they can’t wait to get out there and show off what they can do…”
And the man who also called 2007’s Super Bowl XLI remains grateful to those who came before.
Nantz: “When I was going to call my first Super Bowl game, it was important to me to go down and visit you [Jack] and ask you about any advice that you might offer. And because of that [second half kickoff do-over] play, Jack said, ‘Just be ready for the opening kickoff.’ So, when that time arrived—it was down in Miami, a game between Chicago and Indianapolis—I was thinking of you. I was trying to channel you. I mentioned right before the ball was kicked that you had called Super Bowl I on CBS. I was hoping you heard it and knew that was my little signal to you that I was thinking of you and that I would be ready for the opening kickoff. And lo and behold, that kick, that opening kickoff, was run back for the first and only opening kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history, and I thought of you every step of the way.”