If you know your sports broadcasting history well, then you’re aware that Super Bowl I or otherwise known as the AFL-NFL Championship Game was aired on CBS and NBC. And you may also know that a tape of the game was thought to be long lost. Back in the 1960’s, videotape was expensive and it was rare for a network to save a copy of a broadcast not thinking that people might want to watch it again.

Calling the game for CBS were Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford with Pat Summerall handling the trophy presentation. This is the only Super Bowl which resulted in a simulcast. Because both CBS which had the rights to the NFL and NBC which aired the American Football League wanted to show the game, they were both given permission to broadcast the game. Since then, a single network has had exclusive rights.

It was thought that no one had taped the game for prosperity. While in this day and age, we have DVR’s, DVD recorders and in some cases, the old school VHS video cassette recorders to record programs off television, back in 1967, people didn’t have the equipment to tape at home and until the 1970’s, networks didn’t have consistent policies to preserve their shows.

But one person who actually did think about the historic significance of Super Bowl I between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs did record the game. He did so at his workplace at CBS affiliate WDAU in Scranton, PA. But instead of keeping it at work, the person who recorded the game took it home and stored it in his attic where it lay dormant for years.

It wasn’t until 2005 that the owner realizing the potential gold mine that he had approached the Paley Center in New York to preserve the recording and to eventually show it publicly. According to the Wall Street Journal, the tape of the game isn’t complete as halftime and much of the third quarter is missing.

But the tape still wasn’t made public due to the NFL’s copyright claim on the footage. The owner of the videotape contacted the league through his attorney offering to sell it, but the NFL offered $30,000 which was refused. The tape has remained in a vault at the Paley Center waiting to be shown and only those who received permission from the tape’s owner could watch it during a private screening.

Last year, the owner who has remained anonymous throughout this time was represented by his attorney on CNN’s Reliable Sources to discuss the fate of the video:

Well, it appears that dispute still has not been resolved. The Classic TV Sports blog found that on his DirecTV guide and the NFL Network online schedule page, there’s a listing for Super Bowl I: The Lost Game for this Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Now unless this is a reairing of lost NFL Films footage of the game (unlikely), this appears to be the tape that has been in dispute.

According to Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, this program will not feature any of that original broadcast. It will feature footage from NFL Films and announcers from NFL Network to describe the action.

Sandomir writes that the owner of the tape has tried to sell the tape to the NFL, but the league has refused and so it sits at the Paley Center, unavailable for public viewing.

The three-hour program will have full pregame, halftime and postgame segments with Chris Rose hosting and  Steve Mariucci and other NFL Network analysts involved. Former Packers and Chiefs players will be interviewed and NFL Films footage will be used.

NFL Network will make an official announcement on this program Monday.

Super Bowl I: The Lost Game airs Friday on NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m.

[Classic TV Sports]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

61 thoughts on “NFL Network to air “lost” NFL Films footage of Super Bowl I

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