Every year, about Super Bowl time, I think of my old friend Joe Foss. Joe was the man who suggested that the winners of the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL) play each other for the championship.
Joe was the commissioner of the AFL. He wrote to Pete Rozelle, commissioner of the NFL, “What would be more fitting than for us to match baseball in having an annual classic between the leagues winners?” Pete agreed, but it took a little doing.
The first championship game did not come until five years later, Jan 15, 1967, when the NFL Packers showed the upstart AFL Chiefs that older was better. A couple of years later Joe Namath and the Jets proved to the Colts that the new league teams had reached maturity. That game may have been the first to be popularly known as the Super Bowl (mimicking the college bowls.) Joe Foss told me this story years later at an aviation meeting, and then backed it up with a copy of the letter he sent to Rozelle, Dec. 6, 1963.
I’m showing my favorite picture of Joe Foss, one of the finest pilots the services produced in WWII. He was the leading fighter pilot of the U.S. Marine Corps and a Medal of Honor recipient for his role in the battle of Guadalcanal. Someday I’d like to tell that story.