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Replay

Super Bowl I arrived with a splash back in 1967

It turned out to be a long day for Chiefs coach Hank Stram, whose team was dominated by the Packers, 35-10, in Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
It turned out to be a long day for Chiefs coach Hank Stram, whose team was dominated by the Packers, 35-10, in Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Coliseum.Associated Press

Editor’s note: The Globe is reaching into its archives to bring you “Replay,” articles from the past that highlight something interesting, timely, or revealing. This story by Jerry Nason about the first Super Bowl appeared on the front page of the Boston Sunday Globe on Jan. 15, 1967, under the headline “Ballyhoo’s Had Its Fling, Now the Play’s the Thing.”

LOS ANGELES — The last extravagant claim has been made, the final superlative flung, the ultimate cliche tortured. Only the water remains to be walked upon to bring to breathless conclusion today the most heavily promoted and wildly exaggerated sports contest of our time.

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The football game carrying the Madison Ave. label of “Super Bowl,” between Green Bay and Kansas City, respective champions of the NFL and AFL?

No … the “Super Baloney” game played for two endless weeks between the giant, garrulous, claims-staking rival TV networks — CBS vs. NBC.

The first gridiron showdown in history between the venerable Nationals and the fledging Americans, aged 6 — truly a milestone in the turbulent history of professional football — has become almost incidental to the massive battle waged for the airwaves.

Green Bay’s pressure-tested, steady, error-proof Packers, champions of their league four of the past six seasons, remain a firm, unflinching 13-point favorite to repulse the Chiefs, the upstarts from Kansas City, in the thing that really counts up front where the T-Viewer sits.

But while the young AFL evokes no such stimulating football support from Las Vegas, it remains a slight favorite among those who know to win the other game with its NBC “air attack.”

This, also, is an historic showdown — an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter between their TV tandem of Curt Gowdy, an improper Bostonian only in that we imported him from Wyoming, and his analytical partner Paul Christman, a onetime Missouri QB who has logged a profusion of pro football minutes, versus CBS’s Pat Summerall and Frank Gifford, who features a misleading collar-ad profile and a robust record as a ball carrier with USC and the professional Giants.

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At stake for the football teams in the Coliseum here will be the difference between $15,000 and $7,500, the winners’ and losers’ individual shares, plus the enormous prestige that will, like barnacles to a boat hull, be automatically appended.

At stake for the simultaneously telecasting teams will be the major share of eyes and ears of an estimated 45 million addicts. The Sunday spectacular has been fed a steady and fatty diet of preposterous claims and Grecian idolatry by both networks almost to the point of digestive revolt.

However, they paid $1 million apiece for the privilege of trying to wax each other in Sunday’s simultaneous-cast and during the torrent of inter-tribal blurbs preceding it.

Actually, the chances are it will be a pretty good football game, if somewhat short of the Olympian stature sculptured for it in the studios of CBS and NBC. It will be played to a decision or, if necessary, sudden death.

The older, wiser, more sophisticated, and unified Packers of the NFL are the logical choice to win the big shootdown on the football field (kickoff 4 p.m. EST).

Packers quarterback Bart Starr led Green Bay to victory in Super Bowl I.
Packers quarterback Bart Starr led Green Bay to victory in Super Bowl I.Anonymous/Los Angeles Times via AP

But the price (13 points) may not be right, since the younger, bigger Chiefs of the AFL have some outstanding talent, feature both a “multiple” offense and defense, and are characteristically explosive in their operations.

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The outcome is expected to be most influenced by the key offensive operatives, QBs Bart Starr, the Nationals’ most valuable player in leading his squad this season to their fourth championship under his direction, and Len Dawson, an NFL dropout who matured in the other league at Kansas City.

Starr is a onetime Alabama QB who served most of his campus career postured on the bench. Dawson is a former All-American out of Purdue whose collegiate career came spangled.

They are classic “poker” types. Starr is affectionately called Ol’ Frozen Face. Dawson has earned the appellation Mister Cool.

Both throw the ball with extreme accuracy, Starr being more reluctant than Dawson to make it airborne. The Green Bay man prefers to run his ball carriers, Jimmy Taylor and Elijah Pitts, or Paul Hornung, down your throat. Failing, he expertly resorts to the pass.

Dawson of the Chiefs, unlike “dropback” Bart Starr, throws the ball from what Hank Stram, his coach, calls a “moving pocket.” That is, both Dawson and his protective blockers flow in unison to one side or the other, rather than establish a set “dropback” alignment.

“The obvious purpose,” explains Stram, “is to prevent opponents from making a routine head-on ‘pass rush’ at us. They have to hesitate to see which way the pocket moves. That hesitation gives Dawson an added few seconds in which to set up his pass.”

The success or failure of the “moving pocket” may have a profound effect upon the game’s outcome. Green Bay’s defensive end Willie Davis and defensive tackle Henry Jordan, an enormously strong and vigorous attacker, are rated the best 1-2 pass-rushing combo in contemporary football.

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“This is a game of skill, savvy, and speed,” it is properly identified by the coach of the Boston Patriots, Mike Holovak. He adds, “The winner will make the fewest errors.”

The area in which Holovak’s three ponderables may most be expected to evolve is in the defensive backfield of the rivals for football’s most coveted prize.

At no point on the field is skill, savvy, and speed more at premium than when a set of defensive backs is attempting to void or shut off the highly perfected and executed pass plays of an attacking professional football team.

Green Bay’s “back four,” rated No. 1 in their league, if not in all football, is composed of Herb Adderly and Bob Jeter as cornerbacks and Tom Brown and Will Wood (free) as safeties.

Their major problem — or more notably Adderly’s big project — is Otis the Octopus Taylor, the Chiefs’ “sophomore” flanker and a big, tough, sure-handed pass receiver.

Secondary perplexities will be created for them by Chiefs’ big, quick, experienced Chris Burford at split-end and tight end Fred Arbanas, legally blind in one eye, yet a superb “short” receiver and powerful blocker.

The men from Missouri claim they have to be shown that their own defensive “back four” is inferior to Green Bay’s.

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They have a remarkable record for pass interceptions and fumble recoveries. They are, at the corners, Fred Williamson and Willie Mitchell, fastest of the foursome, and Bobby Hunt and Johnny Robinson at safety.

Hunt and Robinson have played four seasons as a deep-field defensive combination and this year plucked an aggregate of 20 enemy passes out of the ozone. That’s a pretty solid record for plundering, even if Attila the Hun were in the same league with them.