In my dental convalescence this weekend, I watched YouTube a lot—pro football games from the 1960s and 1970s, mostly.
Found Super Bowl III, in its entirety—pregame show, commercials, ridiculously long and patriotic halftime show with high school and college marching bands—the whole nine yards (and three and a half hours).
It was wonderful. And eye-opening:
• The commercials were incredibly stupid, and also sexist. A Goodyear tire commercial—there were many, many tire commercials in those days—showed a woman panicking behind the wheel as she tried to negotiate city traffic, which appeared just too much for her. At the end of the commercial, she finally reaches her man at the airport, and slides over so he can drive. The tagline was, "When a woman's at the wheel, Polyglas means more than mileage." Wait, here it is!
I know, right?! That must be some great tire, to ameliorate the dangerous effects of a dingbat woman driver!
• The astounding thing about the game itself was the matter-of-fact way the players went about their work. The New York Jets steadily pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history—and it was being called so by play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdy—and try as I might, I couldn't detect their giddiness, even as they led 16-0 late in the fourth quarter. Only in the very last moments, did they smiled and shook hands with each other. And then ran off the field.
I don't usually harp on modern players' excessive mid-game celebrations. I save my curmudgeonliness for issues that matter. But watching these Jets win, and the astonished Colts lose, with such quiet dignity made me slap my head and say: "Goddamn it, that's right. Fans cheer and boo. Players play, and the joy of doing it should be joy enough."
And in 1968, it was.