NOWADAYS, WHEN I FIND myself part of a media trail drive during
Super Bowl week, the herd bellowing and forever on the move; when I
see guards in the hallways of the hotel where players are staying;
when I see the giant canopies of the press tents, I think back on
Super Bowl II as one dreams of Tahiti.
That one, played in the Orange Bowl, was the first of the 21 I
have covered in person. My newspaper assigned me to the AFL team, the
Oakland Raiders, who were heavy underdogs to the Green Bay Packers. I
was very happy to be covering the Raiders because 1) they were a
terrific bunch of guys and 2) their hotel was in Fort Lauderdale.
Very few rival writers felt like making the trip up from Miami to
What a dream. No guards. Knock on any door -- ''Hey, thanks for
coming up here to talk to us.''
But Johnny Rauch was the dullest Super Bowl coach ever. We were
interviewing him in his room -- they didn't have press suites in
those days -- maybe eight writers in all. Rauch was putting us to
sleep, and the late Jimmy Cannon, columnist for the Hearst syndicate,
finally asked in that machine-gun style of his, ''O.K., there's a gun
to your head. You've got to answer the question. The question is, Do
you run more or pass more? Now remember, there's a gun to your
''I try to balance my offense,'' Rauch said.
''Bang!'' we all yelled.
The Raiders had shattered the record for sacks that season with
67, seven more than any team had ever made. From left to right,
Ike Lassiter, Dan Birdwell, Tom Keating and Ben Davidson were one of
the most underrated front fours in history. ''We didn't even keep
individual sack totals,'' Keating says. ''Ike probably had the
Relentless pressure on the pocket was an early trademark of
managing general < partner Al Davis's Oakland teams. I read that as
the key to the game. Force turnovers, get field position. I didn't
think Oakland quarterback Daryle Lamonica, nicknamed the Mad Bomber,
would be launching many rockets against those Packer cornerbacks,
Bobby Jeter and Herb Adderley. But I didn't think the Packers would
go deep, either: Super Bowl II had the greatest group of cornerbacks
on the field for any postseason game. Oakland's twosome of Hall of
Famer Willie Brown and All-AFL Kent McCloughan could play with
The Pack scored on its first three possessions, with two field
goals and a touchdown. By the half it was 16-7, and the final was
33-14. McCloughan, an early exponent of the Raiders' bump-and-run
coverage, tried to bump Boyd Dowler and was beaten for a 62-yard TD
when his deep help didn't materialize. Dowler was big: 6 ft. 5 in.,
225 pounds. Actually, no man on the Packer squad was under six feet
The Oakland rush got to Bart Starr four times. Keating, playing on
a torn Achilles tendon, had two of the sacks in one of the most
heroic performances in Super Bowl history. The Raiders all felt the
same about the game: They didn't beat us physically; it was
experience that did it.
Vince Lombardi, who was rumored to be stepping down as coach but
to be staying as Packer general manager, proved himself a poor
prophet with this postgame comment: ''I will say this: The history of
the Packers is in the future, as great as it's been in the past.''
This is an article from the Jan. 2, 1989 issue