There is an American Football League rule against using champagne in a locker room for the purpose of a) drinking, b) sloshing on people or c) posing for cameras with. The idea, of course, is to improve the tone of celebrations.
"We just don't think it looks very elegant to see a bunch of athletes pouring champagne," says AFL President Milt Woodard. So the Kansas City Chiefs carried half a dozen cases of special domestic mouthwash into their locker room last Sunday, popped the corks and stood around gargling joyously at each other—their right as the AFL's 1966 champions and the league's first representative in the Super Bowl game against the NFL.
"Gentlemen," said Middle Linebacker Sherrill Headrick, climbing atop a trunk and calling for attention, "I would like to announce that I am very, very happy at this moment." The announcement was almost lost among the exploding corks, the yelling, the wrestling and the other announcements that were being made simultaneously. It was entirely wasted on one thin, quiet, handsome fellow who was out of his uniform and into the shower before the Chiefs' owner, Lamar Hunt, could even struggle up the stairs into the locker room.
Lenny Dawson—known as Daddy Cool Breeze to the Chiefs—was knotting his tie and combing his hair while most of his teammates were still tearing the tape off their hands and ankles.
Although he had been subjected to a pass rush that had thrown him for 63 yards in losses, Dawson, the Kansas City quarterback, looked as if he had just come in from the golf course. That is the Dawson way. "Inside," says his coach, Hank Stram, "Lenny may be dying. Outside, you'd never guess it."
Last Sunday, in the Chiefs' 31-7 defeat of the Buffalo Bills on a thoroughly cold, wet, miserable day in Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium, Dawson was superb. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. He ran five times for 28 yards. He faced up to a confusing blitz. He called more audibles than usual. It was such a big day that Dawson almost admitted it.
"This," he said, "is the second most thrilling day of my life." The second most thrilling? "Yeah," he said. "The first most thrilling is coming up on January 15."
Although they had just finished beating a very tough team, the Chiefs began at once to think about their next opponents—the Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay- Dallas game had not begun at the time the Chiefs got through with Buffalo, but the Packers were the team on the minds of the Kansas City players.
"Personally, I'd much rather play Green Bay than Dallas," said Jerry Mays, who has been All-AFL at both defensive end and tackle. "I'd be so high against Dallas [he was born there and went to college at SMU] that it might hurt me. But the reason I'd rather play Green Bay is that the Packers are established as the best in the NFL over a period of years. We want to play the best. If we had to play Dallas and we beat the Cowboys, people would say, 'Oh, well, the Cowboys were a fluke team, anyway.'
"This is not taking anything away from the Cowboys, but they have no more experience than we have. They started the same year we did. My opinion may be biased, prejudiced and naive, but I don't see how any team could have had a tougher defensive line than Buffalo. I don't think it's possible."