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Super Bowl I revisited: Packers' Jerry Kramer recalls 'Looney' first game

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The film in the projector showed the Kansas City Chiefs, but all Jerry Kramer could think about was a cartoon.

He had Max McGee to thank for that.

As Kramer, McGee and the rest of the Green Bay Packers prepared for Super Bowl I -- which, by the way, wasn't called the Super Bowl at the time -- they looked at the Chiefs as comic relief.

"We had been looking at film and we found one film where two of their defensive backs and the two safeties had ran into each other and knocked each other down,” Kramer recalled in a recent interview. “And Max McGee starts signing the Looney Tunes song 'Da-dada-da-da-dada-da.'

“So we're giggling about it and feeling pretty damn confident and really not too worried about the game."

Vince Lombardi, as you might expect, felt differently. According to Kramer, the Packers coach was so uptight that he "quadrupled our fines that week" leading up to the Jan. 15, 1967, game.

Frank Gifford, who worked the television broadcast of what was then known as the first AFL-NFL World Championship, told Kramer about his pregame interview with Lombardi.

"Here's what Giff told me years later: He said he was doing the interview with Lombardi, and 'I put my hand on his shoulder, and he's shaking like a leaf,'" Kramer said. "So Coach was really nervous about things. As soon as we got in the game, we realized that there was some pretty good football players out there."

The stories of Super Bowl I and the Packers' 35-10 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum flow from Kramer like he's told them a hundred times -- probably because he has. They were retold again this week because, in the year of Super Bowl 50, the Packers and Chiefs play Monday night at Lambeau Field.

Many of the living members of the Packers' Super Bowl I team spent the past week in Green Bay and will be introduced and honored at halftime of the game.

"The one thing that resonates any time you see all those gentlemen get together is just how much fun they had playing the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week. "It was different back then. Really, what's been built over the last 50 years, these men laid the foundation for it."

And they love to talk about it.

Perhaps the most famous story from Super Bowl I came from the late McGee, who didn't expect to play in the game because he was behind receiver Boyd Dowler on the depth chart. Still hungover from a night of partying that, by most accounts, kept him from getting back to the team hotel until after sunrise on the day of the game, McGee famously told Dowler: "I hope you don't get hurt; I'm not in very good shape."

It's a story that Dowler -- who, of course, went out with a shoulder injury early in the game -- has confirmed over the years.

McGee, who didn't even have his helmet with him on the sideline and had to grab someone else's when he was called into the game, caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns -- including the first in Super Bowl history.

What was a close game at halftime, 14-10, turned into an easy win for the Packers. Willie Wood picked off Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson in the second half and returned it 50 yards to set up the first of three second-half touchdowns.

"I talked to Lenny about the game later," Kramer said, "and I said, 'You know, I had the feeling that you guys were trying to not embarrass yourself for the first half, and when you played the first pretty well, you went, "Phew, we didn't embarrass ourselves."'"

"He said, 'Jerry, that might be true. Heck, you were our idols. We were in high school watching you guys. You're the guys we wanted to be like, and so it was probably not abnormal to think you were going to get beat by the champion Green Bay Packers.' I think they eased up at a little bit at halftime. I don't how to say that graciously."

At the time, Kramer said, the Packers had no idea the Super Bowl would become one of the greatest spectacles in sports.

"There's a 25th anniversary book, and in the book, [former NFL commissioner] Pete Rozelle is talking to a fellow named Bill Granholm, and they're watching the pregame warm-up and the pageantry on display at the Super Bowl, and Pete looks at Granny and says, 'Did you ever believe it would get this big?' That was at Super Bowl XI. He was stunned at Super Bowl XI. I don't think anybody really saw it coming."