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The Inside Track

January 26, 2004|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "The Wild Ride to Super Bowl I."

Where: HBO, tonight, 10.

What is apparent in this excellent one-hour documentary about the first Super Bowl, played Jan. 15, 1967, at the Coliseum, is just how much the game has grown. The first Super Bowl, pitting the NFL champion Green Bay Packers against the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs, was hardly the mega-media event, or the cultural event, it is today.

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle planned it as an extravaganza. And indeed, there was a lot of pageantry, at least for those days. But there was little media interest and the crowd fell short of a sellout by more than 30,000.

Sports columnist Melvin Durslag, who covered the game for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, points out that the Rams could fill the Coliseum by charging $5 for a ticket. He suggested that the Super Bowl was overpriced with a top ticket of $12.50.

But this show, produced by NFL Films in conjunction with HBO Sports, is about a lot more than that. It is a period piece that offers a look at Los Angeles and the nation 37 years ago as it examines the first Super Bowl and all that led up to it.

In 1967, the official name was the AFL-NFL World Championship game. Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Chiefs, came up with the idea of calling it the Super Bowl.

"My wife had given our three children a Super Ball toy," Hunt says. "The word bowl, of course, was associated with college bowl games, so that's how it came about. It was purely accidental."

Says former Green Bay Packer center Bill Curry: "We thought Super Bowl was the most preposterous name for a football game we ever heard."

Later, in a news conference announcing that the two leagues had agreed to play a championship game, Hunt hesitantly predicted, "This game could be one of the biggest events of the year every year."

-- Larry Stewart

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