In the late 1960s, many young people protested against the customs and traditions of society. These young people who called themselves “hippies” thought people should always say what they feel and act accordingly. The hippies let their hair grow long, wore odd-looking clothing, many refused to work, and large numbers used drugs, such as marijuana and LSD. Around the country law enforcement officers were committed to enforcing the laws on the use of illegal drugs. When a hippie was arrested, some members of their group would attempt to disrupt the court proceedings by shouting and calling the police officers “pigs,” while still others formed large groups outside of the building chanting and protesting.
In the fall of 1970, a citizen called the East Lansing Police Department to report that trespassers that looked like “hippies” were on the playing field of a local high school. When the officer arrived he asked the longhaired young men to leave the field. They refused. During the ensuing conversations the hippies or “freaks” challenged the “pigs” to a football game. The officer accepted the challenge.
On November 7, 1970, police officers from surrounding agencies, the “Pigs,” met the “Freaks” for a football game on that same field. Over 7,000 fans watched the Freaks legally yell at the Pigs as they won the game 12-7. A comradery developed between the two groups and a total of six Bull Bowls were held at the MSU stadium to accommodate the large group of fans. The police ran onto the field in their red and white uniforms while the younger men of the Freaks team, most with long hair, beards, and mustaches, wore black uniforms and had a marijuana leaf painted on their helmets. Danny Thomas, television star and founder of St. Jude’s hospital, made a personal appearance to thank everyone involved for the donations made to St. Jude’s. In 1972, a home movie of the game brought national awards to Jack Epps, its producer, that led to an NBC movie along the theme of the Pigs and Freaks game of 1972–the only game the Pigs won 14-13.
‘Pigs vs. Freaks’ Charity Football Game, Lansing State Journal, January 4, 2015.
Bull Bowls – Pigs vs. Freaks, Lansing Police Department Historical Web Site.
The Pigs vs. the Freaks / produced by Jack Epps, Jr. ; directed by Jack Epps, Jr., Jeff Jackson. [Taos, N.M. : Taos Land & Film], c2011. 1 videodisc (28 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. MSU Kline Digital/Multimedia Center GV959.53.E27 P54 2011 VideoDVD : A documentary about year three of the Bull Bowl, an annual charity football game between East Lansing police and students at Michigan State University.
Also available for purchase.
Pigs-Freaks rivalry returns to spotlight
Panel discussion to recall charity gridiron battles; Panel discussion to recall charity gridiron battles, April 25, 2003. Includes article by Hugh Leach, Lansing State Journal.
Bill Iddings, “The ‘Paper Freak’ looks back at football days that weren’t”, Muskegon Chronicle, September 1, 2010.