We made it. Super Bowl week is here, but where here is might be one of the most significant parts about the week. In 2022 the Super Bowl has returned to itse roots. The game on Sunday will be in the same city that got this whole thing started, Los Angeles. The first ever Super Bowl was played in the old Los Angeles Coliseum between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Except it wasn’t called the Super Bowl. It was called the AFL-NFL World Championship game. The Super Bowl moniker didn’t really stick until Super Bowl III when The Jets took down the Colts as 18 point under dogs. And when I tell you the first Super Bowl wasn’t really a thing, I mean it was a total dud. But don’t take my word for it, take my Dad’s.
This is him, Hal Wingo. He was a reporter for Life Magazine living in Los Angeles in 1967 when the first game was about to be played. How much was the game not a thing back then? Reporters and media outlets had to be SOLD on the idea of actually covering it. At the time it was assumed..correctly… that the Packers would crush the upstart Chiefs, which they did 35-10. To get people to cover the game the NFL enticed the media by sending out swag bags before swag bags were even a thing. To this day my Dad still has a clock for Tiffanys, the upscale New York jewelry store that was part of that treasure trove.
So what was it like covering that first game? To quote my Dad, it was a “ nothing burger”. Of the 90,000 seats in the Coliseum roughly a 3rd went unsold. The game was actually broadcast on two different networks, CBS and NBC, to try and generate interest. Think about that for a second: two networks to try and GET people to watch. Nowadays networks will destroy everything in their path get a guaranteed 100 million viewers.
And SoFi compared to the Coliseum? Also worlds apart. Dad and I sat down over the weekend at the stadium for a piece I’m doing for Caesars and he was blown away. He said he feels like he’s in a different century, which technically he is. The architecture, the scoreboard, the amenities? None of that existed when this little experiment started. And forget going back to Super Bowl I. The last time the game was in Los Angeles was Super Bowl XXVII when Dallas took down Buffalo 52-17 after the 1992 season. At that time there were only 28 teams in the league as opposed to the 32 that fight for the right to get here now. So a lot has changed since the Super Bowl last played out on the sunny shores of southern Los Angeles. It’s gone from that nothing burger to…as Ron Burgundy might say.. kind of a big deal. People know about it. Let’s hope the game’s return to LA gives us a Hollywood ending to the season.