"We went to the first one, and our tickets were $12," recalls O'Brien, a Central Valley High School math teacher. "We were sitting on the 48-yard line ... both end zones were empty. It was amazing."
O'Brien didn't bother saving his ticket from Super Bowl I in Los Angeles, but some of those $12 tickets -- the top ticket price at each of the first three Super Bowls -- now sell for more than $2,000. Thousands of fans are paying a minimum of $2,000 for tickets for Sunday's Super Bowl in Detroit, though the original list price was closer to $600.
"I saved my program and ticket for about two years," O'Brien says. "Then we moved here, and I was a teenager, so I chucked it all."
The Super Bowl originally matched the champions of the well-established National Football League against the champions of the upstart American Football League. The Super Bowl name, inspired by the bouncy Super Ball toy of Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, did not actually replace the World Championship Game as the official title of the big game until 1969.
The AFL was considered vastly inferior to the NFL, so Kansas City was a huge underdog to Green Bay in 1967. Ten future Hall of Famers played in the game for future Hall of Fame coaches Vince Lombardi of Green Bay and Hank Stram of Kansas City, but the crowd of 61,946 left more than a third of Memorial Coliseum's seats vacant.
"The talk was that it was kind of a gimmick, that it might not last long," O'Brien says.
O'Brien was 16 and living in Victorville, Calif., when a buddy asked him to come to the game with him and a young man who was eager to show off his new Chevy Malibu SS.
"A Malibu SS," O'Brien recalls dreamily. "At 16, that was pretty big stuff. I liked football, but I probably wouldn't have gone to the game if that guy had some old jalopy."
O'Brien says he doesn't remember a lot about the game. O'Brien's main recollections (almost certainly not in this order) seem to be: & lt;ol & & lt;li & "Kansas City got killed." (35-10) & lt;li & "Ray Nitschke (Green Bay's star linebacker) put some pain on some people." & lt;li & "There was great weather." (72 degrees) & lt;li & "It was easy in, easy out. No problem parking. The freeway was accessible back then." & lt;li & "We didn't find any girls. But we had a good time anyway." & lt;/ol &