Professional football began in Canton, Ohio, in 1920 when 11 teams formed the American Professional Football Association. Two years later that organization morphed into the National Football League. In fact, one of the early NFL teams was located right here in Hartford, CT, and was known as the Hartford Blues. The Blues played one season in the NFL in 1926 and were 3-7, defeating the Brooklyn Lions, the Canton Bulldogs, and the Dayton Triangles.
By 1933, the NFL began playing a championship game, but it took the NFL "game of the century" in 1958 to solidify the popularity of the league. That game was played at Yankee Stadium, pitting the New York Giants against the Baltimore Colts. In sudden death overtime, the Colts won in dramatic fashion with Alan "The Horse" Ameche plunging into the end zone for a touchdown and a 23-17 win. Andy Robustelli from Stamford played in that game as a defensive end for the Giants. A perennial all-star, he later was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Capitalizing on pro football's sudden popularity, a new pro league known as the AFL started in 1960. The two pro leagues began merger talks in 1966 that were finally completed in 1970. The initial season of the merger talks — 1966 — finished with the first Super Bowl on Jan. 15, 1967.
In that game the NFL champion Green Bay Packers played the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs. After a fairly close first half, the Packers scored 21 unanswered second half points and drew off to an easy 35-10 win. The game was played in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum; there were over 33,000 unsold seats — the only Super Bowl in history not to be a sellout.
Little did people in 1967 realize what a monstrous media event the Super Bowl would become. Test your knowledge about the Super Bowl and Connecticut's connections to it below.
1. What Rockville, CT, native has played in five Super Bowls, winning four of them?
2. Two Wesleyan University grads have coached in multiple Super Bowls. Who are they?
3. How many players, coaches, and general managers with strong Connecticut ties have participated in at least one Super Bowl — 5, 10, 15, or 20?
4. In the 93-year history of the NFL, approximately how many Connecticut men have played in the league — 100, 130, 160, 180?
5. What NFL team that has played in the Super Bowl has the most Connecticut connections associated with its team?
6. What two "old school" NFL teams have never been to a Super Bowl?
7. How many Super Bowls have gone to an overtime period — 0, 1, 2, 3 ?
8. What Dallas Cowboy player is the only player on a losing team to be named MVP of the Super Bowl?
9. The 49ers have been to five Super Bowls already. How many of those have they won?
10. How much was a ticket to Super Bowl I in 1967 — $5, $7, $12, $15?
11. If you had an original program from Super Bowl I, approximately how much could you sell it for on EBay?
12. What is the price of the cheapest seat at this year's Super Bowl — $850, $900, $1,000, $1,100?
13. Of the top 44 TV broadcasts of all time, estimate how many of those were Super Bowls.
14. What is the only other sporting event in TV history to consistently outdraw the Super Bowl?
15. The top-ranked TV broadcasting event of all time occurred on Feb. 28, 1983, and had a Connecticut native as a regular member of its cast. This broadcast drew over 10 million more viewers than the most popular Super Bowl of all time. What was it?
16. Which of the Harbaugh brothers has graduated from the Jim Boeheim School For Whiners summa cum laude? A. Jim B. John C. Both
Answers: 1. Bill Romanowski 2. Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini
3. 15 4. 160 5. NY Giants — 17. 6. Detroit and Cleveland 7. 0 8. Chuck Howley — he refused the award. 9. All 5! 10. $12 11. About $500 12.
$850 13. 21. 14. UEFA soccer championship — soccer crown of Europe
15. Final episode of MASH — only TV event ever to draw over 50 million! Gary Burghoff of Bristol played Radar. 16. C.