Thursday, January 31, 2013
Behind The Scoreboard
Super Bowl memories
There are a few days separating all of the rabid fans from the next grand game on the gridiron – currently being identified as Super Bowl XLVII, which will be held in New Orleans. Just about all the hype which could attend such an occasion has been exposed.
It was released a little over a week ago that advertisement slots of 30 seconds’ duration will cost a cool $4 million plus. And while the sponsors have been playing the ad contest close to the vest, some glimpses have sneaked out, and if true to form, will be entertaining.
And speaking of entertaining, the NFL network has been showing all, yes all, 46 Super Bowls the last two days (Saturday and Sunday). They gave the most enjoyable post views of those games which bring back a flood of memories of the watch parties over the years. Since a lot of you very staunch football fans were not in evidence when this playoff (Super Bowl ) format was actually begun way back when, yours truly thought it would be a good idea to take you on a nostalgic trip back through the journey of the sport which has grown to become the greatest pastime in the world (excluding perhaps, European soccer, which incidentally is also called football).
For a number of years there had been a big brouhaha being bantered about that the new upstart league, the AFL, was a toddler when compared to the almighty NFL. So, there came a time on January 12, 1969, that the New York Jets had defeated the Oakland Raiders (27-23) in the AFL championship game in 1968 with its brash new quarterback, “Broadway” Joe Namath. Broadway Joe had made the circuit of all the super sports venues, with the Miami Touchdown Club being the main one, promising an upset of the dominant NFL when the two met.
Now in that time and space, the Baltimore Colts were considered the professional American football team of all-time. They had defeated the Cleveland Browns in the NFL championship game in a soul numbing 34-0 shutout. However, my favorite coach of all time, Weeb Ewbank, had parted company with the Colts and had been immediately hired to lead the Jets. However, he had left my personal quarterback of all time, John Unitas, at Baltimore under former assistant Don Shula and back-up quarterback Earl Morrall.
This was later to be deemed Super Bowl III, after the leagues got together and included these two contests. Yours truly was in North Dakota at the time, highly anticipating this almost surreal matchup of the legend and the braggart, and had prepared a delicious Super Bowl repast in the basement. And after turning the rest of the preparations over to my wonderful wife, Cornelia, to welcome the bowl party goers, or comers, good friend Richard Murray and I made a last minute reconnaissance to the NCO Club to see how many suckers, ‘er Jets supporters, we could find. Luckily, for us, we found no straight line opposition. They all wanted points. The spread was Colts by 18.
To bring this to a close, which is no less painful and stinging in memory as it was on that frigid day in North Dakota, the first Super Bowl to feature celebrities in its pregame, Bob Hope and Apollo astronauts and Anita Bryant singing the national anthem, Coach Shula had to retire Earl Morrall and go to “the man” John Unitas, down by 16-0 and about three minutes left to play. The braggart had made good his prediction with a 16-7 victory.
As Richard and I lay writhing on the basement floor, thankful that we had found no takers, I don’t think of would have cared if Ms. Bryant had lip-synched.
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