Harvey Frommer is one of the most intelligent and informed observers of sports on the American scene. It is always a pleasure to read his work.
In this detailed oral and narrative history, author Harvey Frommer dramatically creates a narrative arc that brings back the time.
Read it from cover to cover. It's a masterpiece. Vince Lombardi would have loved this book. ‘It's a winner,’ he would have proclaimed. You'll love it, too. Harvey Frommer, through the voices of the participants and significant others, tells a rollicking adventure of the very first Super Bowl. The material is fresh and fascinating. I couldn't put it down.
If you ever wanted to know everything about the first Super Bowl, the merger that led up to its creation, how the NFL-AFL rivalry started in the first place, and everything in between, noted sports author Harvey Frommer has written the perfect book for you. ‘When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl’ is a book that delivers even more than the title suggests. Frommer gives you the full background leading up to Super Bowl Ithen known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Gameas well as great insights into the historic game itself from his dozens of interviews of those closest to the action. Frommer’s piece is a detailed oral history of how the NFL and AFL started, what led to their merger, and ultimately their inaugural championship game in 1967, which has gone from an innovative inter-league matchup to the must-see mega sporting event it is today. ‘The idea for this book was always in my head,’ said Frommer in a recent interview with Epoch Times. ‘I was fortunate really, to find guys who had played in the game, people who saw the game, and media who covered the game.’Frommer then combined his recent interviews with those he had previously conducted with influentials like Howard Cosell and Pete Rozelleoriginally for his thesisand the result is a one-of-a-kind classic. In addition to the bigger picture of how the Super Bowl came about are a number of lesser-known anecdotes. Examples like why Pete Rozelle had to spend two hours pretending to wash his hands in the bathroom while waiting to be elected commissioner, why Hank Stram made sure every player had gum in his locker before kickoff, and the battle between Rozelle and Vince Lombardi about where the Packers would practice leading up to Super Bowl I, and many more are revealed in Frommer’s book. Frommer himself admits that most of the interviews he did yielded new information that even he, a football historian, hadn’t heard of, like the fact that ‘Vince Lombardi and Hank Stram and the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs really paved the way for the African-American football players to become dominant,’ said Frommer. ‘That Super Bowl had the most black players in professional football ever competing on the same field at the same time,’ he said. In addition to the backdrop leading up to the big game itself, the book puts the reader right into the halftime locker-room scenes of both teams. While the pressure-free Chiefs had passed their way through mighty Green Bay’s defense and only trailed 14–10 at the mid-way point, Green Bay was feeling the weight of the entire NFLwhich was expecting them to not only win, but to thoroughly dominate the winner of this upstart league in their first-ever matchup. But Lombardionly the greatest coach in NFL historyknew just what to say, according to former Green Bay Packer Willie Davis, who takes you right inside the locker room in Frommer’s book, to listen to Lombardi’s speech: ‘We played 30 minutes of football adjusting to the Kansas City Chiefs, and we’re probably okay, but what I want you to do is go out and play 30 minutes of Green Bay Packer football and see how the Chiefs adjust to you,’ Davis recalls Lombardi saying. ‘We all looked at each other and it was like, ‘Wow!'’ he added. It’s the kind of insight only Frommer’s must-read book has. Highly recommended.
As the Super Bowl nears its 50th birthday, Frommer (Five O’Clock Lightning), a veteran sports writer, expertly takes readers behind the scenes of the historic first game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs on January 15, 1967. Using a slew of oral interviews from players, coaches, and league officials, Frommer demonstrates how the veteran NFL and the fledgling American Football League imposed their will on American sports and fought to dethrone baseball as the national pastime. Frommer’s well-researched account tells how the controversial merger of the two leagues, under Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s stewardship, developed American football from 14 NFL teams in 1965 to a combined 24 teams in 1966. Frommer also highlights the eccentric character of the opposing coaches, the tough Packers head Vince Lombardi and the strutting Hank Stram, as they piloted their teams, the bigger Chiefs against the more experienced Packers, to a 35-10 victory for the latter. This complete overview of the mythic first Super Bowl is a win for all football fans. (Sept.)
"While the scope of the Super Bowl has reached proportions bordering on overwhelming, Harvey Frommer’s When It Was Just A Game: Remembering The First Super Bowl reminds us why it captured the American sports fan’s passion in the first place. It’s a great read for any lover of football, especially those who appreciate the game’s history."
In Harvey Frommer’s sure hands with oral history, this book is a treasure.
One of the main points of this occasionally repetitious oral history is that the Super Bowl has become such a spectacle and de facto American holiday that it's easy to forget it began as a simple football game just 50 years ago and didn't even sell out the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. That inaugral event was organized to determine the 1966 professional football champion between two warring leagues that ultimately agreed to merge. The Green Bay Packers, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, represented the older league. The American Football League representative was fortuitous as well, in that the larger and younger Kansas City Chiefs, coached by Hank Stram, were emblematic of the upstart league's strategic originality. After a competitive first half, the savvy Packers blazed ahead. Frommer (Five O'Clock Lightning) notes that both teams were in the forefront of employing African American players. This is a well-executed retelling of the game and its surroundings from all points of view: officials, coaches, players, the media, and even fans. Among the narrative's best parts are the late Stram's detailed recollections from an unpublished manuscript made available to the author from Stram's son. VERDICT Consistently fascinating, this book will appeal to all football fans.