Today's Tidbit... 1963 Ford Football Tele-Viewer - NFL Season Schedule
Yesterday we introduced Ford's 1963 Football Tele-Viewer brochure with the Tidbit focused on Ford's sponsorship of the 1963 Punt, Pass, & Kick program. Today, we turn to another page near the back of the brochure that displays the 1963 NFL schedule.
On the one hand, a schedule is just a schedule, but the page is also a period piece. No one would publish something like that today unless they were going for a retro look. The drawings of the players and the typeface are typical of the period. See, for example, the drawing on the 1966 Rose Bowl ticket.
Still, the more striking aspects of the schedule are the dates and days of the week for the regular-season and playoff games. In late September 1961, President Kennedy signed the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which granted professional sports leagues exemption from specific anti-trust regulations. The exemption allowed the NFL teams to collectively negotiate television contracts and share the monies equally, providing substantial financial equity among teams. The 1963 contract fit that pattern.
Among the conditions for the exemption was banning professional league games on Fridays after 6:00 PM or Saturdays between the second Friday of September and the second Saturday in December. The schedule shows the NFL played two games on September 14 (the second Saturday of the month), one on September 21, and another on October 5. Since September 21 was the third Saturday of the month and the day the college football season kicked off, the NFL games were broadcast on the radio, not television.
From October 23 to November 24, the NFL played all seven games on Sundays. No byes. No Monday Night Football or Monday Night Football on Thursday or whatever they called it. Other period oddities include Green Bay playing three regular season games in Milwaukee and the Packers at Detroit being the only Thanksgiving Day game since the Cowboys did not start their Turkey Day tradition until 1966.
The 1963 NFL schedule is also notable for Pete Rozelle's decision, against all advice, to play the NFL's full slate of games on November 24, two days after the assassination of President Kennedy. CBS, which had the NFL television contract, opted not to broadcast the games, staying with their assassination coverage.
Thanksgiving came the same week, which at the time, marked the end of college football's regular season. There were no conference championship games or playoffs then, only a few straggler games and nine bowl games, five of which came on New Year's Day.
Despite the rule barring the televising of NFL games on Saturdays in early December, Green Bay, the defending league champions, met the Rams in Los Angeles on the first Saturday of December. CBS televised the Packers-Ram game immediately following the Army-Navy game, which had been delayed one week due to the assassination. Likewise, the Packers met the 49ers the following Saturday in a televised game that followed the Alabama-Miami game that was supposed to be played on November 23.
Finally, the NFL championship game came on December 29, pitting the New York Giants, champions of the Eastern Conference, versus the Chicago Bears, winners of the Western Conference. One week later, the Green Bay Packers beat the Cleveland Browns in the Playoff Bowl in a battle between conference runners-up played between 1960 and 1969. The Packers, of course, won the game.
Tomorrow's Tidbit will take a final look at Ford's brochure focusing on the simple, yet innovative “Tele-Viewer” that comprises most of its content.
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