Story of the Week


     January 12, 1969 marked the greatest upset in Super Bowl history.  It was Super Bowl III, played in the Orange Bowl in Miami.  The powerful and veteran National Football League had signed a merger agreement with the rival American Football League in 1966, thus giving birth to the football game of all games, the Super Bowl.  

    Super Bowls I & II promoted marginal interest, however, because educated pro football fans, myself included, gave the AFL teams little chance of beating the NFL representatives in this game.  Yes, we were right; the Green Bay Packers made easy work of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders respectively in the first two games.  The NFL Baltimore Colts were 20-point favorites over the AFL New York Jets in Super Bowl III. 

    Why not!  Even without their great quarterback, John Unitas, who missed the 1968 season with an elbow injury (the Colts got a surprise MVP performance from Earl Morrall at QB), they were coming off a 15-1 regular season, and had trounced the Cleveland Browns, 34-0, to win the NFL championship.  

    That didn't prevent the brash 24-year-old Jets QB, Joe Namath, from predicting an upset.  The Jets' win was a coordinated team effort, a 16-7 victory, and Namath rode that victory to immortality.  His reputation was decidedly mixed, but make no mistake about it; Namath was the team's leader.  He made the Jets believe they could win it, and they did. The Colts didn't score their lone touchdown until the fourth quarter, and it took a desperation appearance by Unitas to accomplish even that.

    There was an immediate change in the credibility of the "big game" after Super Bowl III.  This game undoubtedly unified professional football.  

    Thanks to Broadway Joe and the Jets, Super Bowl ticket prices soared to new heights as well.  If, in the future, the United States is forced to go off the gold standard, tickets to the Super Bowl will suffice. 

Last Week's Trivia  

    When and where was the first NFL championship game to be played indoors?  1932.  Chicago.  The NFL championship game was scheduled to be played at Wrigley Field on December 18.  But Chicago was snowed in with sub-zero temperature, and there was no way to make the field playable.  Bears owner George Halas proposed that the game be moved into Chicago Stadium, home of the NHL Blackhawks.  The field had to be shortened to 80 yards, the field was made narrower than normal, the end zones were not regulation size, and the game was played on a cement floor with a layer of dirt.  The Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans, 9-0.  Oh, by the way, this was also the very first NFL championship game.  Who would have ever "thunk" it?  

Trivia Question of the Week

    Who is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season?  (Points scored, assists and rebounds.) See next week's Sports Junkie for the answer.