NFL’s ‘Heidi’ Game Remembered, Changed Pro Football TV Rules

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a moment that forever changed television coverage of the National Football League – it is the anniversary of the infamous “Heidi Game.”

The contest pitted the New York Jets against the Oakland Raiders, two bitter rivals in the American Football League, the upstart league in the pre-nfl merger era. The Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, took a 32-29 lead in the hard-fought game with less than a minute to play.

That’s when trouble ensued. NBC-tv, which was televising the game, had scheduled a presentation of Heidi, the tale of a young girl’s adventures in the Swiss Alps, for 7 Pm Et. That was usually considered a safe time slot for regular programming, given that most pro football games ran about an hour per half in that era.

But this Jets/Raiders game ran slower than expected, and exceeded its scheduled three-hour time slot.

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