Not Your Typical All-Star Game

There’s not too much out there that surprises me that can be found on YouTube, but on Sunday night I found a clip from user John Mongani I’ve always wanted to see: footage of the last Chicago All-Star game in 1976.

Forty years ago, the NFL and college football were different places. Back then, NFL teams would play at least six preseason games beginning in late July and stretching into September before the fourteen-game season began. Whoever won the Super Bowl (and prior to 1967, the NFL championship) would play a seventh preseason tilt against a team of NFL rookies, as well as the two teams selected to play in the Hall of Fame game that year.

Imagine being a good enough collegiate player to be drafted into the NFL back then, and being told that in your first NFL game, you get to play against the Super Bowl champions. Then you’re told there’s a catch: you wouldn’t be playing with the NFL team that drafted you, but with fellow collegiate all-stars from across the country, most of whom you’ve probably never played with. It was certainly no surprise to find out that the NFL champs usually won these games, even if they were held in the preseason. The collegians only won 9 of the 42 games, tying twice, and losing the last 12 games.

This ’76 game looked like a real train wreck. The Steelers had scored every way conceivable (a safety, three field goals, a touchdown with a missed extra point, and a touchdown with a made PAT) and held a 24-0 lead by the time the clip starts. An intense thunderstorm rolls into Solider Field, the kind of storm that would get both teams off the field quickly under today’s more safety conscious officiating. Once the players and refs left for safety, fans invaded the carpet, tearing down goal posts on either side. Needless to say, there was no point in continuing, so the game was halted there, and the series scrapped thereafter.


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