Professional football wasn’t what it is today back in the 1950s. Things changed in 1958 when the first-ever televised football game hit our screens, beginning the United States’ love affair with this tough-tackling game. It was labeled ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played,’ and this is how it all went down.
On the rise
Traditionally, baseball had always been ‘America’s Game,’ but there was a new rival on the scene, and it was football. This rough and ready game played in the mud was really inspiring the people, and that led to a defining moment in 1958.
The popularity of the modern game can be traced all the way back to this game in 1958, when the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts fought it out for the NFL championship. This game attracted a national television audience, and it’s estimated over 45 million people tuned in for the big event.
Not to knock baseball or basketball, but the nation was ready for a sport that involved blood and thunder, something those non-contact sports often lack. Most of the United States tuned in to this game, but if it was a dull affair, it might not have taken off. There was no shortage of excitement on the field as the Giants and Colts fought it out in a physical match.
Many people who have revisited this game have noted the plays were sometimes sloppy, but it all fed the excitement as you never knew what would happen next. The game was heading toward its end when someone at the Yankee’s Stadium accidentally knocked out a cable, and people at home were disconnected. Again, it all just added to the excitement and unpredictability.
Football was number one
After this game between the Giants and Colts aired, the nation went mad for football. It didn’t take long for the popularity of the sport to keep on growing, and by the mid-1960s, football was now the nation’s favorite sport. Football has largely remained at the top of the rankings for popular sports in the United States, all thanks to ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played.’
There was plenty to remember from the game as Hall of Fame star Gino Marchetti watched on with a snapped leg, an injury sustained in the contest. There were plenty of interceptions, fumbles, and missed field goals, plus a lot of conservative plays. Despite that, the tussle between the Colts and Giants was compelling.
Regular time couldn’t separate these two evenly matched teams, and the Johnny Unitas-led Colts kept on passing, hoping he would make a breakthrough. That breakthrough for the Colts finally came in overtime, with 8 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.
Baltimore was able to secure the victory after fullback Alan Ameche found a way through from the one-yard line to secure the game-winning touchdown. All of the drama that unfolded was exactly what the audience at home needed.
Football has grown to be the biggest sport in the United States, and it all began during the broadcast of the NFL championship game between Baltimore and New York. If it wasn’t for this game, then who knows if football would have ever become the multi-billion dollar sport it is now.