Heading into their showdown on November 17, 1968, the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders were both 7-2 and headed for the playoffs. It was a seesaw battle, with the lead changing four times before the Jets went up 32-29 on a field goal by Jim Turner with a little more than a minute left to play and 7pm Eastern time fast approaching.
The day's action was being broadcast by NBC, who had scheduled a family-friendly made-for-TV film, Heidi, to start at 7pm. The Venn diagram of football fans and people dying to watch Heidi, about a young girl growing up in the Swiss Alps, likely would've looked like two balloons kissing.
NBC president Julian Goodman was keeping an eye on the game and new that scheduling be damned, his network should stick the game, and so he made the necessary call to keep Heidi at bay, but somewhere along the way, the message got lost and NBC's East Coast feed switched over to the Swiss miss, sparking an avalanche of angry phone calls that eventually blew a fuse at NBC's switchboard.
Just moments after the film started, the Raiders' Daryl Lamonica completed a 43-yard touchdwon pass to Charlie Smith. With the subsequent extra point, the Raiders were 36-32, but the Joe Namath and Jets had 42 seconds to make a miracle happen. Namath had been brilliant that, passing for 381 yards a touchdown, but he would never take the field.
On the ensuing kick-off, Jets return man Earl Christy fumbled the ball, tNew York's first turnover of the game. The ball was scooped up by the Raiders' Preston Ridlehuber, who then fell into the end zone, giving the Raiders their second TD in the span of 9 seconds on the clock. The final score was 43-32.
David Brinkley concluded the next day's The Huntley–Brinkley Report (22:01) with a recounting of NBC's gaffe, before introducing the final minute of the game by saying, "Here is the last minute as it would have been seen, if somebody at NBC had gotten the word."
"It was a forgivable error committed by humans who were concerned about the children who were expecting to see 'Heidi,'" Goodman said in a statement. "I missed seeing the end of the game as much as anyone else, and we deeply regret the error."
Goodman would remain as president of the network until 1974, when he became chairman of the board. He retired in 1979.
The New York Jets, for their part recovered nicely from the loss, getting revenge against the Raiders 27-23 in the AFL Championship game, before going on to victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.