Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was the top movie of the day and the song from that picture topped the Billboard charts, Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ on My Head. Richard Nixon was in his first term as President, still more than two years before the Watergate breakin and ensuing scandal, and the National Football League had not yet played a game billed as a Super Bowl before it kicked off.
It was January, 1970, only weeks after Lamar Hunt’s daughter had been playing with a toy called “Super Ball” that bounced into the room where her father and other league representatives were meeting in preparation for the fourth game between the American and National football leagues. The bouncing toy inspired one of the meeting participants to suggest that this game should be called the Super Bowl.
Not a bad idea.
The fourth game played between the two competing leagues, a matchup that pitted the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings against the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, was the first game to be billed as the Super Bowl. It was also the last game played played before the two leagues joined forces and established the National and American football conferences of the NFL. Three teams that had been NFL franchises, the Baltimore Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, joined ten AFL teams to comprise the American Football Conference.
In a deal negotiated four years earlier, the two leagues had met in a game to conclude the 1966, 1967 and 1968 seasons, billed as the AFL/NFL Championship Game. The more established league, the NFL, had dominated the first two games between the leagues with the Green Bay Packers beating the Chiefs to complete the 1966 season, 35-10, and Vince Lombardi’s squad downing the Oakland Raiders, 33-14, the following year.