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THE GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD
February 02, 2004
EVER SINCE the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs faced off on a sunny Sunday in Los Angles in 1967, writers have marveled at the bizarre mixture of sport, revelry, commerce and bombast that is the Super Bowl. In the following pages 13 of our favourite writers tell the tales of football's high holy day that they've always kept under wraps
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February 02, 2004

The Greatest Stories Never Told

EVER SINCE the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs faced off on a sunny Sunday in Los Angles in 1967, writers have marveled at the bizarre mixture of sport, revelry, commerce and bombast that is the Super Bowl. In the following pages 13 of our favourite writers tell the tales of football's high holy day that they've always kept under wraps

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"It was like whacking a donkey with a two-by-four," said the chairman of the Michigan Super Bowl Committee of the blitz on Rozelle. The 49ers won the game 26-21. And I lost a week.

THE LONG GOODBYE
On a triumphal night, Michael Silver watched an icon bid farewell to football

BARELY NOTICED BY THE CLEANUP CREW, John Elway walked back through the mist onto the Pro Player Stadium field 90 minutes after the final snap of Super Bowl XXXIII. He was holding hands with his wife, Janet, and moving deliberately across the wet grass.¶ "Can you believe it happened like this?" Elway said. He was emotionally drained. You could hear it in his voice, but there was something else that told you what he was feeling. It was the way he walked. His career was ending, and he wanted to savor every step.

Dared by his former coach and nemesis, Dan Reeves, to beat the Atlanta Falcons with his arm, Elway had thrown for 336 yards in a 34-19 victory. Derided as a symbol of big-game failure after three disastrous Super Bowl outings, Elway had, in two years, completely recast his legacy. He would leave football as a Super Bowl MVP and two-time champion, and he would join Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Otto Graham as part of the Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time discussion.

Later, in room 870 of the Broncos' Fort Lauderdale hotel—where Elway was registered as John Wayne—he took a light beer out of the minibar, lit a cigar and limped out onto die balcony to watch the rain come down.

A MIGHTY WINDBAG
No one could nun a night on the town, Ron Fimrite reports, like Howard Cosell

AS A LOCAL BOY, I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF to act as an unofficial host for East Coast friends at Super Bowl XIX, the first and only one played in the San Francisco Bay Area (at Stanford Stadium). My duties, as I defined them, involved buying the occasional round of drinks and disputing, sometimes with an excess of brio, Eastern bias against my 49ers.

On the eve of the game, though, I felt somewhat more expansive, and upon encountering broadcaster Al Michaels at one of those overpopulated NFL parties, I suggested that he join me for dinner. I had come to know and admire Michaels during his stretch of announcing Giants baseball in the mid-1970s. Since then he had become famous, his "Do you believe in miracles?" hockey call at the 1980 Olympics having given him a prestige he had not enjoyed while gloomily describing the Giants' execrable play of the previous decade. He accepted my invitation, and we were on our way out the door when we were apprehended by an all-too-familiar figure. "Where are you two gentlemen headed?" inquired none other than Howard Cosell.

Without thinking matters through, I replied that we were on our way to a charming little restaurant called Monroe's, on Lombard Street. "Good, I'll join you," Cosell announced.

Now, I had met Humble Howard only once before, and then only briefly, so I assumed that his offensive on-air persona was just an act. Michaels, who had worked with him unhappily, knew better, as his crestfallen expression testified. But before he could protest, we were all in a cab together.

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