GREEN BAY – Monday night, the Packers and Chiefs will preview the 50th anniversary of their first-ever meeting, in Super Bowl I, but only the teams and their uniforms will be representative of that game.
Officially, it wasn't even the Super Bowl, it was the "AFL-NFL World Championship Game." Tickets were $6 and the game was played in front of 30,000 empty seats.
Everything about professional football is different today from the game in 1967, which was coming out of a long struggle to survive and was about to begin its ascent to the throne of sportsdom.
Two TV networks aired the game simultaneously. NBC was the AFL network; CBS, the king of TV, belonged to the NFL.
How big was the game? Well, it wasn't big enough for either network to have saved a copy of its telecast. A few years ago, a copy of the game was found in a Pennsylvania attic, in the home of a man whose father recorded the broadcast on a primitive videotape machine. The tape was valued to be worth a million dollars.
That says it all. Super Bowl I wasn't worth either network saving a copy of its original telecast, but a rogue copy of the game is now worth a million bucks. That difference defines the rise in popularity of the NFL.
I watched the game. I was 15 and at the height of my love for football. I rooted for the Packers.
The game was more than a clash between two teams or two leagues. It was a clash symbolic of its times, the turbulent '60s. The Packers were symbolic of the establishment. The Chiefs and the upstart AFL were the anti-establishment.
I was a fan of the NFL, loyal to the great names of the game I had grown up loving. It violated my sensibilities that a rival league would attempt to sully what I had long revered. I wanted the Packers to strike a crushing victory in defense of that I loved.
The final score, 35-10, said the Packers had scored a decisive win, which Vince Lombardi proclaimed following the game, but at the tender age of 15, the sportswriter inside me even then saw the field leveling between the two leagues. The win was not crushing enough to satisfy me. Two years later, the Jets would strike the crushing blow that changed football forever.
When I sit down in the press box on Monday night to watch these Packers and Chiefs play on the same field Bart Starr and a cold day made famous, I'm going to think back to where I was on Jan. 15, 1967, and what I was feeling, and quickly I'll fast forward through the memory of the 44 years covering this game that have brought me to where I am today, which is to say the crowning years of never having worked a day in my life after the sintering plant.
Thank you, Packers and Chiefs.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Chiefs.
1. Stop Jamaal Charles – We saw what stopping Marshawn Lynch did for the Packers. 2. Protect Aaron Rodgers –The Chiefs rush the passer.
3. Keep your edge – The Packers were sharp against the Seahawks.
4. Turn Rodgers loose – Eddie Lacy has a sore ankle.
5. Remember the fast start – 2-0 is good but 3-0 is better.
6. Get him some rushes – Clay Matthews has played selflessly at inside linebacker, but this is a week for rushing the passer and Matthews is the Packers' best pass rusher.
7. Think back to 2012 – Alex Smith was the 49ers' quarterback on opening day, and he beat the Packers by mixing run and pass, and being efficient. That'll be the Chiefs' game plan.
8. Get loud again –Lambeau Field took its game to a higher level against the Seahawks. Why can't it be like that for every game?
9. Wave to the camera –It's Monday Night Football. It's prime time. Everybody needs to play their best.
10. Read "Ask Vic Halftime" – It'll have all the answers.