The transmission failure was recreated in 2001 for a movie.Photo: www.imago-images.de
November 17, 1968: There is only one minute left until the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. Everything will be. It’s really a shame for half of Americans to see a pretty girl in the Alpine Grisons instead.
17.11.2021, 00:0115.11.2021, 14:20
There is a bitter rivalry between the planes and the invaders. Both had an excellent start to the season and are considered contenders for a Super Bowl victory. In the end, the New York Jets, led by legendary quarterback Joe Namath, would win it, 16-7 over the Baltimore Colts.
But this Sunday in the regular season, the Raiders had a better finish on their home ground in Oakland. They won a dramatic final race that no one saw in the eastern part of the United States – because the blockbuster “Heidi” is already being shown there.
Of course we love it when the beautiful Switzerland is shown in the USA. Football fans were less happy with Heidi and Gothard Peter.Photo: Photo Archive
The game goes on and on
NBC TV is well aware that the game of football is street sweepers. But it is based more on the movie Sweet Girl in the Swiss Alps. In the days leading up to that, the ad drums are beating hard, and the weekend’s TV event is scheduled to air on schedule at 7 p.m. New York time.
Since the football match started three hours early, there would be no problems. A short-lived game at the time. But at the Auckland Coliseum, everything comes together, from the TV makers’ point of view, it shouldn’t come together. On the one hand, both teams score seriously, but on the other hand they also make a lot of mistakes – their midfielders come together with 31 incomplete passes. The match is often stopped due to injuries and a total of 19 penalties.
And so at some point it becomes clear: It will be difficult for the NBC project to succeed. Television heads communicate back and forth enthusiastically. At a time when there are no mobile phones and games have not yet been transmitted via satellite technology and in a country that stretches more than 5,000 km between the west and east coasts, coordinating the decision is also a technical challenge.
on the edge of the knife
Three quarters later, the Raiders had a slight lead, leading 22:19. An impressive exchange of blows now begins. First, the jets advance 97 yards away, then the raiders respond. About four minutes before the end it’s 29:29 – the tension in this big game couldn’t be greater.
At about 6:45 p.m., production director Dick Klein and NBC sports director Don Kunal called each other again. They agreed that the match would not be over by 7 p.m. and that the announcer would have to show it to the end. But only one person can make the decision: Julian Goodman, the head broadcaster. Up front, he makes it clear that Heidi should start on time anyway, but Goodman is giving up now. The movie doesn’t start until the soccer game is over.
There was just over a minute left when Jim Turner put the Jets ahead with a field goal. It’s the last action television viewers will see in the eastern United States. Then a happy girl jumped across the Bündner meadow.
Because communication between TV heads is not working. Phones are always busy. Production Manager Klein follows the instructions entered into it earlier. Not knowing that President Goodman had agreed to delay the start of the film, the game’s broadcast was cut short.
Airplanes and invaders allowed it to be torn apart.Photo: imago sport photo service
“America is so bad you couldn’t see it”
The plug is pulled out – and there are many fans by their side. Enraged, they called the station and paralyzed all phone lines. Comedian Art Buchwald notes that “men who have not even risen from their seats in an earthquake are rushing to speak profanity on the phone.”
And viewers don’t even know why they are being deceived. The Oakland Raiders manage two more touchdowns within nine seconds. They turn dramatically and win in a ratio of 43:32.
TV commentators Kurt Judy Waldergates share the most hilarious two minutes of football they’ve ever seen – only to hear production manager Don Ellis quipped “America’s So Bad You Couldn’t See”; Where “only” the eastern half of the country is affected.
NBC is making matters worse by pissing off Heidi’s fans. Only in the scene when Clara, strapped to a wheelchair, was miraculously able to walk a few steps again, does the announcer display the result of the game in large format. Football fans are now more hated because they have lost something big. And fans of the film are outraged that the network spoiled a heartbreaking scene for them.
Voted the most memorable game of the regular season
The transmission malfunction resulted in far-reaching changes. As a result, NBC installed a first-time viewer hotline so that the broadcaster’s regular phone calls would not be interrupted in the future. The NFL completes its television contracts with the clip under which the games are shown in full and cannot be withdrawn from transmission early.
Heidi in the Alps: Actress Jennifer Edwards (left) in 1967 hiking in Gstaad.Photo: Photo Archive
In 1997, “Heidi’s Game” was voted one of the ten most memorable games in the NFL, the most memorable game of any regular season ever. In 2005, the fiasco reached sixth place in the list of “100 Most Surprising Moments in Television History”. Perhaps the most beautiful anecdote given by Jennifer Edwards, actress “Heidi”: “One day my tombstone would probably say: It was a great sporting moment.”
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