"Holy Toledo!"

January 6, 2009

Sea Of Hands Revisited: 1974 Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders

Filed under: NFL, Oakland Raiders, Vintage Sports Video — Bill @ 4:29 pm

Originally written on 12/18/09:

See Update below…

Holy Toledo It’s official the football gods will forever keep the Sea Of Hands game a mystery.


Tonight was to be the debut of the NFL Films version of the 1974 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders, better known as the Sea of Hands Game. It occurred some 34 years ago December 21st, 1974.

Instead of an hour and a half of never seen footage what we ended up with was 1 hour and 1 minute of a condensed version of the show we were supposed to see. As if by some higher power this show was joined in progress due to a women’s volleyball tournament that ran late.

From what we saw this is what we learned.

To those who collect vintage NFL games, this is the most sought after footage in NFL history. As Steve Sabol described it, “It’s the Holy Grail of games.”

Why? Well first of all it ranks among the greatest games ever played (yes even arguably better than the ’58 Colts vs. Giants). The game “had it all, high stakes, great drama, Hall of Fame talent,, and one of the most unforgettable finishes in NFL history.”

Secondly it has no video history. Steve Sabol of NFL Films said, “When we moved the company from Philadelphia to Mt. Laurel the footage was either misplaced or mislabeled, whatever it was we just couldn’t find it. In fact all visual records of this game have met a similar fate. The lone remaining copy of NBC’s TV broadcast is thought to be in Spanish and lost in Mexico. In the underground cyber-world where hundreds collect vhs broadcasts of NFL broadcasts this is the Holy Grail of games.”

Well Steve is correct, the original broadcast of this game is gone. A decent copy of this game would likely fetch more than a Mickey Mantle rookie card. A LOT more! Also, we don’t collect them on vhs these days, they are all on dvd now. Much nicer. And a special thank you goes out to whoever it was at NFL Films that did the hard work to find this wonderful footage. Trust me there are many who are thrilled with your findings.

** UPDATE:

The entire broadcast of NFL’s Greatest Games – The Sea of Hands finally aired on January 2nd in its entirety. The show is great, full of little tidbits we have never seen until now. What makes the show ever better is that they used the radio voice of Bill King (Mr. Holy Toledo himself) for most of the descriptions (I have the original entire radio broadcast on CD for those interested).

The entire show ran for an hour and a half, after digitally removing the commercials it is 1 hour & 11 minutes. It is now firmly ensconced in my vintage NFL video collection as a prize piece.

I consider myself a Sea Of Hands historian. Over my lifetime I have collected every bit of film I could find on this game. I would love to find someone who has more video of this game than I do so that we could share our collection.

I still believe this was the greatest game I’ve ever seen.

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4 Comments »

  1. Hey! I found your fun, informative blog while looking for info on the “Sea of Hands” game. You do a great job here. I’m a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan and while this defeat is the most crushing in team history, it is also fascinating as the moment the Dolphin Dynasty ended.

    I got the NFL Films “America’s Game” of the Dolphins for Christmas and there’s a brief bonus feature where the game is discussed. Most NFL fans don’t appreciate their team’s history but as someone who was only a year old when the Dolphins had their perfect season, I can find many moments that we fans can enjoy, even if we haven’t won the Super Bowl since VIII!

    Comment by C.K. Dexter Haven — January 12, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  2. This game means many things to me although I didn’t see the game in its entirety. Even though I wouldn’t become a viewing Dolfan until I attended my first Dolphin game four years later in 1978 in the Orange Bowl. Looking back at Dolphin history and my own it was a landmark date in time. This was a crippling end of a great team and the end of my innocence as my Father revealed to me as when I questioned as a seven year old that Santa Claus did not exist a few days before that X-Mas. Two months later, my mother left my Father and we moved to a small apartment in nearby Hialeah with Grandma, as Kiick, Warfield and Csonka left Miami for the World Football League.

    Comment by George P Fernandez — February 26, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  3. This game was so good and the ending so incredible, I became a Raider fan on the spot. I was 8 years old.

    Comment by David A. Simone — October 25, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  4. I was 11 yrs old when I saw this game on tv. Growing up in the bay area the raiders were my heros. I would die to have the original game in its entirety. I can still remember our next door neighbor rushing over after the game yelling did you see thaatttt?..I was stunned when Xmas day came and my parents had 2 tix to the AC championship game the following week . Unfortunately the steelers came to town and ended the raiders season.

    Comment by Guy callari — March 28, 2013 @ 3:58 pm


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