Up till now the only footage of the first Super Bowl consisted of a few minutes of sideline footage shot by NFL Films, and a 30 second clip of game action from CBS. The game itself, in all it’s entirety, could never be found. There were rumors mainly, that a tape existed somewhere in Cuba, or that Hugh Hefner may have a copy in his possession after he videotaped the game at the Playboy Mansion, but these leads always turned up empty.
NFL historians referred to it as “the holy grail” of sports videotapes.
Well, it looks like the “holy grail” has been found, according to the Paley Center for Media in New York, which says it has restored what it believes to be a genuine 94-minute copy of the CBS broadcast of the classic game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. And if it’s true, it will rank right up there with other great discoveries of our time, along side King Tut’s tomb and bacon flavored chocolate.
An unknown person, who says his father taped the game while working for WDAU-TV in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa., donated the game tape to the Paley Center in order to have it restored. The original videotape had been stored for some 38 years in a Pennsylvania attic until 2005 when the tape’s owner found out that Sports Illustrated had named the tape one of it’s “lost treasures” and valued the footage of Super Bowl I at $1 million.
The game footage itself is not perfect. Although it is in color, the entire halftime show is missing, as is a large portion of the third quarter. Knowing how awful halftime shows usually are, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all.
That same year the anonymous person’s attorney, Steve Harwood, contacted the NFL regarding the discovery, only to receive a letter from the league in December of 2005 stating that the NFL was the exclusive owner of the copyrighted material. Harwood says the league offered his client $30,000 for the tape, but that his client turned down the NFL’s offer. Once they’re restored, Harwood’s client hopes to sell the tapes and make them available for public consumption.
I’m kind of baffled that the league only offered the guy $30,000 for a tape though to be worth about a $1 million, but at least they didn’t sue the guy for illegally recording the game without the expressed written consent of the NFL, which, as we know, is completely prohibited.