OF ALL THE SUPER BOWLS I've ever covered, VIII, Miami vs.
Minnesota, remains the most anonymous. I can barely remember the
score. O.K., 24-7, Miami. I had to look it up. Another typical
annihilation of the Vikes, which always happens when they get this
far. I remember that Larry Csonka ran like crazy and Bob Griese threw
only seven passes in the game, and it was over after Miami's first
two possessions, which produced 14 points.
Bob Kuechenberg, the Dolphins' left guard, once told me that the
players felt the '73 team was better than the unbeaten '72 squad,
mainly because the defense was better and Griese was healthy for the
whole season. Kuechenberg said that in almost every game they drove
and scored on their first possession. They did it on their first two
against the Vikings.
I remember reading something in the paper after the Dolphins beat
Detroit 34-7 (and it wasn't a bad Detroit team, either -- at least
not like now) in the last regular-season game. Griese said he had
thrown a lot in that game because it was necessary to get the
passing attack tuned up for the playoffs. That was the expression he
used, ''tuned up.'' He tuned up with four touchdown passes, and I
remember thinking, that's one hell of a tune-up.
The Super Bowl was played in Houston, in Rice Stadium. The gas
shortage was on in the New York area -- long lines, an occasional
shooting, lots of fights -- but when I got to Houston, I was shocked
to see that there were no lines and the price was still about 35
cents a gallon, not even half what it was back home. I got the
feeling something fishy was going on with that whole gas-shortage
Hunter Thompson, the Fear & Loathing guy, covered the game for
Rolling Stone, and people awaited his arrival with genuine dread. Who
would he carve up this time? Well, he didn't disappoint. He carved up
everyone, especially the writers. Only one escaped. I'll give you one
guess who it was. That's right: me. And I'll let you in on how I got
I ran the writers' pool in those days -- a buck a man, closest
score takes the pot. First day there, I'm putting my pool sheets up
on the board, and Thompson drifts into the pressroom and studies what
I'm doing very carefully.
''You going to let me in that thing?'' he said. I knew who he was
right away, and I also knew how he felt about establishment figures,
which I guess I kind of was because I was doing something
semiofficial. He expected me to tell him to get lost.
''Only if you've got a buck,'' I said, and he assured me he had
''Can I enter more than once?'' he asked.
''A buck for each pick,'' I told him, ''and use different names.''
. So he entered about five times, none of his picks coming
close, but he liked the idea that I was willing to be loose in a very
buttoned-up atmosphere. Thompson's Super Bowl piece in Rolling Stone
allowed that I had run the writers' pool in competent fashion.
Thompson invited me out that night to this ''nice little bar'' he
knew. The nice little bar turned out to be the toughest place I'd
ever been in. Large, nasty-looking neighborhood chaps who didn't
welcome strangers. The kind of joint where you drank your drink and
looked straight ahead and spoke when spoken to.
''This place ain't so tough,'' Thompson said after we'd been there
about five minutes. Loud, he said it loud. There was a stirring
about, a soft rumbling sound. The bartender leaned over and told me,
''You'd better get your buddy out of here.''
''Time to go, Hunter,'' I said. He practically hollered back at me
that no gang of thugs was going to run him off. I told him I was
leaving, and he could either come with me or stay, his choice. He
stayed. Next day he came into the pressroom with sunglasses on and
lumps all over him. I didn't want to know what happened.
To prove my point about this being a forgettable game, there were
three stories that got big play that week -- Bud Grant complaining
about sparrows in the Vikings' shower room; the single Miami players
complaining that they had to pay to bring their mothers and
girlfriends along but that the married guys' wives got to come along
for free; and the rumors that the Dolphins' defensive coach, Bill
Arnsparger, was going to the New York Giants as head man.
I worked very hard on that last one because it at least came close
to being news. I got Arnsparger alone at the back of the
press-conference room one afternoon and sat him down, intending to do
a long feature story on his life and times. We talked about
everything but the Giants job, which I was going to mention very
gently after everything was nice and mellow. We were just getting
into the famous University of Kentucky staff that he'd been part of
-- Blanton Collier, Don Shula, Chuck Knox, etc. -- when a another
writer from New York came swinging by.
''What's with the Giants job?'' he blurted to Arnsparger. I could
have killed him.
''That's just what this gentleman was leading up to,'' Arnsparger
said. ''The answer to both of you is, 'No comment.' ''
Arnsparger did go to the Giants, where he lasted 2 1/2 years
before going back to Miami. The Super Bowl Dolphins, with most of
their stars at prime age, had all the makings of a dynasty. That's
what everyone thought after they crushed the Vikings -- a dynasty to
rival Green Bay's. The World Football League put an end to that in
March, grabbing Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield. It took Miami
nine years to get back to the Super Bowl.
''The NFL couldn't stop us,'' Kuechenberg said. ''It took another
league to do it.''
This is an article from the Jan. 2, 1989 issue