41 years ago, and nevermore since

The first game of the NFL preseason is the Hall of Fame Game. Unless it gets canceled due to bad turf …

… or bad weather, as in 1980 when the Packers–Chargers game in Canton, Ohio, ended during the third quarter due to lightning. (Spoiler alert: Maybe that’s happened before …)

The Hall of Fame Game opening the preseason is a tradition of the past 40 years. It may seem hard to believe now, but the game before that used to pit a team of college all-stars (which means other teams’ early draft picks) against the defending NFL champion.

The game was played at Soldier Field in Chicago (from whence came the baseball All-Star Game), back when (until 1971) Da Bears played not there but at Wrigley Field. Soldier Field could seat up to 100,000 until renovations installed end-zone seats that cut off the huge bowl of the original stadium.

Tonight is the 41st anniversary of the final All-Stars game, which ended in chaos.

ABC-TV carried the game in the midst of its Montreal Olympics coverage. (With the Hall of Fame game the next afternoon.)

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