But in historic terms, no one argues its importance.
"That game made such a tremendous difference," he says. "After that game, there was tremendous enthusiasm for the sport. Fans were everywhere. Stadiums filled up. And in Baltimore, I was able to open my first restaurant. That game made that possible. It also made it possible for the guys on our team to go out and find jobs in the off-season." L Definitely different times. Pro football was part-time work.
Marchetti would eventually make a fortune when his one Gino's restaurant mushroomed to 500 and he sold them to Marriott Corp.
"Winning that game, it was just such a great feeling," Marchetti says. "The game became so popular, and we became prosperous."
Meaning for all
Chris Schenkel, the voice of the Giants, and Chuck Thompson, the Colts play-by-play man, formed the broadcast team at Yankee Stadium that day in 1958.
"That game made pro football and gave everyone who played in it an everlasting legacy," recalls Schenkel, 75.
"Before that game, people would ask me, 'What do you do?' And I'd say, 'I broadcast Giants games.' And they'd say, 'Oh, baseball.' It would make me mad. But after that game, that never happened again."
Thompson, the longtime voice of the Colts and Orioles, also benefited.
"I think it had a good deal to do in helping me to stay here all these years," says Thompson, who called the overtime period. "I became recognized with the Colts and then the Orioles. People ask me about that '58 game more than they do about any other. Doing that game, it helped make my acceptance a lot easier."
In Philadelphia, Johnny Sample owns a radio station and does a radio sports talk show. In 1958, he was a rookie out of Maryland State College (now Maryland Eastern Shore). He got in the game in the historic overtime, when cornerback Milt Davis was forced to the sideline with a broken foot.
Davis says now that he doesn't believe Sample "ever got enough credit" for the way he played that day. But that game was Sample's steppingstone.
He went from the Colts to the Jets with coach Ewbank, became the Jets' defensive captain and played a major role in what is perhaps the second-most-important game in pro football history, Super Bowl III, in which the Jets upset the Colts and smoothed the merger between the NFL and the American Football League.
"Every week, someone calls and asks about the 1958 game," says Sample. "They ask about players. 'Where's Big Daddy? How's Gino Marchetti? How's Don Joyce?' It was an amazing game. There were so many legendary players on both sides. It had TV ratings for the last four minutes triple any ratings pro football had ever had. I remember thinking 'If they catch a TD pass, I'll be a goat the rest of my life.' "
In the 1950s, football was personal. Players could be found in local pubs, having a beer with the fans. They made about the same amount of money as the guys down at Bethlehem Steel. They were part of the community.
Donovan remembers fans invited players to bull roasts, "and we'd go. They got to know us."
The players lived right down the block. Some still do.