SI Vault
 
What are they doing with the sacred game of pro football?
Edwin Shrake
October 25, 1971
By nine o'clock on Saturday night the London Chop House in Detroit already had enough people in it to start another suburb, and dozens more were waiting at the red velvet rope and lined up along the stairs to the street, and if you phoned for a reservation you were told it didn't matter if you were Henry Ford bringing Prince Charles in for a bucket of snails, it would be hours before you could have a table.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 25, 1971

What Are They Doing With The Sacred Game Of Pro Football?

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

On the way to the stadium the taxi driver kept glancing in his mirror at Gifford and Meredith in the back seat, and finally he asked why they were going to the game a night early.

"We have to rehearse the big plays," Gifford said. "Some of the long passes and runs, you know, they're so hard that we have to do them several times to make sure we get them just right for television."

"Them Minnesota Vikings, where are they from?" asked the driver.

" Madison, Wisconsin," Meredith said.

"I knew it was someplace like that," said the driver.

Cosell was waiting at the stadium with the 50-man crew, the two mobile units and the $2 million worth of equipment, and he was impatient to begin.

"Come on, you two jocks, let's get this over with, a talent's time is valuable," he said.

"Howard stays mad at me because I'm an ex-Giant," Gifford said. "I can't help but think in terms of a straight football game. Even Don thinks more in terms of show business. Howard just calls it a show."

Gifford fluffed the first taping of the introduction by referring to Detroit Cornerback Lent Barney as Mel. The three laughed it off and tried again. Three and a half hours later they were not nearly so amused. Each of them had blown at least one introduction, and it was past midnight before Forte had four minutes he felt were usable. While waiting for a camera to be moved, the three rushed back to the hotel bar, where Cosell insisted on introducing Meredith to Viking Coach Bud Grant. On a show last year Meredith had commented that in a personality contest between Grant and Dallas Coach Tom Landry there would be no winner.

"He says you're very dull and cold and lifeless, Bud," said Cosell.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9