What if the Super Bowl began in 1960 the first year that the AFL came into existence? Today we are going to start a what if series counting down what would have happened if the super bowl had started in 1960. Over the next week we are going to matchup the AFL-NFL Champions from 1960-1965 and see how the games might have turned out. We will start out with the 1960 matchup of the NFL Champions the Philadelphia Eagles against the AFL Champion Houston Oilers. Let’s take a closer look at the teams.
Led by head coach Buck Shaw who would retire after the 1960 season and veteran QB Norm Van Brocklin, the team would finish the regular season at 10-2, only losing to the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 1960 Eagles were a force on both sides of the ball, coming in 3rd in points on offense and 7th on defense. Van Brocklin came in second to only Johnny Unitas in completions, yards, and TDs. The Eagles defense, led by Chuck Bednarik and Maxie Baughn amassed 45 turnovers during the regular season. The Eagles running game was non descript with nobody on the Eagles rushing for even 500 yards on the season.
The Eagles would beat the Packers 17-13, the game would come down to the final seconds, with Bart Starr completing a pass to Jim Taylor. Chuck Bednarik would tackle (and lay on) Taylor at the Eagle’s 10 yard line while the clock ran out.
It would be known as the greatest win in franchise history.
The Oilers begin their existence in small Jeppesen Stadium, at the time the abandoned home of the Houston Cougars. After being passed over by the LA Chargers, former Rams assistant and Browns iron man lineman Lou Rymkus was named the head coach. The most notable draftee was Jim Norton, who would go on to be a four time “AFL All Star,” the AFL’s All Pro/Pro Bowl team, and was the defensive anchor of the two championship teams. Bud Adams assumes the roles of Owner, CEO, and General Manager. The team is in need, as all AFL teams were, of a big, well known name from the NFL to bring people to the stadium and get that TV money. But who?
Enter George Blanda. Blanda had been a 9 year NFL veteran, retiring in 1958 after George Halas asked him to only serve as a kicker, surrendering his QB duties. Bud offered him a chance to both kick and be the franchise QB/player for the new Oilers. He gladly accepted, determined to make the writers deriding him as an “NFL reject” to eat their own words. And that he did. Blanda had two very good receivers in Billy Cannon and Dave Smith who helped led the Oilers to the AFL title.
The Oilers finished 10-4 at the top of the Eastern Division, and went on to top the Chargers 24-16 to win the inaugural AFL title. Blanda finished with a 46% completion percentage, throwing for 2413 yards and 24 TDs.
On paper it looks fairly evenly matched. Both offenses average close to 27 points a game and both defenses give up around 20 points a game. The Oilers with Billy Cannon and Dave Smith have a slight edge in the ground game and the Eagles with wide receivers Pete Retzlaff and Tommy McDonald have a slight advantage through the air.
The Eagles are a more veteran team and look stronger on both the offensive and defensive lines.
I believe that the first half of the game would be closely contested and the Oilers more wide open offense will give the Eagles problems until they get used to the more wide open game that the AFL played. The second half I believe the Eagles defense will force the Oilers into some costly turnovers that they will not be able to overcome. The Eagles defense will be the difference in the game.
A halftime score of 10-10 will turn into a route in the second half as the Eagles defense forces some huge turnovers leading to the Philadelphia Eagles winning Super Bowl I 31-13 over the Houston Oilers.
Next: Super Bowl II 1961 Green Bay Packers v.s 1961 Houston Oilers