SUPER BOWL MEMORIES

Barry Warner: Q&A sessions with Jerry Kramer, Joe Greene and Roger Staubach

Cowboys legend Roger Staubach has fond Super Bowl memories. Wikipedia

It is hard to believe 53 years later how far the Super Bowl has come.  Tickets at the LA Coliseum for Super Bowl I were between $8 and $12. Compare that to the face value prices today.

Two networks broadcast the game, in which the stands were only two thirds filled. Today we look at the extravaganza through the eyes of two Hall of Famers, plus Jerry Kramer who is up for election Saturday. A Q&A with each of them:

Jerry Kramer

Q: What was it like to finally take on the younger AFL?

A: Parts of it like yesterday and parts seem very far away. I remember practice and Kansas City had talented players.  We had been watching films and we were underwhelmed. We were not sure who they were.”

Q: How did Vince Lombardi handle it?

A: We were in Santa Barbara away from the LA scene.   He was really nervous and I did not know how much until I few years later, having a drink with Frank Gifford. Gifford said ‘Jerry, I was cool, had everything together knowing the size of the audience, I was in good shape. I went up to my former running backs coach with the Giants and put my hand on his shoulder; Lombardi was shaking like a leaf.’ Coach did good job of hiding it from us.”

Q: Was that the most single import game you even played under Lombardi?

A: I think the next championship was more important to us. That’s the ring I wear. Nobody had ever won three straight titles. Lombardi reminded us of that fact from the first meeting at training camp. That was the most difficult. It was a great accomplishment.

Q: What is it about Brady?

A:  It’s the whole team. They understand exactly what they do and very seldom do they make mistakes. The whole is organization is a lot like ours.  Sensational season and career. Bill is like Coach Lombardi, brilliant tactician who gets the most out of his players.

Joe Greene

The leader of the Steel Curtain dynasty was Mean Joe Greene, the J.J. Watt of his era in the seventies. Those teams won four Super Bowls.

Q: What was it like getting to that first Super Bowl?

A:  We had a double-digit lead as the clock wound down in Oakland, giving me the most incredible feeling ever on the football field.

Q:  The first of the Steelers run to four Super Bowls was about to begin. Under Chuck Noll, the Steelers went from 1-13 in 1969 to bac to back Super Bowl wins in 1974 and 1975. That was helped by the 1974 draft, the best in NFL history. Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster all came from that draft. What did they mean to the team and what motivated you personally?

A:  All joined me in the Hall of Fame.  There was never any loss of confidence for me, but it was always team directed. But in 1977 the press started writing I was done.  True, injuries had slowed me down but I took it personally.  That’s why the SB win over Dallas, sacking Staubach was a great personal feeling for me.

Q: What is it like watching Brady?

A:  He is more than a super athlete. The quick release makes it difficult to bring him down, plus he is tall and can see over defenses.  But I think the trait that separates Tom is the ability to be an outstanding thinker.

Q: What’s it like in your home this Sunday?

A:  I go into my office and gather my four Super Bowl Rings. Then I proudly display them on a table, away from the food. I tell my friends and family this is the reward for hard work, playing with pain, putting your ego away all for your team. I know what every man is going through, but fortunately never had to take the losing feeling with me.

Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach won a Heisman Trophy, then fulfilled his five-year commitment to the Navy before joining the Cowboys. The quarterback known as Captain America got an interesting welcome to the NFL.

Q:  How did the road to five Super Bowls start for you?

A: My first exhibition game out of the Navy was against the Packers.  For some  strange reason linebacker Ray Nitschke was still in the game.  That was the summer that Don Meredith retired, giving me a shot at the roster.

I ran out of the pocket, then decided I was going to try and put a move on the great Hall of Famer. It was the first concussion I ever had. It taught me a lesson; run out of bounds or slide.

Q: The Cowboys of the seventies went to five Super Bowls, winning two and losing three by a total of ten points. Super Bowl VI, you were voted the game’s MVP. What was that feeling like, beating Miami?

A: I felt like I was quarterbacking Meredith’s team. Herb Adderley, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Lilly, Cornell Green, Bob Hayes, Chuck Howley and Jethro Pugh. It’s the most excited I had ever been. Coach Landry was carried off the field. One of my teammates holding him was Walt Garrison. He was asked if if he ever seen Coach Landry smile. Walt replied, ‘No, but I’ve only been  here nine years.’

Q: Super Bowl XII you faced your old friend and teammate Craig Morton and Denver. Something cool was pulled off by a member of the media. Verne Lundquist arranged for both of you guys to be snuck out of your hotel rooms for an exclusive interview the Friday night before the Super Bowl.

A: We both had such respect for Verne when he was just a local sportscaster.  That could never happen today.

Q: What is it so magical and mystical about Tom Brady from your eyes?

A: Incredibly dedicated. I’ve known Coach Belichick for years since his dad coached at Annapolis and we have talked about this. All quarterbacks must have capabilities. Brady has all those qualities and more.  Confidence in yourself and transferring that to your teammates cannot be measured by stats. He has such a quick read of defenses.

Q: How will the family spend the game?

A: With five kids, 15 grandchildren and two great grandchildren most of the time we need an event planner just for lunch! They are all sports fans.  It’s great to be their father and grandfather.  Marianne and I have been married 52 years.  Even without football it’s a great life.

 

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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