The Super Bowl. The ultimate Sunday spectacle of pulsating lasers and raucous cheers and leggy ladies and fog bombs and budget-busting ads and breathless predictions and overpriced tickets. Heck, there’s even a football game thrown.
Throughout the years, musical legends also have brought a true “wow” factor to the highly anticipated halftime performances, which have featured Motown superstars (Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson), iconic American hitmakers (Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Aerosmith, Lady Gaga, Prince, Katy Perry, Beyonce) and legendary UK entertainers (The Rolling Stones, U2, Phil Collins, Sir Paul McCartney).
Today’s Super Bowl draws a viewing audience of about 100 million. It is understandably America’s biggest annual sporting competition. But, for many folks, it’s more about a boisterous afternoon of fun and friendship than a sports contest. More food — and presumably more drink — is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year except Thanksgiving.
Recommended for you
But it wasn’t always this way. The first such game wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. Played on January 15, 1967, it was initially termed the AFL–NFL World Championship Game. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted something a bit punchier, though. The Pro Bowl, perhaps, or maybe The Big One.
The name by which it later became famous originated with Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. He had noticed his young daughter playing with a bouncing toy called a Super Ball, and thus Hunt was inspired to propose the name Super Bowl for the contest. Rozelle initially declared the term too informal, but it didn’t take long for Hunt’s recommendation to take hold with the public — the 1968 contest was officially termed Super Bowl II.
That first Super Bowl game was far from a sellout. By kickoff time, about one-third of the seats at the 94,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum remained empty, as many people had declared that the ticket price of $12 was excessive and refused to cough up that much cash.
And what about that first halftime show compared to the multimedia extravaganzas we have come to enjoy now? Judge for yourself.
Two men, who each wore jackets with attached hydrogen-peroxide-propelled jetpacks (technically termed “rocket belts”) flew around the field — barely off the ground — to show the audience members what future travel could look like one day. Then not one, but two college marching bands paraded and played to polite applause. Jazz trumpeter Al Hirt performed next. Finally, to inspire collective oohs and ahhhs, 10 thousand colorful balloons were released and drifted airborne, as did 300 pigeons, one of which left a departing deposit on the typewriter of young sportscaster Brent Musburger.
In that initial contest, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers walloped the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10. That game, which saw Bart Starr named MVP, has faded into pigskin history. But the most important thing established that long-ago afternoon is that Super Bowl Sunday has now become established as America’s party day, and who could be against that?
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.