THE FIRST TIME WE WERE SUPER
Fun facts about Houston’s first Super Bowl in 1974
On Jan. 13, 1974, Houston hosted its first Super Bowl when the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings squared off in the eighth edition of the big game at the spacious Rice Stadium.
A crowd of 71,882 endured a misty, soggy gridiron contest, decades before it was a bloated, billion-dollar worldwide event. Country singer Charley Pride sang the national anthem, so it wasn’t all that bad.
The game would see the Dolphins, still an NFL powerhouse led by coach Don Shula, defeat the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 24-7. Some 14 future NFL Hall-ofFamers played in that game, including Dolphins greats Bob Griese and Larry Csonka and Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton.
The halftime show, titled “A Musical America,” featured the University of Texas Longhorn Band, the Westchester Wranglerettes and Miss Texas 1973, Judy Mallett, on fiddle.
That’s about a million miles away from whatever this year’s halftime artist, Lady Gaga, likely has in store for the world.
In 1974, there was no accidental or intentional nudity to speak of, no overpowering messages about society, the crowd didn’t get glow sticks to wave in the air, and there was no social media to roast the whole event mercilessly for days.
“It might have been the dullest ever,” NFL Films’ Steve Sabol said after the fact of the game and the halftime show.
Why wasn’t it at the state-of-theart Astrodome, just a mile or two away? Rice Stadium simply had more seating capacity at the time, that’s why. There was a Super Bowl party at the Dome that Friday night, complete with cattle meandering near the crowds because in 1974 we weren’t aware or yet ashamed of Texas stereotypes.
You can read what gonzo reporter Hunter S. Thompson thought about the first Houston Super Bowl (he stayed at the downtown Hyatt Regency and went to the Spindletop while he was here) in his famous “Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl” column written in the weeks after the game. Spoiler alert: He drank a lot. According to reports, Houston appeared to be the front-runner in 1991 to land Super Bowl XXIX for January 1995. The exploding scoreboard at the Dome had long been removed and replaced with extra seating. In the end, Miami got the game and the Oilers moved to Nashville, Tenn.