The (almost) first Super Bowl.


Sep 4, 2008
Reaction score
The Packers and Buffalo Bills have combined for 9 Super Bowl appearances. That's nearly 20 percent of all the Super Bowls ever played that have had one or the other of these two involved. The Packers, of course, are famous for winning the first two; and consequently having the name of the trophy awarded to the winning club named for their coach Vince Lombardi. The Bills have achieved the singular feat of reaching the Super Bowl 4 consecutive years from 1990-93. An achievement muted only by their losing all four of them.

Worked out to an average one or the other of these teams would be in the Super Bowl every 5.3 years. Not bad for the National Football League's two smallest market franchises. Being first in separate leagues and then in different conferences the Packers and Bills have no playoff or championship games to tell of. But they were almost the two teams to face off in the first Super Bowl, 49 years ago next month.

The Packers of Vince Lombardi in the 1960's dominated the NFL and were considered the world champions of pro football with 5 league titles won during the decade. What is less remembered is that Buffalo during that same period had a little dynasty of their own going in the new American Football League. The Bills won consecutive AFL titles in 1964-65 and in 1966 were going for their third in a row, while the Packers were on the second leg of their "threepeat" feat of 1965-67.

For the first half of the decade of competition for players, coaches and fans between them the AFL and NFL never met in any games on the field. While the older and larger NFL was considered, and likely was, the stronger of the two leagues comparisons and debates about who would beat whom, if they played, were inevitable. And that included which championship team was better; Green Bay or Buffalo.

The Bills coach Lou Saban was considered something of a Lombardi of the AFL and played an NFL style game; stressing strong defense and a power rushing attack featuring a 250 lb back Cookie Gilchrist, who was the AFL's first thousand yard rusher. Buffalo won the AFL Championship Games in '64 & '65 over the explosive San Diego Chargers by scores of 20-7 and 23-0.

In 1966 the two leagues finally agreed to a merger process, to be completed by 1970, beginning with a meeting between the two league champions. Officially termed the AFL-NFL World Championship Game it soon acquired the moniker of "Super Bowl" and as the '66 season approached the Packers in the NFL and Bills in the AFL were the early favorites to play in it.

Both teams did reach their respective league championship games on New Year's Day 1967. Buffalo would host the Kansas City Chiefs while the Packers took on the Dallas Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl in Texas.

By 1966 Lou Saban and Cookie Gilchrist had departed the Bills. The team was coached by Joe Collier, Saban's longtime defensive assistant. A similarity to what would happen two years later in Green Bay when Lombardi retired and his defensive coordinator Phil Bengtson would take over the coaching reins of the Pack.

The Bills and Chiefs had split their regular season meetings, with each winning on the other's home turf. Despite being the two time defending AFL champions and playing with home field advantage Buffalo was a 3 point underdog. Kansas City had compiled the league's best record that year.

In the lead-up to Super Bowl I in Los Angeles between Green Bay and Kansas City a Packers' publicist had remarked to Lombardi that this was a meeting between teams from "tank towns." It might have been considered even tankier if it were to be Green Bay and Buffalo. Then, as now, the Packers and Bills clubs were a kind of throwback to the NFL's early days when pro football clubs were formed in Northern mill and mining towns rather than in big metropolises. The Packers and Bills were also "originals;" teams playing in the same locations and under the same names as at their and their respective league's beginnings.

As it turned out the anticipated Super Bowl meeting didn't happen. While the Packers made it to the date with a 34-27 NFL title game victory over Dallas the Bills lost to the Chiefs 31-7; with Kansas City converting 3 costly Buffalo turnovers into 17 points to make the big difference. Green Bay would then dominate Kansas City 35-10 in the Super Bowl proving at least their, if not their league's, superiority over the AFL.

It wouldn't have made any difference had it been Buffalo instead of Kansas City in that game. The Packers would have won by the same and maybe larger margin. But it might have been nice to have the league's two smallest cities share a link to the beginning of sport's biggest single event. As it happened they didn't quite meet and have been on mostly separate paths ever since. Each would have to make its own Super Bowl legacy without the other. Today's game is just the 12th meeting between the two teams in 48 years. While Green Bay at 4-1 has the better Super Bowl record to Buffalo's 0-4 the Bills lead the head to head 7-4.


Dec 11, 2014
Reaction score
Merced, California
The Packers almost faced the Bills in Super Bowl I? Hmmmmm....I don't think I ever knew that. I have a feeling my father may have told me that since he's been a fan since he was eight years old, in 1965, but I'm not 100% sure. I'd have to ask him about this one. I'm sure he knows one way or another.

Members online

No members online now.

Latest posts