The one Super Bowl that I covered that included the Vikings was on Jan. 12, 1975. It was cold in New Orleans, the Superdome was not yet complete, and the game was played in Tulane Stadium.
Truth be told, the game had been preceded by a few thirsty nights in the French Quarter, including on the Saturday before the game. The kickoff time on Sunday was 2 p.m., and the recommendation for media was to get on a bus to the stadium many hours earlier.
Pat Thompson had been my roommate as the St. Paul newspapers tried to save a few bucks in covering the event. Pat returned to the room one night and apparently found me in a deep slumber after several hours of imbibing.
Mr. Thompson taped my thunderous snoring and would replay this on request in pressboxes for several years to come.
There was a more embarrassing moment as we arrived at the stadium at midmorning Sunday. These were the double-knit days and I noticed a dastardly thread on the sportscoat that I was wearing.
I started asking other media members on the uncrowded bus if they had a fingernail clipper, which would be used to snip the thread. I wasn't at my sharpest, still shaking off the effects of an evening that had ended around 4 a.m., and finally asked Bruce Bennett if he had a fingernail clipper.
As a sportswriter, Bruce was my first boss at the Duluth News Tribune. I admired Bruce greatly, but he wasn't the best fellow to ask this question for this reason: Bruce was born with arms that ended at his elbows, and had overcome this obstacle with amazing determination and adaptation.
But, "No," my former boss Bruce said firmly, he did not have a fingernail clipper.
With the legends
I was 29 and working in obscurity at the St. Paul newspapers. Upon entrance into the rickety Tulane Stadium press box, I looked at the seating chart and found my name listed in the third row, between Red Smith of the New York Times and Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times.
Smith was then and will remain for eternity the smoothest wordsmith in the history of American sportswriting. And Murray will have the distinction as the greatest when it came to one-liners.
It was more than two hours to kickoff, so I shot the breeze with fellow Minnesota reporters for quite some time and then made my way toward the seat. There was Smith on the left and Murray on the right.
As I pulled out my assigned chair, I nodded to these magnificent scribes and said, "Here we are, gentlemen, three of the greatest sportswriters of all-time."
Red Smith laughed. Jim Murray did not.
San Diego was a first-time host for the Super Bowl on Jan. 31, 1988. Washington put on an otherworldly offensive display in the second quarter, scoring 35 points and creating a 42-10 rout of Denver.
Doug Williams was the star and somewhat historic as the first black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. There were hundreds of us standing outside a gate after the game, waiting to get inside for interviews.
It was all the sportswriters, TV reporters and camera people for themselves when the gate opened. There was elbowing and shouldering and, suddenly, even a stout fellow as myself was pushed toward a side wall.
And the gentleman I almost was pushed into was Eddie Robinson, the legendary coach for whom Williams had played at Grambling. I had interviewed Eddie previously, so I said, "Hey, coach, how about that Doug Williams?"
As my peers continued to grapple toward the interview area, I was getting my column through a casual 10-minute conversation with a proud Eddie Robinson.
Bottom line: It is better to be lucky than good as a sportswriter, particularly when covering the madness of a Super Bowl.