As Super Bowl 50 (no, they’re not going with Super Bowl L) approaches, the NFL and so many different outlets have been bringing you the best Super Bowl moments, players, games and just about any other thing you could think of. It’s kind of a big deal. The television ratings will be through the roof as they always are for the Super Bowl and there are plenty of anniversaries to celebrate as well. It’s been 30 years since the Chicago Bears won their first and only Super Bowl, that being their victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. It’s been 25 years since Scott Norwood went wide right at Super Bowl XXV. It’s been 20 years since the Dallas Cowboys won their fifth and last Super Bowl with a 27-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. The list goes on and on and as Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos gets closer, people will be seeing highlight after highlight from original game footage from all the previous Super Bowl games…except for one, Super Bowl I.
According to the New York Times, there is only one copy of the original broadcast of Super Bowl I and the NFL does not own it and they don’t even want to.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 2, 2016
Super Bowl I, played on January 15, 1967, featured the NFL’s Green Bay Packers defeating the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10. In the only simulcast in Super Bowl history, both CBS and NBC aired the very first Super Bowl as both networks had the right to air the game. However, neither network preserved the tapes and any footage from the original broadcast of Super Bowl I was thought to be lost. It turns out that 47-year-old Troy Haupt, a nurse anesthetist from North Carolina, has had a copy of that Super Bowl for years.
It turns out that Haupt’s father, Martin, a man Troy never knew, had somehow managed to record Super Bowl I on a Quadruplex taping machine (this was obviously long before the days of the VCR) with a set of two-inch Scotch tapes. Not even Troy’s mother, Beth Rebuck, knew what Martin did for a living back then, so how he managed to get this done remains a mystery. However, after Troy was born and Martin and Beth had divorced, Martin told Beth about what he had done (some eight years after the fact). Martin Haupt would soon after die of cancer and the Super Bowl I tapes were what he left as an heirloom. As Rebuck puts it, “He said maybe they could help pay for the kids’ education.” She stored them away and had no idea that she owned an important piece of Super Bowl history.
The years passed as the Super Bowl I tapes collected dust in her attic. Then, in 2005, Sports Illustrated ran a piece about that Super Bowl I footage being a “lost treasure” and could be worth up to a million dollars. Soon after, Troy Haupt would receive a phone call from a childhood friend, Clint Hepner.
“‘He said, ‘Remember when we were 10 and in your mom’s attic playing board games and saw this box with metal cases in it that said Super Bowl I?” Haupt said. ‘I had no idea what he was talking about and he said, ‘Talk to your mom,’ and Mom said, ‘Yeah, they’re up in the attic.” She added: ‘I remarried. The kids grew up and we talked about the tapes once in a while. But my husband was skeptical about what was on them.'”
What was on them was the original Super Bowl I broadcast as it aired on CBS, minus the halftime show and part of the third quarter.
“It’s like he thought he would run out of tape,” Troy Haupt said.
The unique Super Bowl tapes have the original commentary from Ray Scott and Frank Gifford in the first half and Jack Whitaker in the second half. One of the funny notes from the Super Bowl I call is Gifford referring to Hall of Famer and winning head coach of Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II, Vince Lombardi, as “Vinny”.
Haupt would end up taking the Super Bowl tapes to the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan to get them restored.
“‘The first Super Bowl was always our holy grail of lost sports programs, appearing on our Most Wanted List for years,’ said Ron Simon, the Paley Center’s television and radio curator.”
Haupt hoped to sell the Super Bowl footage to the NFL, but found out that it wasn’t that simple. Over the past five years, through a lawyer as an unidentified client, he has been unsuccessful in those attempts. The Super Bowl I broadcast doesn’t seem to be as important to the NFL as he hoped. His offer to sell for $1 million was countered with a $30,000 offer from the league. The offer never got bigger and now the NFL doesn’t want anything to do with Haupt’s Super Bowl relic.
“‘It’s awesome to have the tapes, but it’s frustrating that we can’t do anything with them,’ Haupt said. ‘It’s like you’ve won the golden ticket but you can’t get into the chocolate factory.'”
As it turns out, the league has some old Super Bowl I footage of their own. It’s not from the original broadcast, but from the NFL Films archives. As somewhat of a tactic to show they didn’t need Haupt’s tapes, the NFL Network televised a reconstructed version of Super Bowl I, where they pieced together plays to show the entire game and had people discussing the game as it was shown, including players that actually took part in the historic Super Bowl.
As this year’s Super Bowl approached, Haupt decided it was time to come forward as the owner of the tapes and tell his story. He claims that CBS, who will be airing Super Bowl 50, agreed to pay him $25,000 and give him two tickets to the Super Bowl if he came on their Super Bowl pregame show. A producer would be watching the restored digital version of the Super Bowl I tapes at the Paley Center while a camera crew would be at Haupt’s home speaking with him. He hoped that the segment would convince the NFL to listen to what he had to say.
“‘It was my right to tell my story, and they were paying me for it,’ Haupt said.”
Haupt’s lawyer, Steve Harwood, claims that the NFL ordered CBS not to pay him and shut the deal down. The NFL is denying any involvement.
“‘They said they’d still put Troy on but couldn’t pay,’ Harwood said. ‘After dealing with the N.F.L. all these years, and with CBS, which screwed up, Troy said he wouldn’t do it for free.'”
As the NFL owns the actual content from the Super Bowl tapes owned by Haupt, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever see a dime for his Super Bowl memorabilia. The league is the only party that can buy it as selling it to a third party would be illegal. Former NFL lawyer Jodi Balsam explains why.
“What the league technically has is a property right in the game information and they are the only ones who can profit from that.”
With that knowledge, Haupt wants to jointly sell Super Bowl I and give the money to charity, but the league doesn’t seem to want to do that either and even went so far as to issue him a warning regarding the Super Bowl tapes.
“‘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 subjective relief and special damages, among other remedies.'”
With the 50th Super Bowl coming up, Haupt thought for sure this would be the time for his own Super Bowl history to play out.
“This year had to be the year, with all the hype of Super Bowl 50,” Haupt said.
Nobody knows how this Super Bowl saga will end, if ever. What we do know is that the only broadcast of Super Bowl I remains hidden from the world, except for Troy Haupt.
Super Bowl 50 airs this Sunday on CBS.