Sept. 22, 1968
It was the first major professional, regular-season football game played in Alabama. But hopes by local leaders that it might lead to something more permanent never materialized. One month earlier, quarterback Joe Namath, formerly of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Jets played the Atlanta Falcons in an exhibition game at Legion Field, drawing more than 27,000 fans. But on Sept. 22, 1968, it was the real deal when the Boston Patriots chose to play their season opener at the old gray lady. They came because Fenway Park was occupied – by the Boston Red Sox, who owned the ball park. The decision to play in Birmingham was partly political. The Patriots were angling for their own stadium, and the game in Birmingham was seen as a test to gauge local interest in professional football – in case the stadium plan failed, and the Patriots decided to threaten their hometown with relocation. The Jets won, 47-31, before 29,000 fans, and the Patriots went back to Massachusetts, which continues to be their home.
Read more at Bhamwiki.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.