Friday, January 15, 2016
The Big L
After years of haggling and unable to reach a deal, the NFL cobbled together its own tapes to produce a nearly full length version of Super Bowl I. For some reason, no one thought to save the original broadcast in its entirety for posterity's sake. The most complete tape is owned by an anonymous Pennsylvania resident, who when contacted by the NFL wanted a million dollars for the original broadcast. The NFL wasn't about to be extorted for a tape they believed belonged to them by eminent domain, although they were willing to pay "low five-figures" for it, according to the lawyer of the tape owner.
Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, didn't quibble when he paid $2.4 million for the original scroll of On the Road, which he has been most generous in sharing with the public. Yet, the NFL and its billionaire owners think the owner of this tape should give it up for the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl.
This is the same league, mind you, that gave owner Stan Kroenke $100 million toward building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, where he is relocating the Rams, and will similarly give Alex Spanos $100 million to cover relocation costs in moving the Chargers up the coast to the Los Angeles area.
The irony is that the NFL probably paid much more for "the exhaustive process that took months to complete" to bring this film to light. They scoured their archives, splicing together pieces from a "couple dozen disparate sources." Then remastered the tapes to give it a sharp appearance. It would have been a whole lot easier to remaster the tape vetted by the Paley Center in New York.
Roger Goodell, the NFL Commish, appears to like to do things the hard way, such as his attempt to punish the defending Super Bowl champions earlier this year for "deflategate," which ended in a court case that he lost, adding further insult to ignominy. Tom Brady was allowed to play the full season despite the questionable balls from last year's playoff game against Baltimore, and put the Patriots in position to play for the "Big L" -- Super Bowl 50.
Every team wanted a piece of this game, but it is down to eight teams this weekend, including six former Super Bowl champions. It is possible to have a rematch of last year's nail-biter between New England and Seattle, which literally came down to the last play. A far cry from Super Bowl I, in which Green Bay blasted Kansas City, 35-10. Interestingly enough, the first Super Bowl teams are playing this weekend and similarly have a shot at a rematch. Kansas City is riding an 11-game winning streak.
It was hard to imagine in 1967 that the Super Bowl would grow into the multi-million dollar event it has become with over 150 million viewers worldwide and generating more than $300 million in network ad revenue. It isn't the World Cup, but it is a huge event that is growing bigger all the time with talks of expanding the league into Canada and Europe, where American-style football is quite popular.
One third of all Americans tune into the game each year. A commercial spot has gone from $42,000 in 1967 to $4.5 million today. Plus, there are all the events surrounding the Super Bowl, which have cities vying for it the way they would the Olympic Games. This is one reason football stadiums have soared in cost and why so many northern cities build domes, as the NFL doesn't want its championship game to come down to a snow ball.
This means a lot of teams give up their edge in the playoffs. Minnesota nearly beat Seattle last week thanks in large part to the frigid conditions in Minneapolis. Yet, the Vikings are building a new indoor arena so that they will be able to host Super Bowl LII in 2018. What would Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, have said about that?