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c. 1967

Photos from the first Super Bowl

Vince Lombardi was there and no one's wardrobe malfunctioned

Sherrill Headrick of the Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Green Bay Packers.

The annual championship game of the National Football League — known, of course, as the Super Bowl — was first played in January 1967.

Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who coined the phrase “Super Bowl” the year before that first championship game, never meant for the term to stick. He said the name popped into his head because his kids were playing with a toy called the Super-Ball. “I have kiddingly called it the ‘Super Bowl,'” he wrote to the NFL commissioner in 1966, “Which obviously can be improved upon.”

The pre-game coin toss.
Rich Clarkson / Getty Image

But it couldn’t. And so Super Bowl I took place on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Green Bay Packers, playing under legendary coach Vince Lombardi, beat the Kansas City Chiefs decisively with a final score of 35-10. This translated into a payout of $15,000 per player for the winning team and $7,500 per player for the losing team.

Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr (#15) hands off to running back Elijah Pitts (#22).
James Flores/Getty Images

Hard as it may be to imagine today, the first Super Bowl was not a sell-out. In fact it was only two thirds full: 33,000 of the stadium’s 94,000 capacity seats went unsold. Newspapers blamed the “exorbitant” ticket price — $12.

‘Lombardi was so nervous, he held onto my arm and he was shaking like a leaf. It was incredible.”
CBS announcer Frank Gifford
A cameraman for the CBS television network follows pregame warmups prior to Super Bowl I.
Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images

And the now legendary and highly coveted halftime show? It combined trumpeter Al Hirt, the University of Arizona and Grambling State University marching bands, 300 pigeons, 10,000 balloons and two men with rocket-powered jet packs — something that future Super Bowls, even with their record-breaking TV audiences, could never quite live up to.

Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame head coach Vince Lombardi watches his team in admiration.
Vic Stein/Getty Images
Members of the Green Bay Packers offense huddle up prior to a play.
Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images

Jazz trumpeter Al Hirt plays the national anthem prior to the start.
Diamond Images/Getty Images
CBS broadcaster and former player Frank Gifford does a piece.
Vic Stein/Getty Images
Sherrill Headrick of the Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Green Bay Packers.
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Defensive back Herb Adderley of the Green Bay Packers, warms up prior to the game.
Herb Adderley/Diamond Images
Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson fires a pass.
James Flores/Getty Images
Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass.
Focus On Sports / Getty Images
A group of sideline officials confer prior.
Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images
Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, football commissioner Pete Rozelle, and Lamar Hunt.
Rich Clarkson / Getty Images
A member of the flag team kneels on the field prior to the game.
Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images
Members of the University of Arizona marching band perform on the field during the halftime show.
Robert Riger/Getty Images
Some of the 10,000 balloons that were released float to the heavens.
Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images

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