The complete network telecasts of Super Bowl I — which was carried by both CBS and NBC — have been among the most elusive artifacts in TV history for decades.
They remain so. But NFL Network will take a step toward remedying that at 8 p.m. Friday when it premieres “Super Bowl I: The Lost Game,” 49 years to the day since the Packers beat the Chiefs, 35-10, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The special is the result of an exhaustive process in which NFL Films searched its own archives to assemble every play from that game, using multiple sources of footage.
Filmmakers stitched it all together in chronological order, with narration from the original audio of NBC Sports’ radio broadcast, featuring Jim Simpson — who died Wednesday at age 88 — and George Ratterman.
NFL Network has turned the replay into a three-hour program that will feature a number of commentators, including former Packers Willie Davis, Jerry Kramer and Dave Robinson.
Other features include wired audio from Packers coach Vince Lombardi and postgame interviews with Chiefs coach Hank Stram and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Much of the original CBS telecast featuring Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford does exist, although some parts, including a chunk of the third quarter, are missing.
The owner of the video, whose father recorded it as an engineer at a station in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has been in negotiation for years with the NFL over copyright and compensation to allow it to be shown publicly, so far to no avail.
The Paley Center for Media has had the video since 2005 and was charged with restoring it on behalf of the owner. The Center did show a small portion of it at a fundraising dinner in May 2014.
“It’s something we always hoped we could discover in some kind of archive,” Ron Simon, the Center’s curator of television and radio, told Newsday in October 2014. “It was exciting and it’s still exciting.”
Simon said in that interview that there had been times it seemed the game might reach a wider audience, likely on NFL Network, but it did not occur.
“We are looking for the best time to show it and making sure all sides are comfortable with it,” Simon said in 2014. “We are getting there. We want it to happen.”
It still hasn’t. But Friday night the NFL Network will offer a version of its own.