The final Super Bowl of the 1970s will be staged here Sunday at 4 p.m., ending a 20-year period of phenomenal growth and dramatic change in the National Football League.
In 1960, the NFL had 13 teams. Now there are 28. In 1962, one television network kicked in a total of $4 1/2 million to broadcast the games for one season. Now, each team will get $5 million in video dollars over the next four years, with all three networks footing the bill.
The last two decades have seen players grow bigger, faster and stronger, playing a game more complex and sophisticated than their padded predecessors ever imagined.
There is a powerful players' labor union, a landmark collective bargaining agreement and an average player salary close to $60,000 a year, a far cry from the $20,000 range a man playing in 1960 could expect.
But what of the future, the next 20 years? What sort of game will the football fans of America be watching in the year 2,000 when Super Bowl 33 is staged?
The Washington Post asked a number of people, ranging in expertise from NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to Madam Wanda, a Miami palmist, to gaze into the future and provide some answers.
ROZELLE: "Maybe I'm not much of a visionary, but I can't envision the same sort of major changes over the next 20 years that we've had since 1960.
"I would say we'll probably be at 30 teams by then, with five six-team divisions in each conference. I wouldn't think we could play any more than 16 games. I don't see us playing world-wide, but I do think people will be seeing more professional football around the world as communications continue to improve.
"The subject of television is very intriguing. I believe we will continue to be on free television. We're committed to that policy, although we'd obviously like to see the backout policy changed. If pay television does come, it would be as an adjunct to free TV. Maybe some cities would show their home team on a cable paying system, with other teams coming in on commercial television."
LANE JENNINGS, research director, Washington's World Future Society: "I would think they will eventually be going to a metric system, and that would be accomplished very easily.
"Technological developments in equipment will make a major difference. They've got to come up with a different kind of armor to protect these people, because they keep getting bigger and there are far too many injuries.
"Perhaps we will see the use of bionic knees, replaceable parts, and that poses an interesting question. Do you allow the players with normal parts to compete against people with medically constructed parts? Will we have the capability to have parts made with power added to them? How could they compete with normal regular bodies?"
HANK STRAM, former NFL coach, now a television commentator: "Ten years ago, I said the '70s would be the decade of variety, and I think the '80s and '90s will see a progression of that -- more teams doing more and more things on both offense and defense.
"One thing professional football doesn't have now is a way to get to the outside with the option play. People have toyed with it, but no one has featured it. With more college coaches coming into the pros, coaches who have had success with it, I think you'll see the option become an integral part of many offenses.
"Situation substitution also will be increased, where you put a certain player or players into the game for a specific situation, third and long, short yardage. I'm sure they'll keep trying to open up the game, too.
"They've tried moving the hash marks, changing the goal posts, instituting all these rules. The way I would open it up would be to say you can only use a four-man front on defense, eliminate zone defenses and let the flankers go one on one against the defensive backs. That would match skill versus skill, and you'd see a lot of points on the board."
ED GARVEY, executive director, NFL Players Association: "I read recently where Sonny Werblin predicted that before long, professional soccer would have all its teams owned by giant corporations. At this point in the NFL, that really hasn't happened, but who's to say that a Carroll Rosenbloom, and Art Modell, wouldn't sell out for $50 million?
"Assuming they don't, and we still have the Rosenblooms, Rooneys and Modells, I foresee a management and a union with a shared responsibility for the league. Both would agree on a commissioner as an arbitrator, and there would be some sort of profitsharing.
"You probably won't have individual bargaining for salaries; you'll have a rough wage scale based on the percentage of profits that should go to the players. Television will continue to be a major contributor in terms of revenue. You'll probably dial a number to call up a show and be able to see any game in the country for a fee."
TONY VERNA, CBS director (including five Super Bowl telecasts): "In 20 years, we'll all be watching games on huge screens, and that will totally change the concept as to how television shows the game. The wide screen will allow the director to shoot as if you were actually in the stadium. You'll be able to see the whole field.
"I also think you'll see less announcing, and more picture. You'll feel like you're right there in the crowd, and all you'll really need are graphics and replays."
CHET FORTE, ABC director ("Monday Night Football") -- "Cameras will be a lot smaller, and we'll be able to get into positions we've never been able to get to before. I also think you'll see more overhead shots, not like the gimmick stuff we use from the blimp, but really meaningful stuff.
"You might also view the game from both end zones. That's a way-out possibility because people are so used to seeing it the other way.You'll see the holes open up, the receivers coming downfield at you; the possibilities are limitless. That's where I would prefer to watch a game, quite frankly.
"Don't tell Howard (as in Cosell) but I've always wanted to try a game with no announcers. But I don't think people want that."
ART McNALLY. NFL supervisor of officials: "Maybe we will have electronics making the calls by then. As far as I'm concerned, if they can help the game, fine. If we can use replay cameras, fine; if that's what people believe will help improve the game.
"We're just concerned about getting the play right. I don't think you could ever totally eliminate the human element. I don't ever see robot referees. Let 'em play a game without officials, and you'd see chaos."
DR. ROBERT KERLAN, Los Angeles Ram team physician and noted orthopedic surgeon: "I believe as far as size and speed of payers, it will be fairly close to what we're seeing now.
"I would hope we'll see some equipment improvements, that with the use of these lighter plastics, that would protect both the wearer and the person getting hit.
"As far as the knee, I would think there will be two major improvements. One, we'll have to find something that improves the way the shoe grasps on artificial surfaces. That's where we're having our biggest problems.
"The other change would involve a rule change on changes of possession -- interceptions, punts, kickoffs, fumble recoveries, where an offensive player becomes a defensive player and vice versa. I'd like to see them eliminate the block below the waist in that situation. That would eliminate a number of injuries.
"I don't believe in 20 years we will be able to have replacement parts suitable for play. I think we can use them in salvage situations, after a player's career is over, if he has problems with arthritis in his fourth, fifth or sixth decade.
"I do visualize a much more sophisticated offseason training program, and someone drafted in the year 2000 should be able to play much longer than the present ones can. And as the athlete becomes healthier and lasts longer, then I hope you will also reduce the temptation to use other things to try and stimulate performance.
"I don't believe in using glandular and hormonal stimulation to produce Goliaths. We should do everything now, and in the future, within natural grounds."
MADAM WANDA, Miami palm reader: "Young man, I believe professional football is going to get bigger and better, but there will be a scandal. I get nothing specific on that. It'll involve management, that's all I can tell you over the phone.
"Twenty years? I can't look that far ahead. You want to come over? I get $25 for an hour with the crystal ball. You come on over here, maybe I'll get some vibrations. This is very strenuous work, you know."