On Jan. 25, 1981, 52 Americans were released after 444 days in captivity in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Now, 35 years later, NFL Films showcased their latest edition of the series The Timeline with the film America’s Game and the Iran Hostage Crisis.
While the film — which ran just over an hour —documented the political situation surrounding the Iran Hostage Crisis, it focused on the impact of the NFL on the hostages and their families.
From journalist Alex Paen delivering tapes of the Super Bowl for the hostages to listen to, to the family of one hostage taping every game for their father for when he was released, there were a lot of sentimental stories in the film.
Yet again, the special showed how sports and world events come together to meet head-on. When the hostages were finally released, they were all invited to the Super Bowl, which was taking place the next day at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
There was a giant yellow bow on the side of the gigantic stadium to commemorate their arrival which was meant to welcome the hostages in and make them feel welcome again in the United States.
One can only speculate about what the former hostages actually felt when they saw that bow and watched America’s Game again for the first time after they were released, but one can imagine it was very similar to what they felt when they heard on the hand-delivered tapes that the Super Bowl prior to the one in Louisiana was being recorded for them to hear.
Despite a horrific situation that lasted over 400 days, football always remained a crucial part of the lives of the people involved. The NFL had that impact over people back in the 1970s and 1980s and the NFL, and by extension sports in general, hold a great impact over people’s lives today. An appreciation for sports is why fans wear soccer jerseys year-round, cry when their teams lose, go crazy when their team wins or throw a party when the Super Bowl is on.
The Super Bowl has a resounding effect over many people in the country and for the people that are even bigger fans of the sport, it can be the only thing that gets them through rough times in their lives. In this case, it was and would continue to be the only sign of light in a very bleak time for the people that were taken in Iran.