Numbers to ponder, some humor, and a bit of Super Bowl history.
“The truth is the Super Bowl long ago became more than just a football game. It’s part of our culture like turkey at Thanksgiving and lights at Christmas, and like those holidays beyond their meaning, a factor in our economy.” — Bob Schieffer
Inflation be damned, according to one national news organization, Americans will spend some 1.6 billion dollars on their favorite team’s apparel, food, and drink as they celebrate this year’s Super Bowl. That’s Super Bowl LVII which translates to fifty-seven in numbers we recognize. Over one hundred million will tune in to watch the game, one in three Americans, the commercials, and the halftime extravaganza. It truly is more than just a football game and the jury is still out whether that is a good thing or not.
Here are some numbers to ponder. Americans will eat some 1.4 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl Sunday festivities. It is predicted that we will consume some three hundred million gallons of beer to wash down those wings, and advertisers will get rich as they charge seven million dollars for a thirty second commercial.
If you are in the stadium, a beer will cost you $13-$19 dollars and a hot dog $5. Times have certainly changed.
Last year one billion dollars was wagered legally. It is estimated another six billion was wagered illegally.
The Super Bowl has grown into something Vince Lombardi would not recognize. I watched the first Super Bowl. I’ve watched all the Super Bowls. I guess, unless I go blind, I will watch them all until the “sands in the hourglass” run out.
The first one wasn’t called the Super Bowl. It was the AFL-NFL World Championship Game back then. Not only has the name changed, and you can blame Lamar Hunt for the moniker, but the game itself doesn’t resemble the first one.
More cameras than there are angles, scantily clad cheerleaders instead of pleated skirts, Bobbi socks and saddle shoes, commercials that were sometimes more interesting than the game itself, half-time extravaganzas instead of marching bands and different rules that the officials continue to blow. The only thing that hasn’t changed is me…laughing, are you?
Ticket prices for the first Super Bowl averaged $12, the game was not a sellout—the only non-sellout in the game’s history. The game drew 61,000 fans to the Rose Bowl and was televised to twenty-six million viewers by CBS and NBC. The cheap seats in Sunday’s Super Bowl will set you back $3000 by comparison.
Yes, the Super Bowl has changed, but my love for the game of football and the Super Bowl hasn’t changed…even though I don’t recognize it as the game I coached and played for three and a half decades. It is a more fun-loving, less brutal, still brutal game than the original “three yards and a cloud of dust “version. Much more fan friendly, I guess. Blame the old fun-loving, more offensive minded, pass-happy AFL.
As a young child, fall Sundays were reserved for church and a single football game on CBS. That’s correct…one football game and nine times out of ten it was a Redskin contest. We did have a thirty-minute highlight show of the previous Colts game. It came on just before the real thing, just after church and Sunday dinner, what we Southerners call lunch. I’m sure my father prayed that there would be no long alter calls on those football Sundays. and that any visitors would stay away till the game was over.
Still, I became a fan…of Sonny Jurgenson’s lasers and Billy Kilmer’s wobblers. It didn’t matter who was under center in the early sixties, victories were far and in between. At least I had those replays of Johnny U and the Colts…but they weren’t particularly good either, except in ’59 and ’64.
Most every Sunday, late in the game, my father would make the same observation about the Redskins, “I think they have shot their wad.” The Redskins would continue to shoot blanks until 1982 when they rode John Riggins to the victory in Super Bowl XVII. For clarification, shooting one’s wad related to old muzzle-loading muskets and not…your dirty mind.
In 1960 a new kid dared to approach the NFL block…an always snowy new kid led by AFL Commissioner, Joe Foss. We would attempt to adjust our Sears rotary antenna to distant Ashville hoping the ABC affiliate and AFL game of the week would come into view. Click, click, click, “Whoa! That’s too far, go back!” It didn’t matter, early September or late November, the games always looked like it was snowing in black and white on the old RCA. Later the league would move to NBC, a channel we could pick up without snow and no longer in black and white.
These were the days of the New York Titans, Dallas Texans, Houston Oilers, and a few names that would still be recognized today. No, the Dallas Texans were not the forerunners of the Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans, but the Kansas City Chiefs, one of today’s Super Bowl opponents and one of the first Super Bowl’s opponents.
The Cowboys were the first NFL expansion team and were briefly known as the Steers. They opened their first season in 1960 as the Cowboys and continue to break their fan’s hearts at every opportunity…at least this century. Da Boys…maybe next year.
The two leagues would eventually merge but not before the 1967 AFL-NFL World Championship played between the Bart Starr led juggernaut Green Bay Packers and the upstart Kansas City Chiefs with Len Dawson under center. The score was close at half-time but a runaway by the end of the game. Green Bay’s smash-mouth brand of football won 35-10 and began fifty-six years of futility as I repeatedly pull for the wrong team. I doubt this year will be any different…nah. Congrats Philly.
I’ll watch to the bloody end. Maybe the score will be close, or the commercials good. Maybe the halftime won’t be controversial, but if it is I hope it is a “nipple gate” moment. I pray Chris Stapleton’s version of the National Anthem doesn’t draw the ire of Twitter fans who will type in capital letters, “JUST SING IT THE WAY IT WAS INTENDED!”
I’ll watch and heft a beer and toast my father…even eat a dozen wings in his honor. I’ll use his favorite phrase when watching a fourth-quarter pass fall harmlessly to the ground…” Well, looks like they’ve shot their wad.”
The only thing to be decided is who shoots their wad and how many of those beers I heft. Go Budweiser Commercial!!!! I miss the frogs.
Don Miller writes in multiple genres. His latest novel is a fictional historical novel that focuses on The Great Depression and the labor unrest it triggered in the South in 1934. The novel is “Thunder Along the Copperhead” and may be purchased in paperback or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BJYQ3SSV