The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. It came to be known as the Heidi Game because the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) controversially broke away from the game with the Jets still winning to air the television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.
In the late 1960s, few professional football games took longer than two and a half hours to play, and the Jets–Raiders three-hour television time slot was thought to be adequate. However, in this instance, a high-scoring contest between the two bitter American Football League rivals, together with a number of injuries and penalties, caused the game to run long. Although NBC executives had originally ordered that Heidi must begin on time, as 7 p.m. approached and it became apparent how exciting the game was turning out to be, they decided to postpone the start of the film and continue football coverage. However, when they tried call the studio to implement their decision, they were unable to get through because so many members of the public were calling NBC to inquire, complain, or opine about the scheduled 7 pm cutoff that the NBC switchboards were jammed. As a result, the change could not be communicated, and Heidi began as scheduled, preempting the final moments of the game in the eastern part of the country--to the outrage of viewers there, who missed two Oakland touchdowns that turned the game around.
The Heidi Game led to a change in the way professional football is shown on network television; ever since then, games have been shown to their conclusion before evening programming begins. The experience also led television networks to take steps to ensure that network personnel would be able to communicate with each other under similar...
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