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Out of a Rare Super Bowl I Recording, a Clash With the N.F.L. Unspools

Compliments of Times New Roman 

Troy Haupt is a 47-year-old nurse anesthetist here in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He has a secret to reveal about Super BowlI: He owns the only known recording of its broadcast.

CBS and NBC, which televised the game, did not preserve any tapes. But the copy that Haupt owns — of a broadcast that launched the Super Bowlas an enormous shared spectacle that attracts more than 100 million viewers — might never be seen on any network. The N.F.L. does not want to buy the tapes and has warned Haupt not to sell them to outside parties or else the league will pursue legal action.

Unless the league and Haupt make a deal to resolve the financial differences that have privately divided them since 2005, the tapes will stay in storage in a former mine in upstate New York.

“This year had to be the year, with all the hype of Super Bowl 50,” Haupt said.

The tapes are a bizarre heirloom that, for decades, sat largely ignored in the attic of his family’s three-bedroom house in Shamokin, Pa., deteriorating from shifting temperatures.

Haupt’s father, Martin, taped the game. Haupt never knew him. Haupt and his mother, Beth Rebuck, say they have no idea what he did for a living back then. They also don’t know why he went to work on Jan. 15, 1967, with a pair of two-inch Scotch tapes, slipped one, and then the other, into a Quadruplex taping machine and recorded the Green Bay Packers’ 35-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He told his family nothing about his day’s activity.

It would take another eight years for Martin Haupt to tell his wife what he had done. By then, they had divorced and both had remarried.

He was sick with cancer and handed her the tapes.

“He said maybe they could help pay for the kids’ education,” she said. And she put them in the attic, where they accumulated dust and intrigue.

Martin Haupt died soon after, leaving behind the odd inheritance of a Super Bowl I recording, made on a professional two-inch machine in the era before the videocassette recorder industry exploded and networks and leagues began to cherish their archives of old games.

Fortuitous Phone Call

The story might have ended with those two tapes deteriorating in Shamokin if not for a phone call from Troy Haupt’s childhood friend, Clint Hepner. In 2005, he read that Sports Illustrated had described a tape of Super Bowl I as a “lost treasure” because CBS and NBC had not saved copies of their broadcasts. The magazine estimated that a tape, if found, would be worth $1 million.

“He said, ‘Remember when we were 10 and in your mom’s attic playing board games and saw this box with metal cases in it that said Super Bowl I?’” Haupt said. “I had no idea what he was talking about and he said, ‘Talk to your mom,’ and Mom said, ‘Yeah, they’re up in the attic.’” She added: “I remarried. The kids grew up and we talked about the tapes once in a while. But my husband was skeptical about what was on them.”

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