In the beginning, it was no big deal, this Super Bowl business. No hysteria, no end-of-the-world implications, not even close to a sellout when, on Jan. 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to be creating the first of pro football's great showdowns, the industry's ultimate showpiece. Game One didn't even command a Roman numeral. As a promotion it was a dud. But it did launch a best seller -- for later years.

By order of Commissioner Pete Rozelle, the television networks blacked out the 15 million viewers in an area within 75 miles of the big Los Angeles Coliseum. "The fair thing to do for the people who bought tickets on the promise there would be no local TV," he explained. But there had been no crush to buy tickets. No local teams involved, no tradition that the Super Bowl was a must-see.

Nine days before the game, 47,000 of the 97,375 seats were still available. At the opening kickoff, still 31,000 empty seats in the place. One Los Angeles columnist suggested that local fans were rebelling at the price of $12 for the best seats, ranging down to $10 and $6, for others.

Those Redskins fans who last week were willing to meet the scalpers' price of $500 and up for one seat in San Diego, are hereby advised that 21 years ago Kansas City fans turned back 2,769 of the 8,000 tickets made available to them.

Some other developments were diverting the nation's interest. Bobby Baker was telling a federal jury he was innocent of fraud, income tax evasion, conspiracy and larceny. A Louisville draft board denied Cassius Clay's appeal for exemption on his plea he was a black Muslim minister. Gov. Ronald Reagan was telling Californians he was cutting back all state hiring and closing some welfare centers.

Finally, the National Football League was agreeing to have playoff relations with the formerly and still despised upstart American Football League, which was now six years old. It was a shotgun marriage with the AFL having sued the NFL for restraint of trade, for among other things snatching the Minneapolis territory from it, and doing the mean thing of expanding into Dallas where the Chiefs had been operating as the Dallas Texans before moving to Kansas City.

Vince Lombardi had even declared a week before the Super Bowl, "It's not the most important game we ever played." He said, "Winning the first game that leads to the NFL title {he won four with his Packers} is always our most important game. It won't be the end of the world if we lose it."

Both CBS and NBC televised the game. CBS, the NFL network, had to share it with NBC as part of the deal, because NBC had been financing the AFL at $1 million a year for the TV rights. They pooled 10 cameras to cover the game. Today 10 cameras may not suffice to cover the end zones.

The Packers were quickly installed as eight-point favorites over the Chiefs from that other league and were the choice of 42 of 46 writers polled. It was something more than a reflection of Bart Starr's superiority over Kansas City quarterback Len Dawson. It was a also a measure of the two coaches, the famed Lombardi and Kansas City's Hank Stram, one of the new guys on the block who was bringing his own coaching theories to the game.

Stram was introducing a system he called his "movable pocket," with which to confuse the Packers' pass rush. This play would have Dawson forgoing the straight drop-back a la Johnny Unitas, and veering off to throw from behind either right or left tackle, "something to keep the Packers guessing and reducing their pass rush effectiveness by 50 percent. They cannot groove their rush," said Stram, who was gaining a reputation as an innovator. "The movable pocket," he predicted, "would be the football of the '70s."

To all of which Lombardi uttered a form of bah humbug. "Formations do not win games. Blocking and tackling does," Lombardi said.

It was a Kansas City player who was getting the most publicity. This was cornerback Fred (The Hammer) Williamson, who in the recent AFL title game had knocked Buffalo's Wray Carlton unconscious and also left receiver Bill Glass a stretcher case. Williamson was a black belt in karate and boasted of his "patented hammer blow," which in truth was simply a vicious forearm to the head or throat.

"Lombardi knows how to handle his kind," said an assistant Packers coach. "He'll order a sweep led by Fuzzy Thurston and Williamson will find his hammer sticking out of his ear. The play will not gain much but we will be rid of Williamson at the cost of only one down." This was prophetic. They took him off the field on a stretcher after Donny Anderson, taking off on a sweep, hammered Williamson flat.

The game was exciting for one half, with Bart Starr's passing getting the Packers off to a quick 7-0 lead, but the Chiefs pulled to within 14-10 at intermission and their game could be called creditable. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, none of Stram's innovations worked in the second half and it was as if the Packers were playing solitaire.

Only three times in the last two quarters did the Chiefs get into Green Bay territory, and never inside the Packers' 45. The final score of 35-10 serves as an accurate description of how it went.