On This Date in Sports January 15, 1967: Super Bowl I

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the First AFL vs. NFL World Championship Game. It is the first meeting between the two leagues at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The game would soon take the name Super Bowl, as Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt took the name after watching his children playing with a superball. The game was lightly regarded as the NFL was viewed as the superior league, and it showed as the Packers won easily, with quarterback Bart Starr winning the first MVP. 

The American Football League was established in 1960. At first, the new league was viewed as a joke. Most of the players were rejects and has-beens from the NFL. A new television contract helped the AFL in 1963; two years later, the New York Jets signed Joe Namath as the upstart league began to begin taking talent away from the NFL. Worried that salaries would escalate, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle proposed a common draft between the two leagues and a yearend championship game. 

The Green Bay Packers continued their dynasty in the NFL, winning their fourth NFL Championship in six years. It was their second straight title for Vince Lombardi, as they were the certified team of the 1960s. The Packers won the Western Conference with a record of 12-2 as Bart Starr was named the league's MVP. In the NFL Championship Game, the Packers outlasted the Dallas Cowboys 34-27, as Tom Brown preserved victory at the Cotton Bowl with an interception in the end zone, late in the fourth quarter. 

Coached by Hank Stram, the Kansas City Chiefs posted a record of 11-2-1 and won the Western Division. It was the first time they had won the West since moving from Dallas in 1963. In the title game, the Chiefs faced the two-time defending AFL Champion Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs were the road team but dominated, winning 31-7 as Len Dawson passed for 227 yards with two touchdowns.

The first AFL-NFL Championship Game was viewed as a glorified exhibition game. The game had high stakes for the Packers as a loss to the Chiefs would be humiliating while legitimizing the AFL. The AFL was seen as an inferior league, as the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was not a sellout, as just 61,946 fans were in attendance, with over 33,000 seats unsold.  

After the teams traded punts, the Packers scored the game's first touchdown as Max McGee reeled in a 37-yard pass from Bart Starr. McGee, who played sparingly in 1966, only was on the field due to an injury to Boyd Dowler in the game's first series. Max McGee had not expected to play and spent the previous night partying and was hungover for the game. The Chiefs tried to answer, but Mike Mercer missed a 40-yard field goal. 

The Chiefs tied the game in the second quarter when Len Dawson connected with Curtis McClinton on a seven-yard touchdown pass. A 31-yard reception by Otis Taylor helped set up the score. The Packers would regain the lead on the ensuing drive, as Jim Taylor had a 14-yard run for a score. Mike Mercer hit a 31-yard field goal late in the second quarter as the Chiefs went into the locker room down 14-10 at the half. 

The Chiefs had a good showing in the first 30 minutes, giving Green Bay all they could handle as they got the ball to start the third quarter, trailing by four points. The game, however, would change when Wilbur Wood intercepted Len Dawson near midfield. Wood returned the ball to the Kansas City five. One play later, Elijah Pitts scored on a five-yard run as the Packers began to put the Chiefs into a stranglehold. The Packers would extend the lead to 28-10 late in the third quarter, as Max McGee got a second touchdown reception from 13 yards. In the fourth quarter, Elijah Pitts had a one-yard plunge to cap the scoring as the Packers won 35-10. 

Max McGee had a big game, with 138 yards on seven receptions, as Bart Starr was named MVP, passing for 250 yards. The game's trophy did not have a name, but in 1971 would be named the Vince Lombardi Trophy in honor of the Packers' coach.