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