It seems somehow fitting that the stunning upset in the Presidential Election happened just one day before the fiftieth anniversary of the official merger of the nation’s two professional football leagues. That historic legislation, signed by President Lyndon Bains Johnson on November 7, 1966, helped pave the way for one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports.
Considered an inferior organization, the AFL began in the mid sixties to gain popularity with football fans. That fact was made clear when the NBC television network interrupted a November 1968 New York Jets and Oakland Raiders game to show the film Heidi, only to be hounded afterward by protests from fans around the country.
It was those very Jets who just two months later managed to pull off an upset similar to the one Donald Trump enjoyed in this recent Presidential Election. In the third Super Bowl New York had to face the Baltimore Colts who, like Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, were heavily favored to win.
In spite of the fact that the Jets were eighteen point underdogs, quarterback Joe Namath publicly declared that New York would win the game. Donald Trump would make a similar promise about the Presidential Election fifty years later, and history has recorded that both men succeeded.
Namath and the Jets beat the Colts 16-7 to win the Super Bowl, the first ever by an AFL team. The Green Bay Packers of the NFL had dominated the previous Super Bowls, out scoring their opponents in Kansas City and Oakland by a margin of 68-24.
In Joe Namath-like fashion last week, Donald Trump led the Republican Party to an upset victory over Clinton and the Democrats. Almost every election poll had predicted a big win for Clinton, as did every major newspaper and TV network. It promised to be so one-sided that some stations might have even interrupted the coverage to show a film not unlike the infamous decision to show Heidi over the Jets-Raiders matchup.
Fortunately, every station stuck with the election, which proved to be much closer than predicted. The surprise result will obviously have a much larger impact on America than did the Jets victory all those years ago, but that upset on the gridiron proved to be a great benefit to the NFL and the millions of football fans in the country.
A year after that Jets victory the leagues merged into one, which has since then been experiencing incredible financial and social growth for the last fifty years. Perhaps the recent Presidential upset can bring about a similar effect, maybe in the form of a peaceful merger between the two rival political parties to help bridge the antagonistic divisions among the American people.
by Doug Poe