The Day 51 Years Ago That
Roger Staubach Rollie Stichweh Became The First Subject Of Instant Replay
The year was 1963, three years before the first Super Bowl, and the first instant replay machine weighed as much as two Frigidaires. The tape used had episodes of "I Love Lucy" on it, so if you recorded it improperly you would have Lucy on the air. Thus was the scenario 51 years ago yesterday -- the debut of videotape-based instant replay in a football game.
It was during the CBS broadcast of the Army-Navy game, and the network had hoped to have Navy QB Roger Staubach as the subject of the first instant replay. Who they got however was Army QB Rollie Stichweh, who went down in history instead. So it was broadcast football's first official LOL moment as well.
In '63, CBS sports director CBS Tony Verna -- who had toyed with the idea during broadcasts of the Rome Olympics -- finally rolled out the first instant replay during the second half of the Army-Navy Game. One camera was focused on Staubach, the other on Stichweh, the latter who scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
As the touchdown was replayed at full speed, and therefore indistinguishable from live action, play-by-play man Lindsey Nelson declared, "This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again."
Think of how we take instant replay for granted today. Have you ever watched a game in person, seen a play and then waited for the instant replay in your head that never came? No? I'm the only one? OK then.
Anyway, Richard Sherman, Dwight Clark and many others should celebrate this day like Christmas, because it made their lives. IR revolutionized football more than plastic helmets, the West Coast offense or even the forward pass. It showed us not only what happened on a particular play, but how and why it happened. It brought Xs and Os to our living rooms, and made it possible for Cris Collinsworth to have a job.
Well, no invention is perfect.
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