This Was the NFL Way Back When

Watching TV Football was a Different Experience

by Jeff Salter

Just a word of history to any youngsters out there who possibly assume TV sports have always been covered as they are today.
Nope.

QB Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts in a 1958 game.


Back in the old days, the NFL coverage was:
** black & white — you couldn’t tell any color of jerseys or socks or shoes. Uniforms were either dark or light… period.
** replays — didn’t exist. If you didn’t catch it the first time… too bad.
** cameras — no cameras suspended on wires from domes. Didn’t have 16 other cameras covering everything from the sideline chats to the pupils of the quarterback’s eyeballs in the huddle. You had stationary cameras on the 50 and each 20-yard line. When action got near them, the director switched to that camera.
** didn’t have “color commentators” to fill the gaps between the play-by-play announcer’s coverage. He had to do it all.
** didn’t have “cheerleaders” in skimpy outfits who “danced” near the sideline cameramen
** you couldn’t buy a team jersey (or cap) anywhere.
** in most TV market areas, the “local” game was NOT aired. The networks decided which markets would air which games and you only had three networks.
** screen was grainy and often snowy — “hi-def” was not even a pipe dream
** if you could find it, sometimes the radio carried a game that was not being broadcast in your area. More often than not, the next morning’s paper was the only account you’d see. ** the notion of a network – such as ESPN – devoted completely to sports (& related items) was not even imagined.
** the only “fantasy” element of the NFL was little kids pretending to BE their favorite players!

Question:
How about YOU? Did you ever watch TV sports back in the late 1950s or early 1960s?

[JLS # 609]

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About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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25 Responses to This Was the NFL Way Back When

  1. My mother was a HUGE football fan, especially of the GreenBay Packers, but she liked the Baltimore Colts(boy, am I aging myself here!), the Oakland Raiders and a few others, so Football was always on each Sundays during the season, and on Thanksgiving, even if few plays got to be seen.
    My father liked Baseball, which I found boring. It was only much later, after I was married and Joe-the-Husband had games on that I started to enjoy watching baseball, and it took me a while to understand why. Joe Garagiola and others TALKED, they explained they joked. When my father watched, there was very dry commentary: “Ball one”, (2 minute lapse),… “Ball two”, …(ninety second lapse), “Strike one”…(i minute lapse…”Ball three”…(3 minute lapse)…”Now the manager and the coach are approaching the mound”…
    Granted, all the chatter, trivia and th einsane amount of stats thrown out has gone overboard, don;t you think? (“He was 8th in his basketweaving class in highschool, he was 8th in the draft pick, he finished college in 8 years, there is an 8 in his license plate number and he is allergic to broccoli.” )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      love your rendition of today’s “color commentators”.
      And, yes, many of them go overboard.
      My son watches the ESPN shows — and other networks — which have a panel of 4 or 5 EXPERTS (former coaches & former players) offering their interpretation of who’s gonna win and why… then at half time who’s done okay and who hasn’t… then after the game’s over who did well and who didn’t.
      Really? FIVE people yakking about the same game?
      Myself… I’d rather have ONE announcer giving me FACTS at those three intervals. I don’t give a rat’s behind about the opinions of “commentators”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I remember listening to Detroit Tiger games as announced by George Kell. I imagine my dad and brothers listened to and watched football games, but I honestly don’t remember seeing it that much back when we had the three major channels. The thing with listening to the games is that we did it while doing our chores, because we could take our transistor radios with us. So we probably got a lot more done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      there have been very few football games I’ve listened to on the radio. For one thing, I’m not a huge radio guy. Another thing: I seldom stay in one room for the entire duration of a ballgame. The ones I remember HEARING are the very first SAints game (against the Cowboys), and one of the LSU games where they played for the championship.

      Like

  3. jbrayweber says:

    I wasn’t alive in the 50s & 60s. ☺ But I do remember how important it was to watch the Oilers and Earl Campbell (#34!!!) in the late 70s and early 80s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Campbell was practically unstoppable… but they overused him and it’s ruined his health. Whereas many superstar running backs will take the ball maybe 30-35 times in a game… they gave it to Campbell 50-60 times!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’ve never been much of a sports fan. I sometimes watched a little baseball on TV, but that’s about it. From the few football programs that I watched, usually at a friend’s house, I think you’re right in your observations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      They also had fewer referees back then. so, if one of the refs didn’t see the foul… it didn’t happen.
      And the coaches couldn’t throw a “challenge” flag to appeal the on-the-field ruling either.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bring back the good old days, I say. I loved watching the Bears, Lions, and Vikings without all the nonsense. Just the game, as if we were there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Before the Saints entered the league in the mid-60s, I liked the Baltimore Colts, the Green Bay Packers, & the Minn. Vikings.

      Like

      • NOT THE BEARS?????? How could you. I’ve never liked the Packers. Too much ego on that team. Colts are okay, though. And what about the Lions? I like the Dolphins too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff Salter says:

          we lived in Chicago for a couple of years in the early 1950s. My mom hated that place. I guess her views about Chi-town spilled over into my attitudes about that city’s professional teams.
          I don’t like the Cubs, the Sox, or whatever their NBA team is… either.
          Dolphins were an expansion team, as I recall, and weren’t even around when I was an impressionable youth.

          Like

          • I have to admit, I don’t ever want to live there again, but it’s a great place to visit. So much to do and see. I was the family tour guide whenever relatives and friends came in. O’Hare Airport and I have a very close relationship. LOL But The Bears were my team and still are, even if I don’t watch football anymore because of all the nonsense that goes on. I was never really into baseball. My mom was a Cubs fan, and my dad was a Sox fan, so that probably turned me off. Never liked basketball, except in high school when I new the players. Now hockey… that another story. Love the Blackhawks.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jeff Salter says:

              I can truthfully say that I’ve never had a favorite hockey team.
              In our last few years in the Shreveport area, they got a hockey team — the Swamp Dragons, I think they were called (odd name) — and I took our son to one game. Glad to be able to say I’ve seen at least one pro hockey game, but I have no interest in the sport. Same for Tennis, BTW.

              Liked by 1 person

            • They wouldn’t let me reply to you last comment on my thread, so I’ll start a new one. LOL

              Tennis is fun to play, but watching it reminds me of basketball. Only faster. LOL I used to watch the guys in our church and Bible school play stick hockey when I lived in Pensacola and went to school there. I’ve seen others play stick hocky and it wasn’t quite as exciting, but the guys in our church and school made it look like ice hockey the way they played. It was exciting. I also love soccer.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Jeff Salter says:

              One of my problems watching ANY outdoor sport in-person… is that the seating accommodations will always be uncomfortable. We’ve recently been to some H.S. football games up here, because our granddaughter is in the band. Even with the (thinly) padded stadium seat we bring from home, it’s still painful to me.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Memory foam pads, Jeff… memory foam. About 4″ think at least. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

        • When I lived in Idaho, the son of the family across the street was drafted as a nose tackle for the Dolphins…I wish I could think of the name.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jeff Salter says:

            One of my best friends (at that age) had an older brother who played at LSU and was drafted by the Packers. However, he was soon released — supposedly (the story went) because he was overweight and under-conditioned. Surely there’s more to it, than that. But it was a thrill to know someone who’d been to the NFL even if for such a short stay.

            Like

  6. Oh, I guess they did. There just wasn’t a reply link this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Clay Cormany says:

    Yes! I saw many great games, usually with the Cleveland Browns. I remember the goal posts being on the goal line instead of at the back of the end zone. That made it easier on placekickers trying to make a field goal. One big difference between then and now is the reaction of players after scoring a touchdown. Back in the days of Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown, a guy who scored a touchdown might get a quick pat on the back. Nothing like the theatrics that you see nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      totally agree about the scoring theatrics. Too many players “play” to the NUMEROUS cameras at the end zone.
      And even histrionics when someone tackles a runner or sacks the QB.
      Unfortunately, all that “theater” is being copied… from college, to high school, to the middle schoolers, and even the pee wee leagues. They learn how to act like brats early on.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. TheRedzoneReport says:

    The best time for football!

    Liked by 1 person

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