When the 2-0 Green Bay Packers will host the 1-1 Kansas City Chiefs this upcoming Monday night at Lambeau Field, they will be attempting to do what no other Packers team has ever done to the Chiefs in the regular season.
That is, beat them at home. The Chiefs have never lost at Lambeau Field (3-0) and when Kansas City played at County Stadium in Milwaukee versus the Pack in 1973, the two teams tied.
In the overall series between the two teams in the regular season, the Chiefs hold a 7-2-1 edge.
The first time the two teams met was in the very first Super Bowl.
The Packers were 12-2 in the Western Conference during the1966 season and defeated the Dallas Cowboys 34-27 in the NFL title game.
The Chiefs were 11-2-1 that season and defeated the Buffalo Bills 31-7 in the AFL title game.
When the two teams met in Super Bowl I, the Packers ended up winning the game 35-10, as quarterback Bart Starr was named the MVP of the game.
No. 15 completed 16-of-23 passes for 250 yards and also threw two touchdown passes. Starr was especially deadly on third down, as the Packers were able to convert 11-of-15 chances on that crucial down.
The game was played on January 15, 1967 and most people called it the AFL-NFL World Championship Game then, as opposed to the Super Bowl.
How the championship game got it’s Super Bowl name actually came from Lamar Hunt’s daughter. Hunt was the then-owner of the Chiefs, and like most kids of that era, Hunt’s daughter had a super ball.
The super ball was a rubber ball (with something super inside it) that could bounce way up into the air from the sidewalk and over houses. I had one myself. Anyway, that is how the title game between the NFL and the AFL got its name.
The game occurred after the merger of the two leagues in June of 1966, after the AFL had been trying to sign big-name stars out of the NFL as well as bidding against them to sign talent out of the college ranks after their respective drafts.
To illustrate the magnitude of the game, it was televised by not one, but by two networks, CBS and NBC. CBS was the NFL’s network, while NBC was the AFL‘s network. Between the two, there were over 51 million viewers that day.
The event was also the only game in Super Bowl history that was not a sellout. It was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the attendance was only 61,946 in a stadium that could seat close to 93,000 people in it. Why?
For one thing, Los Angeles wasn’t awarded the game until six weeks before the event, nor was a date set until then. Not exactly a well-planned event, to be sure.
Back to the Monday night contest between the Packers and the Chiefs. The Packers are honoring their Super Bowl I team at the game.
This will include players such as Donny Anderson, Zeke Bratkowski, Allen Brown, Tom Brown, Bill Curry, Carroll Dale, Willie Davis, Boyd Dowler, Marv Fleming, Jim Grabowski, Forrest Gregg, Doug Hart, Dave Hathcock, Jerry Kramer, Red Mack, Dave Robinson, Jim Taylor and Steve Wright.
I had a chance to talk to talk with Kramer recently, and he gave me his thoughts about that Super Bowl I team.
Kramer first talked about the mindset of the Packers going into that first Super Bowl.
“It’s interesting, because we didn’t really the think the Kansas City Chiefs were a very good football team,” Kramer said. “We didn’t know, because we didn’t know anyone who had played them. We didn’t have any team to measure them against.
“I remember watching the Chiefs defense while we were watching film, and their two safeties ran into one and another. All of a sudden Max [McGee] starts doing the merrie melodies and looney tunes theme song and we all cracked up.
“So we were not really prepared for that first quarter and the quality of talent that showed up for the Chiefs. You were playing against guys like Buck Buchanan, E.J. Holub, Johnny Robinson and Bobby Bell. They had some damn fine football players!”
The Packers only led 14-10 at halftime. But things were completely different in the second half.
Safety Willie Wood picked off a Len Dawson pass early in the third quarter and returned it 50 yards to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Elijah Pitts.
Kramer explained what happened after that.
“We lined up for the extra point against the Chiefs,” Kramer said. “And that’s place where a defender can take a whack at a guy’s head while he’s blocking because it’s exposed. But the kid who was against me just leaned on me with the force of a good feather duster and groaned loudly.
“He used minimum pressure with his effort. He wasn’t trying to block the kick or do anything. After that, I knew the game was over.”
While the Packers were surprised early in the game by the Chiefs, their head coach wasn’t.
“Coach Lombardi knew how good the Chiefs were,” Kramer said. “He tried to impress us about the quality of the team as he raised the fine for breaking curfew from $500 to $5,000.”
That didn’t stop McGee from sneaking out the night before the game, however.
McGee was a star receiver for the Packers in Lombardi’s early years in Green Bay, but in 1965 and 1966, McGee didn’t get a lot of playing time. When he did, he was very clutch.
Before Super Bowl I, McGee caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Starr that was the difference in the 34-27 1966 NFL championship game win at the Cotton Bowl against the Cowboys. But Super Bowl I was where he really made his legend.
McGee didn’t expect to play, so he snuck out after curfew the night before the game. McGee couldn’t convince roommate Paul Hornung to go with him that night. No matter, McGee stayed out late that evening and didn’t return until the team breakfast the next morning.
Little did he know what was going to happen that day as he got a one-hour cat nap after breakfast. Starting wide receiver Boyd Dowler injured his shoulder early in the game and McGee had to go in to replace him. McGee was startled as he heard Lombardi yell, “McGee! McGee! Get your ass in there.”
Max got his behind in there all right. Besides catching the first touchdown pass in Super Bowl history, No. 85 put up amazing stats, as he ended up with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Kramer talked about how nervous Lombardi was before the big game.
“Frank Gifford and I were talking about the game,” Kramer said. “Gifford was part of the broadcast team for CBS and he interviewed Lombardi before the game.
“Giff told me, ‘I put my hand on Lombardi’s shoulder as I’m interviewing him and I could feel that he was shaking. He was so nervous that he was trembling.’
“Coach Lombardi did take this game very seriously. He was getting notes from the NFL hierarchy, which included George Halas, the Mara family and the Rooney family. They were telling Lombardi that he was our standard-bearer in the NFL and that he represents us. They were saying things like don’t let the NFL down.
“They didn’t want the Packers to just beat the Chiefs. They wanted the Packers to embarrass the Chiefs. So, Coach Lombardi had a lot of pressure on him.”
When it was all said and done, Lombardi and his Packers were victorious by almost a four-touchdown margin in the very first Super Bowl.
The NFL had to be pleased.
When talking about that historical game, Kramer talked about the event which is excited him the most.
“The highlight of the game for me was the astronauts flying around the stadium in a jet pack in the halftime show,” Kramer said. “I thought that was pretty sensational.”
Indeed, it was. I know I loved it being a big Lost In Space fan at the time, as that type of activity was part of the show.
In terms of being sensational, that word describes the Lombardi Packers of the 1960s. Those teams won five NFL championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.
Plus, there were the three consecutive NFL titles in 1965, 1966 and 1967.
Yes, there have been some dynasties in the NFL since then. Teams like the Dolphins, the Steelers, the Cowboys, the Raiders, the 49ers and the Patriots have been dominant at times.
But no team has ever achieved the consistent success of the Lombardi Packers.
After all, there is a reason why the ultimate prize in the NFL is called the Vince Lombardi Trophy.