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SUPER VIEWPOINT

Jan. 02, 1989
Jan. 02, 1989

Table of Contents
Jan. 2, 1989

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SUPER VIEWPOINT

IN THE 22 YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE, THE SUPER BOWL HAS BECOME the
preeminent spectacle in American sports. A worldwide television
audience estimated at 750 million watches it, 2,500 journalists cover
it, and everyone talks about it for days afterward. Reason enough for
this special issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, which is unlike any other
we have produced. It's for sale mainly on newsstands, and there are
no advertisements to interrupt your reading. In some respects it
resembles a book more than a magazine, and that was indeed our aim:
We envisioned it as a volume to be saved and savored.
''We realized we had an incredible photo archive that was going
untapped,'' says SI's assistant circulation director, Chuck Davis.
''Our file cabinets are full of great pictures that appeared once in
the magazine -- or maybe not at all -- and then were stored away. We
hope this is only the first in a series of special issues that make
use of that tremendous resource.''
On the following pages you will find some of the finest work of 13
photographers. You will also read an insightful account of each Super
Bowl by SI senior writer Paul Zimmerman -- otherwise known as Dr. Z
-- who has covered every Super Bowl except the first one, in 1967,
and is probably the most knowledgeable pro football writer extant.
Zimmerman, a lineman at Stanford and Columbia who went on to play
U.S. Army and semipro ball until age 36, is the author of seven books
on the sport, including Duane Thomas and the Fall of America's Team,
which was published last year. He began working the pro football beat
for the New York Post in 1966 and has been SI's main pro football
writer. He, too, is quite a resource.
The library in Dr. Z's Boonton, N.J., home is a repository of
football history. It contains 3,000 game charts and hundreds of
notebooks. ''I save everything,'' says Zimmerman. ''I've charted
games since 1947. I have 42 years of charts in there.'' On game day
Dr. Z may be found in the press box, cigar in mouth, keeping three
charts. One is a play-by-play (which, as you will discover, includes
a stat on the length of that game's national anthem); the second is a
pass-frequency chart that tracks receivers and defenders,
identifies coverages, and notes routes, even for incomplete passes;
and the third pinpoints outstanding blocks and defensive-line plays.
Zimmerman is such a stickler for accuracy that the official stat crew
at the 1975 Super Bowl twice tried to chase him out of the press room
after he kept pestering them to correct a mistake he had found in the
final rushing totals. (The crew eventually rechecked its numbers and
found that Dr. Z was right.)
When Zimmerman was asked to write the text for this issue, he went
into his library and pulled out 21 Super Bowl programs, each with a
set of game charts tucked inside, and 22 Super Bowl notebooks. (Even
though Dr. Z didn't attend Super Bowl I -- the Post sent a more
senior writer -- he kept charts and took notes based on the TV
broadcast.)
''My favorite Super Bowl week was 1969 because I was a beat writer
covering the Jets,'' says Dr. Z. ''I lived the experience with them.
But the best game was Steelers-Rams in '80. Even though Colts-Cowboys
in '71 was the only game decided in the final seconds, that one was
so poorly played it was just a matter of who would mess up more.
Steelers-Rams was played the way Super Bowls are supposed to be
played.''

This is an article from the Jan. 2, 1989 issue