It was the day before New Year’s Eve, and New Yorkers were leaving the city in droves. Not to escape Times Square celebrations, but to watch the N.F.L. championship game.Posted by James Zellmer at January 16, 2008 12:00 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Roughly 45 years ago, on Dec. 30, 1962, the Yankee Stadium championship rematch between the Giants and the Green Bay Packers was blacked out on local television sets. Enterprising fans fled to southern New Jersey, searching for the broadcast from Philadelphia, or to the north to receive the signal from Hartford.
Those who succeeded watched a pivotal piece of American sports history. The N.F.L. might have first grabbed the public’s attention in the late 1950s, but it needed celebrity, personality and recurring characters for its Sunday gridiron theater.
The 1961 and 1962 N.F.L. championship games, each ending with a Green Bay victory over the Giants, had it all. Born on those afternoons was pro football’s first televised dynasty with Vince Lombardi as king, Paul Hornung as prince and Bart Starr as trusted knight. And although the Giants were twice defeated, by 37-0 in 1961 and by 16-7 the next year, they were the franchise that brought an eminence to the clashes. The Giants were established N.F.L. royalty, having played for the championship three times in the previous five years. They would play for it again in 1963.