The Super Bowl emerged from the ruins of a never played All Star Game.
The Super Bowl did not exist before 1967. It took an act of Congress to create the Super Bowl. The event’s roots can be traced back to a game that was never played, the 1965 American Football League All Star Game in New Orleans. African-American players boycotted that game and it set off a series of events that concluded in the first championship game between the AFL and the National Football League almost two years later. The AFL All Star boycott came three and a half years after Walter Beach, a Boston Patriots player, planned to boycott a pre-season game in New Orleans because of Jim Crow conditions. Beach got fired and was labelled a troublemaker.
The Twenty-two African American players went to New Orleans and encountered problems. The 22 were denied cab rides. Once in New Orleans, the 22 were called names and physically threatened. Within 24 hours, the 22 men walked out and the game was moved to Houston. New Orleans never got an AFL team but when the two leagues merged in 1966, New Orleans became a political football. The merger needed Congressional approval first and there were two roadblocks, Louisiana Senator Russell Long and Congressman Hale Boggs also of Louisiana, two powerful players in both chambers. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle lobbied both and both said they didn’t see how a merger would benefit New Orleans. Eventually Rozelle got a deal together, a 1967 NFL expansion team for New Orleans in exchange for Long and Boggs’ support. The merger legislation was tagged onto an anti-inflation bill and was sent to President Lyndon Johnson who signed the measure into law on November 8th, 1966. The first AFL-NFL championship game in Los Angeles was a box office flop. The Super Bowl is a product of Jim Crow and an Act of Congress.
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