How Star Trek Actor Jennifer Edwards’ First Movie Enraged Football Fans & Changed TV

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It’s common for football fans to get heated over the outcomes of games, but back in 1968, some let their emotions get the better of them. They not only voiced their frustrations toward NBC, but Jennifer Edwards also received some backlash as a result of the “Heidi Game.” She was only 10 years old when it happened, and when she spoke with NPR about the experience, she said, “I remember feeling that, well, it wasn’t my fault.” Some of the commentary, directed at a little girl, was particularly brutal, as Edwards recalled, “I remember one caption in some paper that said something about ‘the little brat in white stockings that ruined the football game.'”

In what would’ve been the ultimate inside joke for a TV show, “The Love Boat” producers wanted to have Jennifer Edwards and Joe Namath, who quarterbacked the New York Jets in the “Heidi Game,” appear on the show together and fall in love. It never happened, but the two did meet in person years later with Edwards introducing herself as “Heidi.” 

The “Heidi” incident was a pivotal moment in sports broadcasting history, to the point where Edwards appeared on the November 12, 2023, broadcast of Sunday Night Football for the game between the Jets and Las Vegas Raiders to pay tribute to her contributions to the sport. Providing a short statement, Edwards appears on screen and says, “I’m Jennifer Edwards, and 55 years ago this week, a movie I was in as a little girl kind of, how do I say this, got in the way of football.” Decades later, a lot has changed, but the one constant is how much the American public cares about football. 

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