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Filmmakers push NFL to allow release of long-lost Super Bowl I tape

Filmmakers push NFL to allow release of long-lost Super Bowl I tape

Super Bowl I Green Bay Kansas City 1967

Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Len Dawson (16) gets ready to release the ball during the first Super Bowl, Jan. 15, 1967, against the Green Bay Packers at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Green Bay Packers won the game. (AP Photo)

Football fans could be in for a big case of déjà vu at Super Bowl LV.

If the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs both prevail in their NFL conference championships this weekend, it sets up the ultimate rematch. The teams played each other in Super Bowl I in 1967, with the Packers prevailing in Los Angeles in front of a televised audience of 70 million.

But few people have seen the game since, outside of a few highlight clips. The networks, not realizing that the broadcast might be valuable to future generations, taped over the original recordings with soap operas. The full broadcast of the game was thought to be lost forever.

That could change, though, thanks to the efforts of a pair of documentary filmmakers who launched a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign this week.

For three years, Jeremy Cook and Tim Skousen have been working on a film about Troy Haupt, a North Carolina man whose father recorded the game in 1967. Haupt found the tape among his father’s possessions in 1987, and offered to sell it to the NFL for a million dollars.

Instead, the NFL countered with only $30,000, and vowed to sue Haupt if he released it or sold it to anyone else. The tape is currently sitting in legal limbo at the Paley Center in New York City, which restored the footage for Haupt.

Cook said he initially thought the NFL would relent, and his film would have the happy ending of the tape being released to the world. Instead, the filmmakers have taken matters into their own hands a little with the Kickstarter campaign.

“I just realized they’re going to continue the strongarm tactics,” Cook said. “It’s never going to happen until we push them to do the right thing.”

The goal is to raise $50,000-$200,000 to finish the film “The Tape,” with the idea that releasing the completed documentary and spreading Haupt’s story will put pressure on the NFL to allow the tape’s release. A long-term goal is to raise $750,000 for the Cook and Skousen to buy the tape outright and release it themselves.

After three days, the 31-day campaign has already raised nearly $7,000. The Kickstarter offers perks for donors ranging from a direct download of the film for $30, to an executive producer credit for a $10,000 donation.

Cook said that, in a perfect world, they’d be able to release the tape this time next year, with Packers fans still basking in the afterglow of another Super Bowl win over the Chiefs. All that would be filmed as a triumphant ending to “The Tape,” which would be ideally completed later in 2021.

“I feel pretty confident that we can get the money to finish the movie,” Cook said. “But it needs to go viral. I think that the only way this is successful and we can release the Super Bowl recording is for a lot of people to donate a little bit of money.”

In some ways, the film is reminiscent of Cook and Skousen’s previous film, “Raiders!,” about a group of kids who made a shot-for-shot homemade version of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Cook, who previously produced independent narrative films like “Napoleon Dynamite" before getting into documentaries with his company September Club, said he’s drawn to films about underdogs.

“I definitely lean more towards stuff that I find interesting and amusing,” he said. “I enjoy stuff that’s giving the middle finger to higher ups.”

To get the documentary made and the Super Bowl I tape released, Cook said he’ll work any connection he can find.

“If anybody has a line to Aaron Rodgers?” he said. “I know he’s a big fan of ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ There’s got to be an angle there.”

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Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.

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