Friday, November 16, 2012

November 17 1968: Remembering The Famous "Heidi Game" 44 Years Later And It's Historical Impact

     Would you believe that a regular season NFL game would have a bigger impact on history than any Super Bowl ever played?  On November 17, 1968, a football game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders ended in dramatic fashion. But it wasn't the game itsself that made it still remembered to this day. Believe it or not, it was the movie Heidi. With only a little over a minute left in the game and the Jets up by a score of 32-29, the magical hour of 7PM came. Back then in 1968, there was no established procedure for how the NFL and T.V. would handle a football game that went over its allotted time.

       Since they had no established procedure, the Television Executives pulled the plug on the game and went to regular scheduled programming. The regular scheduled program was the movie Heidi. Because of Heidi preempting the finish of the game, it caused the switchboard at NBC and it's affiliates to light up.  Football fans were furious that they would not be able to view the end of the game on television.  The Jets had just kicked a field goal to take a three point lead and were set to kick off to the Raiders. The last play that viewers saw was the kickoff return, which Oakland brought out to their own 22 when the closing theme of the NFL came on and the cue was given to start NBC's original scheduled time of broadcasting for the movie Heidi. Meanwhile as fans were going irate because they were not able to see the finish of the game, Oakland would drive down the field for a TD, giving themselves a 36-32 lead with just 42 seconds remaining. The Jets still had a chance to win the game, but the Jets fumbled the ball on the kickoff, which allowed the Raiders to pick it up and proceed to score another TD. Oakland would hang on to win 43-32 after scoring 14 unanswered points in the final 61 seconds.

     The decision to pull the plug on the game between the Jets and Raiders for the movie Heidi, all professional football games would now be shown in their entirety, regardless of how long it went past it scheduled time slot. Subsequently, all sports would go on to adopt this same policy and not switch from the sporting event to scheduled programming until the conclusion of the event.



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