The Hidden Super Bowl I Tapes – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Like many I recently watched a replay of the entire Super Bowl I on NFL Network (thanks to my buddy Bart for reminding me about the broadcast).  The game was the first between the NFL and the upstart AFL and was a condition of the 1966 merger between the leagues (and the game wasn’t even called the “Super Bowl” yet, it was the “World Championship Game”).  In honor of the 50th anniversary of the game, the league pieced the television broadcast together through film saved by NFL Films as neither NBC or CBS (which both broadcast the game) bothered to save a copy. But, there is another copy of the game, taped on a professional quality machine.  It belongs to Troy Haupt whose father taped the game in 1967.  There is a great story about the taping in the New York Times (click here to read it), discussing the years-long fight between the NFL and Mr. Haupt about the price for the league to buy it from him.  Mr. Haupt asked for $1 million, the league countered with $30,000 and has not budged.  Moreover, since the broadcast is copyrighted by the NFL, the league has threatened to sue Haupt if he attempts to sell it to a third party.  From the article:

“A letter from the league to Harwood last year provided a sharp warning to Haupt. “Since you have already indicated that your client is exploring opportunities for exploitation of the N.F.L.’s Super Bowl I copyrighted footage with yet-unidentified third parties,” Dolores DiBella, a league counsel, wrote, “please be aware that any resulting copyright infringement will be considered intentional, subjecting your client and those parties to injunctive relief and special damages, among other remedies.”

The law favors the league, said Jodi Balsam, a professor at Brooklyn Law School.

“What the league technically has is a property right in the game information and they are the only ones who can profit from that,” said Balsam, a former N.F.L. lawyer.

But, she added, the league has not handled the matter as well as it should have.

“It seems they’ve misplayed their hand here,” she said. “They’ve known about this tape for years, and it seems to me they should have resolved this years ago, because it’s important footage.”

But until the league and Haupt resolve their differences, the public will never see the game as it happened, on the winter day when Green Bay became the champion of the N.F.L. and A.F.L., and Martin Haupt took a mysterious route to recording history.”


While the NFL Film version is good (other than constant interruptions of the annoying panel of commentators) it would be vastly improved with access to this tape.  Come on Troy and NFL, let’s work this out so fans can enjoy the full legacy of the first Super Bowl!

That’s it for now football fans.


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