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Dale’s Daily Data: Heidi Football Game

Heidi BowlIt’s known as the Heidi game.  It was a 1968 football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders – two of the best teams in the league at that time.  There were a lot of penalties and time outs in the game and it was running long, but NBC had been promoting a new version of the children’s classic Heidi for weeks.  It was supposed to start at 7 o’clock that night and network executives made the decision to leave the game early and start showing the movie.  The Jets had just scored a field goal to take a 32 to 29 lead with a minute five to play and I guess they thought what could happen in 65 seconds?

Well the Raiders went the length of the field to score a touchdown to move in front, then scored another touchdown 9 seconds later when the Jets fumbled the kickoff.  The Raiders won the game 43 to 32 but nobody outside the Oakland Coliseum saw it because Heidi was being shown on TV.  NBC was swamped with so many calls the switchboard broke down, so people called the phone company, the newspapers, even the police department to complain.  NBC ended up showing the final score on the bottom of the screen during the movie and that enraged football fans even more.  As a result the NFL included a stipulation in all TV contracts that all games must be shown to the end in each team’s home market and it became known as the Heidi rule.

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