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Ten Most Hyped Super Bowl Stories


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From Sports Illustrated

 

"How long have you been a black quarterback?" :D

 

1. Joe Namath's guarantee, Super Bowl III

Broadway Joe had a busy week in Miami. He nearly got into a bar fight with Colts lineman-turned-kicker Lou Michaels, though Namath defused the tension by buying the entire bar a round of drinks. Death threats on Namath led to a hotel-room visit by two FBI agents to check that a sniper wouldn't have a clear shot. What people remember most, of course, was Namath announcing at the Miami Touchdown Club three days before the game, "The Jets will win on Sunday, I guarantee it." Namath made good on his seemingly unlikely boast by leading the AFL upstart to a 16-7 win over the mighty Colts, favored at kickoff by 19½ points.

 

2. Jim McMahon's wild week, Super Bowl XX

The Bears' punk-idol quarterback made life hard for himself in the Big Easy. After commissioner Pete Rozelle had outlawed McMahon's adidas headband, the QB sported the handmade one reading "Rozelle" that he had first worn for the NFC Championship Game. In addition, McMahon refused to practice until he had an acupuncturist treat his sore hindquarters, then mooned a TV helicopter under the guise of showing the media what it wanted to see. McMahon came under the most fire for something he didn't even do, when an erroneous report said the quarterback had called the New Orleans women "sluts." That led to pickets and death threats. Nevertheless, McMahon ran for two scores in Chicago's easy 46-10 victory.

 

 

3. The Doug Williams question, Super Bowl XXII

During Media Day, the first African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl game was asked, "How long have you been a black quarterback?" Instantly, the question vaulted to the top of the not insubstantial list of alltime dopey questions from the media hordes that descend upon the Super Bowl. Over time, various parts of the story have been questioned, including whether the reporter (who had covered Williams as a collegiate player at Grambling) had been misinterpreted or misquoted, if a supposedly crucial second half of the query had been drowned out by laughter, and even if the famous question had been popped on Media Day or later in the week. No matter, the legend is too strong. Honorable mention: Before Super Bowl XV, Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett was asked, "Let me get this straight, Jim. Is it blind mother-deaf father, or the other way around?" Actually, both of Plunkett's parents were blind.

 

4. Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson's woofing, Super Bowl XIII

The Cowboys linebacker certainly brought his A game to media sessions that week. He questioned the intelligence of Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw: "Bradshaw couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the C and the A." He dissed Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert: "I don't care for the man. He makes more money than I do, and he don't have no teeth." Even Pittsburgh backups such as Randy Grossman came under fire: "How much respect can you have for a reserve tight end? He's the guy who comes in when everyone else is dead." But the Steelers had the better lines during their 35-31 win, with Mean Joe Greene telling Hollywood, "What's a superstar like you doing on a kickoff team?"

 

5. Len Dawson's supposed gambling scandal, Super Bowl IV

During the week leading up to kickoff, a report on NBC's Huntley-Brinkley newscast said the Chiefs quarterback was scheduled to be called as a prospective witness in a nationwide investigation into sports gambling. It never happened, but many observers thought the media firestorm would negatively affect Dawson's play. No such luck for the Vikings, as Dawson won MVP honors in Kansas City's 23-7 victory.

 

6. President Nixon's pass play, Super Bowl VI

At 1 a.m. after the Dolphins beat the Colts for the AFC Championship, the leader of the free world phoned Miami coach Don Shula with some play calling advice. Nixon, a former wide receiver for Whittier (Calif.) College, recommended that Shula instruct quarterback Bob Griese to look for Paul Warfield on a down-and-in pattern. Nixon was a Redskins fan but was also happy to help anyone playing the Cowboys. Alas, the pass attempt on Miami's eighth play from scrimmage sailed high and the Cowboys went on to win 24-3.

 

7. Darryl Talley's barroom scuffle, Super Bowl XXVII

Talley suffered a smackdown the Sunday before the game from Magic Johnson's bodyguard at a Sunset Boulevard nightspot called Roxbury. The 6-foot-4 bodyguard with a martial arts background, who went solely by the name Anthony, allegedly "flipped" Talley before showing mercy, though as usual accounts differed. Talley had to deal with media questions and teammates' barbs about the incident all week. Things didn't get any better during the game, as the Cowboys dealt Talley and the Bills their third straight Super Bowl defeat, 52-17.

 

8. Ray Buchanan and Shannon Sharpe, Super Bowl XXXIII

Buchanan, a mouthy Falcons cornerback, started his woofing before he even arrived in Miami by guaranteeing an Atlanta victory. Broadway Ray turned up the heat during Media Day, showing up in a studded dog collar to represent the Falcons' underdog status. Then he repeatedly dissed Denver's star tight end: "That's an ugly dude. You can't tell me he doesn't look like Mr. Ed." Sharpe returned fire the same day with taunts including, "Tell Ray to put the eyeliner, the lipstick and the high heels away. I'm not saying he's a cross-dresser, that's just what I heard." By game day, though, the goat horns went not to Buchanan but secondary mate Eugene Robinson, who was arrested for solicitation the night before the game and then was repeatedly burned in Denver's 34-19 win.

 

9. Miami riots, Super Bowl XXIII

Sometimes the pregame hype is overtaken by more serious local matters. That was the case five days before this game, when a riot started in the Overtown section of the city after a black motorcyclist had been shot and killed by a Hispanic policeman. Overtown burned the next two days while the Bengals were advised to stay indoors at their hotel just a half-dozen blocks away. The players could see the fires from their rooms. The game will be remembered for its stirring finish -- Joe Montana's 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left -- but the riots cast a pall over the usual pre-Super Bowl mirth.

 

10. The Raiders on Bourbon Street, Super Bowl XV

The freewheeling Raiders painted New Orleans silver and black the week before the game. Wild man John Matuszak all but offered to pay his fine up front for breaking curfew, then made good on his word by spending a wild Wednesday night in the French Quarter. The Eagles' no-nonsense coach, Dick Vermeil, told his players that anyone caught out past curfew would be sent home. "If he were coaching the Raiders," said Oakland guard Gene Upshaw, "he'd look up and down the sideline on game day, and he'd be all alone." The Raiders got their act together by gametime, bouncing the sober-minded Eagles 27-10.

 

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