Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 02-01-17

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
HOUSTON - There is an ageless proverb credited to the French that says: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The guy who coined that never thought it would apply to the Super Bowl, a more recent (in the timeline of history) event created by the NFL. But it is perfectly true and fulfills all the implicit definitions.

Sunday you will have the opportunity to view the 51st renewal of this game, which pits the champions of the two conferences, AFC and NFC, against each other for the mythical pro football world championship.

There are only three of us in the media world who have covered all 50 games, and all are here for their 51st. Two of them are semi- or almost fully retired, but your correspondent transferred via early retirement from The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger to E-GIANTS and never broke the string. The other two return from their retirement homes out west to scribble a few columns each year, but they are guaranteed a presence at each Super Bowl.

So here we are in spotlessly-clean and impeccably secure Houston, and now the reference to the French proverb comes into play. There will be almost 15,000 media credentials dispensed by the time the two teams kick off - New England, of course, and Atlanta. And by the way, doesn't it seem to you that the Patriots are in this game almost every year?

It seems as though many of those credentials were doled out to grammar school kids, who weren't even around when the 25th Super Bowl was played. We three are referred to as "the old guys who haven't missed a game," and in all honesty, the "streak," as we call it, is far more a tribute to longevity than to merit.

I remember Super Bowl the First, although then it was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. It was held in Los Angeles and the blasé locals simply shrugged their sun-tanned shoulders and looked elsewhere. The tickets for the game in the L.A. Coliseum went for $10 and $12 and it remains the only Super Bowl that was not a sellout.

Things improved, of course. In the final dual-league game two years later, the upstart New York Jets stunned the heavily-favored (18˝ points) Baltimore Colts. That effectively leveled the competition, especially since the two leagues agreed to merge and realign. There are very few who recall the bitterness with which the separate leagues conducted business, how they hired "scouts" to hide valued draft picks from each other so that signings could be completed at the moment.

Yes, the "three old guys" were there for that, too. So were many, many others who came up short in the longevity business and thus missed this 51st renewal. One such writer-columnist, the now-retired Dave Anderson, was told by his far-thinking sports editor to pass on the first game. "It's a sham," he was told. "It won't last. Go to Boston this weekend, the Knicks are playing an important game against the Celtics."

And thus did Anderson miss becoming one of the few who have covered all the Super Bowls.

The list of Hall of Fame sportswriters extends far and wide, from Wells Twombley to Edwin Pope, from Dave Nightingale to Jim Murray, from Dick Connor to Tex Maule ... well, there are too many to recount, too many to remember, and one shouldn't forget the guy from LA who was on the unbroken list through 48 games until he decided to stay home to care for his ailing wife.

I am constantly being asked to name my "favorite" Super Bowl game, and I usually come up with Game One, because it was the first and because I was there and because in a unique way, it was a view into the future of this game that has changed dramatically and yet remains the nation's favorite.

Oh, sure, favorite moments are in abundance. Joe Montana's dramatic game-winning touchdown pass to win a game in Miami ... Lynn Swann's impossible catches for the Steelers against the Cowboys ... Max McGee's one-handed, behind-the-back catch of a Bart Starr touchdown pass against the Chiefs in the first game ... David Tyree's "helmet catch" for the Giants against the ever-present Patriots.

And so many, many more. None of the geniuses from NFL Films has ever decided to produce a video (didn't we used to call them films?) of Super Bowl highlights, from Game 1 through Game 50. I wonder why not?

As for Sunday, the shocking news is that Atlanta is only a three-point underdog. How can that be? Didn't the odds-makers ask Bill Belichick, the head coach of the Patriots his opinion first?

The one event that most of the nation is waiting for is that when the Patriots win, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will have to present the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots' owner Robert Kraft. The two, who used to be close friends, were torn apart when Goodell ruled against New England in the now-famous Deflate-Gate incident and fined the team $1 million, took away a first-round draft pick last year and suspended quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the 2016 season.

Now, against heavy odds, there is Kraft's team in the spotlight once again, and if the Patriots win then Goodell is going to have to hand the ultimate trophy to Kraft, and perhaps, moments later, to Brady.

Now THAT'S something to anticipate, and yes, it would rank among the greatest moments in the history of this distinctly American game.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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