Much has been said (especially since my recent photo postings) about Super Bowls I-IV. They are fantastic subjects for debate, individually or collectively. Great players, hall of fame coaches, big plays and ultimately, a 2-2 record between the leagues.
Not nearly as much is said about the world championship games that would have been played if the two leagues had arranged postseason contests beginning in 1960. 1960 Oilers vs. Eagles? 1963 Chargers vs. Bears? Which AFL team would have been the first to knock off an NFL champion? Or was the AFL simply not up to the NFL standard early on, as so many NFL enthusiasts like to shout from the rooftops?
Over the next several days we will run through the AFL-NFL Championships that never were, or as I am calling them, the Pre-Super Bowls. I will post the vital stats, and you all provide the commentary. Let’s see who most people think would be the first AFL team to be crowned, “World Champions.”
1962 Green Bay Packers – (13-1-0)
The 1962 Green Bay Packers starting line up was identical to the group that had won the league title in ’61. Vince Lombardi’s well-oiled machine simply had a bit more seasoning in 1962, and their dominance was felt league-wide. On offense, the Packers were led by quarterback Bart Starr (HoF), with Paul Hornung (HoF) and Jim Taylor (HoF) in the backfield. The Packers were tough on the line as well, with Jim Ringo, Jerry Kramer and Forrest Gregg maintaining a tough right side of the line. They were no weaker on defense, with five more hall of famers in their starting line up. The ’61 Packers were +22 on turnovers, and scored 415 points while allowing just 148, both of which were firsts in the NFL.
1962 Dallas Texans – (11-3-0)
The Texans/Chiefs won their first AFL title in 1962. Coached by Hank Stram, the offense was led by Len Dawson in his first AFL season. The backfield featured an immensely-talented Abner Haynes at halfback, and rookie Curtis McClinton at fullback. The offensive line was solid, but did not yet have the longtime stars that it would in the near future. The receiving corps consisted of Frank Jackson and Chris Burford, with Fred Arbanas at tight end. The Texans led the AFL in scoring in 1962, and had an incredibly-balanced attack that earned 2,455 yards passing and 2,407 yards on the ground. Defensively, the Texans boasted Jerry Mays, Dave Grayson and Johnny Robinson, all of whom should be in the hall of fame. The defense ranked first in the AFL in yards and points, and finished +17 in turnovers.
It was difficult for any team, AFL or NFL, to beat Lombardi’s Packers. While this Texans team was talented, they were still young, and did not yet have many of the players that would make them dominant in the near future – Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Ed Budde, Willie Lanier, etc., but the Packers were all in their prime. Both coaches were exceptional, but the nod has to go to Lombardi. I don’t see this one going in the Texans’ favor.