Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 30th

When the Green Bay Packers of the NFL beat the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL 35-10 in Super Bowl I on January 15, 1967, Ted Bishop was five days shy of his 13th birthday. He was a diehard Packer fan.  It is doubtful that the young lad really understood the magnitude of this first interleague game because in 1967, the NFL was considered to be far superior to the AFL.
That first Super Bowl was the classic beat down by an older brother of sorts. After all, the NFL had been around forever and it featured the best players in professional football. Back in those days, CBS televised the NFL and the AFL could be seen on NBC. Growing up in northern Indiana, Bishop was forced to watch the Chicago Bears each and every Sunday because it was the only NFL game televised.
Consequently, Ted Bishop’s best friend on many Sunday afternoons was a 9-volt transistor radio. He could go to a spot in the Bishop’s Logansport basement and listen to the Green Bay game on WTMJ radio out of Milwaukee. Bishop would send handwritten letters to Ted Moore, the radio voice of the Packers. Moore would religiously send a type written reply to the young Packer fan answering questions about players, coaches and Green Bay games.
The dynamics in the Bishop household were interesting. His father, Jim, was a diehard Baltimore Colts fan. In 1967, Jim Bishop was 40 years old. His football hero was Johnny Unitas. This made for some interesting Sunday afternoons especially when the father and son sat in the same living room and watched the Bart Starr led Packers face the Colts and Johnny U.
Still, the elder Bishop would cheer for Green Bay in that first Super Bowl because the Packers were the NFL representative- not just because they were his son’s favorite team. You see, back then the hard core football fans viewed the AFL as an inferior league with renegade players who were not good enough, or too greedy, to play in the NFL.
In 1968, Green Bay knocked off the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II by a score of 33-14. Jim Bishop was forced to cheer for Green Bay again. He was still stinging from the fact that his Colts went 11-1-2 in the regular season and didn’t make it to the world championship game. Many experts around the country were saying that the Super Bowl would soon flame out because the first two games had been non-competitive. After all, the Packers had outscored their first two opponents by a combined score of 68-24.
The Baltimore Colts posted a 13-1 record the following regular season and earned the NFL’s spot in the 1969 Super Bowl. Jim finally had his chance. The rhetoric before the game became historic. The Colts’ opponents were the New York Jets. Baltimore was a 17-point favorite in some circles. The Jets were led by a loud mouthed, long haired quarterback named Joe Namath who guaranteed that his team would knock off the vaunted Colts.
Namath’s verbal exploits made Jim Bishop’s hatred for the Jets increase. He became consumed with not just the outcome, but this game had to be a Colts’ blowout to put Namath to shame. Early on, in that January 12 contest of 1969, it became apparent that the Colts were tense, over hyped and outmatched by the Jets. New York won the game 16-7.
Jim Bishop was a barber. He despised the Beatles for what their long hair had done to his business. As he sat and watched another “long hair” in Namath dismantle his beloved Colts, Jim became irate and nearly out of control. His face became beet red and the only thing that kept him from tearing up the living room was the presence of his wife Marge throughout the game.
Following the game, he instructed his son Ted to get in the family car. Father and son drove to 17th and Smead streets, the site of Bishop’s Barber Shop. Jim ordered his son into the barber’s chair and proceeded to perform the most intense crew cut ever performed by a semi-civilized barber in the long history of hair cutting. All the while, ranting and raving about that &^%$ Namath.
Ted Bishop never knew of any relationship between his father and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, but one had to exist. In 1969 the Baltimore Colts joined the Cleveland Browns and were moved to the AFL. Rozelle’s plan was designed to help merge the two leagues into conferences under the NFL umbrella.   
Lo and behold, thanks to Rozelle the Colts were able to win the AFC that season. They went 11-2-1 beating Cincinnati and Oakland to earn a spot in Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys in Miami. The game produced one of my all-time great Super Bowl memories.
The game was close throughout and the Colts eventually won 16-13 when Jim O’Brien kicked a game winning field goal as time ran out. At one point, Baltimore was near the goal line and it called a gizmo play featuring an end around with wide receiver Eddie Hinton who fumbled the ball out of the end zone. The play cost the Colts crucial points and a possible victory.
Jim Bishop sat in the same chair that he did when the Jets dethroned his Colts in Super Bowl III. As Hinton’s fumble trickled out of the end zone robbing the Colts of points, Jim kicked his foot stool through the living room into the kitchen. Marge jumped out of her chair, scolded her husband for his behavior and stormed out of the room.
Now alone together, it produced an awkward moment for father and son. Ted was now a sophomore in high school and he began to laugh. Jim glared at his son as only a father could. Laughter was reduced to silence.  Fortunately for the younger Bishop, O’Brien’s kick saved him from a fate similar to the crew cut of a couple years back.
The Colts’ first Super Bowl win came on January 17, 1970. Three days later, Ted Bishop would turn 16 years old. He would be able to drive and finally be allowed to date girls. In many ways life would be changing forever.
But, neither Jim nor Ted could imagine the changes that were ahead with the NFL. The Colts would move to Indianapolis. Ted would abandon the Packers. The Indianapolis Colts would win their own Super Bowl. In fact, the Super Bowl would even be played in the State of Indiana.  Who could have imagined?

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