The First Super Bowl I Remember
As I write my weekly post on this rainy Friday, a (hopefully) peaceful transfer of power is taking place in our Nation’s Capital on this Inauguration Day 2017. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, I think we can all agree that the USA is still the greatest country in the world. Enough said…
This weekend is also Championship Weekend in the NFL. By sometime Sunday night we will have our 2 participants in Super Bowl 51. A lot of people who don’t have a horse in the race are loving the idea of NFL Comish Roger Goodell having to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Belichick and Brady after all that’s gone down with “Deflategate”. The Patriots continue their Revenge Tour this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also have a trophy case full of “Lombardi’s”. This shapes up to be a classic battle of 2 teams with premiere quarterbacks.
The NFC title game promises to be a high-octane shootout as the Green Bay Packers travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, who have the league’s top offense. The Pack, of course, has Aaron Rogers, who continues to work his post season magic. Despite the game being in “Hot-lanta”, I think that Green Bay will move on, simply because of Rogers’ playoff experience.
Now…on to today’s topic:
Our station owner asked me this week what was the first Super Bowl I remember, and my answer was instantaneous: Super Bowl III. Super Bowls I & II were blowouts, as the established NFL made easy work of the upstart AFL, with the first 2 World Championships going to Green Bay. So when the NFL Champ Baltimore Colts lined up against the AFL’s New York Jets on a January Sunday in Miami, most people expected the same result, as the Colts were made 16 point favorites.
Except for a confident (even cocky) quarterback from Western Pennsylvania named Joe Namath. “Broadway Joe” made headlines the week leading up to the Big Game, by guaranteeing victory as he basked on a lounge chair in the Florida sun.
As I remember it, my Dad, like many conservative Americans, wanted the old guard Colts to grind the Jets into the Orange Bowl turf. With Curt Gowdy providing the play-by-play, the Jets rendered the NFL champs ineffective, while Namath’s efficient passing, and the running of Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer chewed up the clock. In the end the New York Jets shocked the establishment with a 16-7 win, one of the greatest upsets in pro football history.
One of my memories of the game is of late in the contest , when an aging, battered Johnny Unitas came on in relief of Earl Morall to try to bring the Colts back. Johnny U was basically a shadow of himself and couldn’t throw the ball 20 yards. It’s funny how NFL Films portrays Unitas in Super Bowl III, showing him marching the Colts down the field with completion after completion. In reality, NFL Films showed the same pass play over and took some license in glorifying the once-great quarterback.
The game also signalled the eventual merger of the NFL and AFL, and was, in a way, a microcosm of late 60’s America: a stodgy, conservative, crew-cut & high-top wearing old-guard squaring off against a vibrant, youthful, long-haired, white shoe-wearing younger generation.
But what I remember most is Broadway Joe, index finger held high, running off the field in triumph, an image preserved for all time in Super Bowl history.
That’s it from the Booth! God Bless the USA, and GO HORNETS!