Norma Hunt was buying some gifts for her young children in a Dallas toy store when she came across some balls that bounced so high they could go over a small house.
Her husband, the late Lamar Hunt, noticed what fun the kids were having with the Super Balls, shortly before the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs went to a league meeting.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“It just popped into his head,” Norma Hunt said. “He thought Super Bowl is what the name of the game should be.”
Others thought it was a bit corny, even though it was used unofficially from the first game in Los Angeles in 1967. Commissioner Pete Rozelle even held a contest with media members to come up with a different name, and it wasn’t until two AFL-NFL Championship games had been played before Rozelle decided to officially call it the Super Bowl.
“I loved it from the very beginning,” said Hunt, whose husband was one of the founders of the AFL. “Several years later he (Rozelle) wrote Lamar and told him what a great idea it really was.”
Hunt recalled the origin of the name Super Bowl on Friday during a gathering of 16 people who will have been to all 50 Super Bowls after Sunday. They included Hunt, the only woman in the group, eight fans, a groundskeeper and six reporters and photographers.
From finding a fuming Vince Lombardi in front of a Santa Barbara hotel for the first game in 1967 to seeing the game’s greatest moments, they shared moments of times gone by in what has become the biggest game in sports.
Detroit News writer Jerry Green remembered attending a party put on by Rozelle at a Los Angeles hotel for the first game, when writers were squared off in camps supporting teams from the upstart AFL and those of the established NFL.
“All the guys from NFL cities sat on one side of the ballroom while the AFL writers sat on the other side,” Green said. “We were sort of glaring at them and they glared at us.”
Not surprisingly, several of the best memories revolved around Joe Namath leading the New York Jets to an upset win in the third Super Bowl, which finally gave the AFL credibility as an equal to the NFL.
Green was one of those in the famous photo taken by Walter Iooss, Jr. of Sports Illustrated talking to Namath as he tanned himself poolside in Florida instead of attending press conferences with his teammates. Also in the picture were Brent Musburger, two women who went to all of Namath’s games and a writer used a newspaper to cover his head from the sun.
“If the Jets would have lost that game that picture would have been locked in the files forever,” Iooss said.
David Tyree‘s helmet catch that helped the Giants upset the Patriots in 2008 still sticks with Donald Crisman, a Patriots fan who has been to every game.
“One of my nightmares,” he said.
Some of the moments happened during halftime. In New Orleans, where three Super Bowls were held in the early 1970s, Iooss remembers a stripper running onto the field in a bikini, while security chased her and tried to cover her with a fur coat.
Jerry Izenberg, the Star-Ledger (N.J.) columnist, was asked if he was happy to make it to 50 Super Bowls.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” Izenberg said.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.