August 04, 2011
From the "I did not know that" department: Former NFL star Bubba Smith, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 66, thought the New York Jets' upset victory over his Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III was fixed.
Smith, a superlative defense lineman for the Colts, intimated in his biography and in various interviews that the game was "set up" for the Jets to win (although he never provided any concrete evidence).
The conspiracy theory seems to be that the NFL "needed" the high-profile, glamorous New York team to be champions in order to solidify the merger, sustain the league's popularity and thereby generate millions of dollars in revenue to all teams in the league. (At the time, the New York Giants were a very poor club.)
Conspiracy theorists agree with Smith; the poor quarterbacking performance of 1968 MVP Earl Morall was cited as an example of something or other, I don't know. (By that measure John Elway threw his first three Super Bowls, too.) The explanations read like something the folks who deny the moon landing would write.
Smith told of his theory to Jeff Miller in his AFL book "Going Long:"
"This might sound crazy, but I don't think the game was kosher. In order for the merger to go through [the Jets] had to win. If you read the terms of the merger, if [the AFL] didn't establish credibility by the end of three years, the terms of the merger were null and void. You're talking the difference between millions and billions of dollars. The line opened at 18 and went down to 15 or something like that because a big bet had been placed on the game. And I know where that bet came from. It came from Baltimore, from someone on the team, from what I understand."
Bubba was right about one thing: It did sound crazy.
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