1968: The 'Heidi Bowl' Pre-Empts Namath And The New York Jets

By | November 15, 2020

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Heidi (Jennifer Edwards) bumped Joe Namath and his Jets off the air. Sources: Amazon.com; Photo by Bill Young/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The New York Jets faced off against the Oakland Raiders on November 17, 1968, in a hard-fought football game that was dominated in the final minutes by Heidi. She was neither a Jet nor a Raider; she was a young orphan who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. You know, Heidi.

Televised sporting events were not the perfectly-planned productions we know today, and in one of the all-time broadcasting blunders, NBC cut away from a nail-biter of a game featuring future hall of famers "Broadway" Joe Namath and Fred Biletnikoff. The network opted to show the program scheduled to start at 7 pm, which happened to be a made-for-TV movie version of Heidi starring Jennifer Edwards (the daughter of Blake Edwards and step-daughter of Julie Andrews). The game ended in a wild finish that changed the outcome -- a finish that Jets fans didn't get to see. Rabid Jets fans never let NBC, Joe Namath, or Jennifer Edwards ever forget the travesty that will forever be known as the "Heidi Bowl" or "Heidi Game,"

The Jets Looked To Win A Close One

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When the gridiron outgrew movies. (rayonsports)

In 1968, it was nearly inconceivable for football games to overrun the allotted three hours set by television networks. Also, whether it was the NFL or AFL, football hadn’t taken over as the national pastime in ‘68 so the idea of preempting a football game wasn’t considered sheer lunacy yet.

However, the Jets and Raiders were locked in a barn burner and both teams owned playoff aspirations. When the Jets took a 32-29 lead with 1:05 minutes remaining, every Jets fan across the country was on the edge of his seat. That’s when NBC cut to a little Swiss girl named Heidi, traipsing down a scenic mountain.