The Super Bowl. With this Sunday's Panthers/Broncos tilt we'll have had 50 of them. CBS has the call this year, which means several hours of that dopey Phil Simms on Sunday night. The network is producing seven and a half hours of pre-game coverage this year! Let that sink in.
It didn't used to be that way, you know. Recently I was down another of my You Tube rabbit holes when I discovered some real gold. Beginning with Super Bowl III (Jets upset Colts) I've found the actual network television feeds for some early Super Bowl Telecasts. Let's explore the run-up to kick-off on the oldest one I found.
Super Bowl III
Sunday January 12, 1969
Orange Bowl/Miami, Florida
Jets 16 Colts 7
This is one of the biggest upsets in professional sports history.....in any sport. The Jets, led by the flamboyant Joe Namath, were colossal 17 point underdogs to the Colts.
The pre-game show was hosted by play-by-play man Curt Gowdy and ran all of half an hour. Whoever saved the three hour and 46 minute telecast was kind enough to leave the commercials in. A total ban on cigarette ads on television was still two years away and first up at the 1:30 mark is one for Camel!
Break 1 Sponsors:
Rapid Shave Shaving Cream
By 2:44 NBC is showing highlights of the two league championship games. Both fields are in rough shape right! As it should be. Cripes, Namath threw 49 times against the Raiders that day.
Color man Al DeRogatis joins Gowdy at 5:15. At 6:40 Kyle Rote Senior and Pat Summeral take turns sitting with players at practice earlier that week. The late Bubba Smith, who would later have a pretty nice career in the movies and TV, pops up as a young, soft spoken 23 year old scouting Joe Namath at the 9:00 minute mark.
11:35 DeRogatis uses the word "extemporize" properly. You aren't gonna get that from Phil Simms. People were probably smarter back then.
It wasn't until the 12:00 minute mark that the network ducks out for only the second commercial break, if you can believe it.
Break 2 Sponsors:
Bic Pens (seriously... a pen commercial in the Super Bowl... This is amazing to me. You might as well advertise coat hangers or moth balls.)
Back at 13:00. More interviews. This is boring as hell. I'd have been outside smoking a Camel.
At 17:30 several players drone about how the two teams, though they've never played, had many connections. They're all standing on the beach reading from a script. No one said "We went out every night this week getting hammered and chasing girls." But you know they did.
Break time at 20:04.
Break 3 Sponsor:
United Airlines. The focus of the spot is a woman on a business trip. Actually pretty progressive for 1969.
At 21:00 Gowdy has some words and video about by far the most interesting player in this game, Namath. Stuff on other Jets too, including Emerson Boozer. That's a name. To commercial at 23:40.
Break 4 Sponsors:
Rapid Shave (Does Rapid Shave even exist any more?)
Not one beer commercial yet! Amazing.
Back at 24:40 with Gowdy breaking down some Colts players. No bump music, no music under Gowdy. 26:55... Bubba Smith was 6'7" 295. A game-wrecker he was. Huge for 1969.
End of pre-game at 28:00. They're slowly pulling a weird float into the middle of the field. The people pulling it appear to be dressed as potatoes. Probably Up With People.
Promo For Wild Kingdom! Still photo with v/o.
28:49. Gowdy is heard yelling "hot coffee!" That didn't go over the air though. This feed is the network's minus local inserts.
Back at 30:00 with some wicked sports flute music as Gowdy starts the game telecast with the sponsor v/o. They are:
Pall Mall Cigarettes (big tip Pall Mall Golds!)
Schlitz Beer ("When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer." That's a depressing slogan.)
Gillette Razors (Techmatic Razor. They've been fucking with us with these razors forever.)
TWA ("The all jet airline." Guess that was a big deal back then.)
At 32:20 Gowdy makes mention of the famous Namath guarantee. Everyone thought he was crazy. This game made Joe a household name. He was the pioneer of dropping the ridiculous pre-game gauntlet... but he backed it up.
33:05 Shit. A mass marching band is going to goose step toward that weird Up With People float playing something called "Mr. Touchdown U.S.A."
33:57 Acid trip time. Those aren't potatoes. They're people in giant football suits, and each represents a team in the AFL or NFL. I wonder if Hunter S. Thompson was at this game with his attorney. If they were I hope they didn't see this part. It would all be too much. So yeah, it's a bunch of footballs with legs holding on to streamers attached to what looks like a wedding cake. At the top is a bunch of smoke pouring out with a guy dressed as a Colt and another as a Jet. Who knows, they could be actual players. Maybe they got paid extra to stand on top of a float.
35:23 Three Apollo 8 astronauts walk on the field. Wow, they're making everyone recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the playing of the National Anthem. The astronauts will lead the pledge on microphone. This pre-game had to be produced by a third grade teacher.
36:22 Even though there's a 500-piece marching band on the field, the anthem is a trumpet solo. Meanwhile the potato football people are still just standing there.
38:20 Kick Off Next
Break 6 Sponsors:
Pall Mall (touting U.S. Government figures proving that Pall Mall Gold 100's are lower in tar. The voice over guy has a cool smoker voice. Also the Gold 100 is longer. Why did they call them "Pell Mell" when it's spelled Pall Mall? It's pretty metal that you could sell a product back in the day by touting the fact that, while it had some tar in it, not as much as the other brand. Never mind that it still had fucking TAR in it.)
Schlitz ("It's the golden age of Schlitz" and who am I to argue?)
Back at 39:20. That float is never going to get off the field. They're just going to cram it into a corner, I guess.
Kick-off is just ahead and I invite you to take it from there. If you notice anything interesting leave a comment with the run time!
Oh, and my Super Bowl Pick... Panthers 27 Broncos 10. I guarantee it.