The Super Bowl Report: Terry Bradshaw talks about the Steelers-Rams Super Bowl
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Sam Farmer on a past Super Bowl: Terry Bradshaw already had helped Pittsburgh win three rings — three more than the Los Angeles Rams had — and yet it was the Steelers quarterback who felt like a wide-eyed rookie as he stood on the Rose Bowl field before Super Bowl XIV.
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Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood, playing on a broken left fibula, jogged over to him at midfield during pregame warmups, happy as a puppy.
“Hey, man, isn’t this great?” Youngblood said. “Look at this crowd.”
“Yeah, yeah, it’s great, Jack,” said Bradshaw, recalling the pleasant exchange 42 years later. The two hugged and returned to their teams.
“I was thinking, ‘[Shoot], he doesn’t have a care in the world,’” Bradshaw said. “That was really unnerving.”
Conversely, Bradshaw was a mess. He hadn’t slept well all week, not just because he was preparing for the Super Bowl, but also because the Rams had three former Steelers assistants on their coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Bud Carson.
“I never could complete a pass against Bud’s defense in practice, let alone the Super Bowl,” Bradshaw said.
So here was one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history, and he couldn’t even unclench to enjoy the week leading up to the game in Southern California, or a postcard day in Pasadena. Instead he had a tension headache that would swell to a migraine by game’s end.
But that was nothing new for Bradshaw, now a Fox Sports NFL analyst.
“During the season, my mind was always on the opponent,” he said. “I never could free myself from that. Get up early and be at the stadium. Stay all day, get home at 8:30 or 9, eat a can of soup with some crackers, go to bed. Then, get up at 5:30 in the morning and take off again.
“I knew the game plan inside and out. I didn’t want to stumble. What was that old song? ‘Don’t walk on the rocks that I stumbled on?’ I didn’t want to make other peoples’ mistakes.”
Hall of Fame Rams tackle Jackie Slater caught an up-close glimpse of how stressed Bradshaw was during the game.
“I remember throwing a block, rolling over and finishing up the fall, and I ended up on their sideline,” Slater said. “I looked up and saw Terry Bradshaw’s face. All I could see was a man who thought he’d been beaten.
“I’ve told him, ‘I’m one of the few people that can remember what you looked like when you were standing there silent, thinking you were getting ready to lose the Super Bowl.’”
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SUPER BOWL POLLS
Two Super Bowl polls for you to vote in: Which team will win, and who will be named the game’s MVP? Click here to vote. Results will be announced on Super Bowl Sunday.
INNER CITY YOUTH ORCHESTRA
From Jessica Gelt: Violinist Kevon Fortune will spend his 17th birthday playing music for football legends. Fortune is a member of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, which was been selected to perform before — and during — the 11th “NFL Honors” show. The event will be broadcast live Thursday night on ABC as part of the celebrations leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl game at SoFi Stadium.
“I was like, ‘No way. Am I gonna get to see football players? And they’re picking me?’” Fortune says of the moment when he heard he was going to be one of 54 orchestra members to play during the awards show. The event will honor the NFL’s MVP, as well as coach of the year, comeback player of the year and offensive and defensive players of the year, among others. The NFL will be donating $60,000 to the nonprofit youth group, which is one of the nation’s largest primarily African American orchestras.
Charles Dickerson, the orchestra’s founder and conductor, says it’s the first time the awards ceremony will feature an orchestra for its music program. The group will play a pre-show concert featuring the “Star Wars” main theme and “The Star Spangled Banner,” among other tunes. During the event, the orchestra will also play music by longtime NFL composer David Robidoux.
“Everybody is excited,” says Dickerson. “I wish I could bring all of the young people who are part of our orchestra to participate.”
LIONS FANS ROOT FOR STAFFORD
Dylan Hernández on the Super Bowl: The Detroiter Bar stands on a street corner in Detroit’s Bricktown neighborhood, within walking distance of Ford Field.
The tavern is known as a Lions’ bar, which these days also makes it a Matthew Stafford bar. The establishment’s regular patrons still consider the former franchise player of their favorite team as one of their own, many of them watching games there on Sundays in their replica No. 9 Lions jerseys.
“You would be surprised by how many Rams jerseys there are too,” bar manager Tyler Tucco said in a phone interview this week.
Usually, after a star athlete asks to be traded, and is, fans of his old team turn on him. Their disdain intensifies if he finds success in his new home.
That’s not the case in Detroit, where people are understanding of why Stafford wanted out of the Lions. They don’t begrudge him for leading the Rams to Super Bowl LVI.
“Let’s be honest,” said Waleed Mansoob, a 43-year-old lifelong Lions fan. “The Detroit Lions organization is the worst organization in all of sports. You can bring up cricket, table tennis, whatever. They’re the worst. What can you possibly do with that team?”
SUPER BOWL STRATEGY, PART I
Jeff Miller on strategy (First of a four-part series looking at strategy for Super Bowl LVI. Part 1: How will the Cincinnati Bengals deal with Aaron Donald and the Rams’ pass rush?)
Isaiah Prince will appear in his 23rd career NFL game — including the playoffs — on Sunday in Super Bowl LVI.
None of the first 22 included Aaron Donald.
“He plays with that aggression, that passion,” Cincinnati’s 24-year-old right tackle said. “His talent. His technique. His hands. He’s always playing hard. It’s what everybody speaks about.”
At this stage, it is pretty safe to assume that imagining what it’s like to play against Donald, the Rams’ all-universe defensive tackle, is nothing like actually playing against him.
That inexperience alone could be concerning enough for the Bengals. Now add in the fact that their offensive line was the leakiest in the NFL during the season, surrendering a league-high 51 sacks.
Donald led the Rams with 12½ sacks, followed by edge rusher Leonard Floyd, who had 9½. As a team, the Rams ranked third this season with 50 sacks.
Asked to assess Donald, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said, “There really are no words to describe how good he is.”
With the forecast calling for temperatures in the 80s at SoFi Stadium, Cincinnati’s offense could be feeling two versions of heat.
So, what’s the Bengals’ best answer in attempting to chill things out just a bit? Well, what’s the Bengals’ best answer to almost everything these days? Joe Burrow. Indeed, Joe Cool himself.
ROAD CLOSURES AROUND SoFi STADIUM
From Madalyn Amato: Beginning Friday, the streets of Inglewood surrounding SoFi Stadium will be shut down and routes altered in preparation for the Super Bowl.
Selected streets will close Thursday, then more will be shut down on Sunday through the early morning Monday. Here are the details.
—Yukon Avenue will be closed to the general public from Century Boulevard to Stadium Drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
—Stadium Drive will be closed to the general public from South Doty Avenue to the entrance of the Panhandle Lot from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
—Prairie Avenue will have fewer open lanes from Victory Street to Touchdown Drive from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
—Prairie Avenue’s northbound lanes will be closed from Century Boulevard to Arbor Vitae Street from 1 a.m. Sunday until Monday at 2 a.m. Also, its northbound lanes from W. 106th Street to Century Boulevard will be closed from 2 p.m. to Monday at 2 a.m.
—Century Boulevard will have lane closures in both directions from Yukon Avenue to Airport Boulevard from 7 a.m. until Monday at 2 a.m.
—98th Street will have its curb lane closed for about one block from Bellanca Avenue west from 7 a.m. to Monday at 2 a.m.
—Pincay Drive will be closed from Prairie Avenue to Kareem Court from 1 a.m. Sunday until Monday at 2 a.m. During the same period, the eastbound lane of Prairie Avenue will be open only to local traffic from Kareem Court to Crenshaw Boulevard.
—Kareem Court will be open only to rideshare vehicles from Manchester Avenue to Pincay Drive from 10 a.m. to Monday at 1 a.m.
—Manchester Boulevard’s eastbound lane from Prairie Avenue to Crenshaw Boulevard will be open only to local traffic from 4 p.m. Sunday to Monday at 2 a.m.
SUPER BOWL: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Super Bowl Sunday
at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood
Rams vs. Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m. PT, Rams favored by 4 1/2 points
TV: NBC and Telemundo.
Radio: Westwood One radio (AM 570 in Los Angeles), SiriusXM NFL Radio, NFL GamePass.
Streaming: NFL app (iOS, Android), Peacock app (iOS, Android), Telemundo app (iOS, Android), Yahoo Sports
Halftime show: Recording artists Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar are scheduled to perform in the Super Bowl halftime show. The NFL has yet to announce who will sing the national anthem before the game.
Coronavirus guidelines if you attend: Under Los Angeles County’s coronavirus health and safety guidelines, all fans in attendance must be vaccinated. Fans attending the game will be required to wear masks and will be given KN95 masks. For further coronavirus rules and guidelines, click here.
BEST PRO FOOTBALL TEAM TOURNAMENT
Just for fun, over the next two weeks we will be running a tournament to determine the best Super Bowl/NFL/AFL champion of all time. The teams have been seeded 1-64 (using a combination of regular season record, regular season point differential and playoff point differential) and put into four regions, just like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Using the Second And Ten computer game, we will run the games to determine the best team of them all. Since there are only 55 Super Bowl winning teams, we chose nine teams from before the Super Bowl era to compete, all champions of either the NFL or the AFL. They are: 1950 Cleveland Browns, 1951 Los Angeles Rams, 1953 Detroit Lions, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles, 1961 Houston Oilers, 1962 Green Bay Packers, 1963 San Diego Chargers, 1963 Chicago Bears and the 1964 Buffalo Bills.
We continue with the semifinals and finals of the Jim Brown region:
No. 1 1972 Miami Dolphins d. No. 4 1973 Miami Dolphins, 10-3
All the scoring was in the fourth quarter. Two Garo Yepremian field goals (one for the 1972 Dolphins, one for the 1973 Dolphins) and a nine-yard touchdown run by Jim Kiick with 39 seconds to go in the game. Larry Csonka ran for 72 yards for the 1972 Dolphins, 72 yards for the 1973 Dolphins.
No. 2 1962 Green Bay Packers d. No. 11 1993 Dallas Cowboys, 28-6
Jim Taylor rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown and Bart Starr had two touchdown passes and the Packers defense forced three Cowboys turnovers (two fumbles, one interception).
No. 2 1962 Green Bay Packers d. No. 1 1972 Miami Dolphins, 24-7
The 1972 Dolphins are undefeated no more, as Bart Starr threw two touchdown passes to Boyd Dowler and the Packer defense intercepted four passes.
The 1962 Green Bay Packers advance to the Final Four, where they await the winner of the John Madden Region.
Tomorrow: The semifinals and finals of the Walter Payton region. The teams:
No. 1 1985 Chicago Bears vs. No. 5 1963 Chicago Bears
No. 6 1953 Detroit Lions vs. No. 7 1994 San Francisco 49ers
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOTBALL PLAYER?
I asked you to send me the name of you favorite football player and why, and I was deluged with answers. Answers will be printed starting today. Keep sending them in by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a couple of sentences explaining why that player is your favorite. It’s your chance to be read by the tens of thousands of people who subscribe.
David McEnany: Johnny Unitas. Black high tops, had his own style and no sense of entitlement. Faced adversity all along the way and just quietly proved them all wrong. I still carry his football card in my wallet, his picture was often on my employee badge and he would not have missed Jimmy Orr in Super Bowl III.
Joel Gardner of Cherry Hill, N.J.: The greatest football player I ever saw was Billy Cannon, Heisman-trophy-winning running back, punt returner, kicker, and defensive back, who starred in the AFL for the Houston Oilers and Oakland Raiders. His 89-yard Halloween punt return against Ole Miss is so iconic, it’s still played on the jumbotron before LSU home games, and he led LSU to a national championship in 1958. The Frank Deford novel and subsequent film “Everybody’s All-American” were based on his life. But my favorite player is Bobby Stiles, the undersized UCLA defensive back who threw himself at Michigan State’s Big Bob Apisa, got knocked cold while doing so, but kept Apisa out of the end zone and allowed the Bruins to hold on to a 14-12 takedown of the top-ranked Spartans in the 1966 Rose Bowl.
Omar Tellow: I have two if that’s OK. LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe Montana. Growing up I loved watching Joe play, he was the epitome of what a great quarterback should be. Cool under pressure and he could always deliver in the game’s biggest moments. I thought he was the greatest of all time until Tom Brady came along. L.T. was also fun to watch, he held the season record for touchdowns scored back in 2006. I wish he could have made it to a Super Bowl.
Highlights from Super Bowl XXXIII (Broncos vs. Falcons). Watch and listen here.
Highlights from Super Bowl XXXIV (Rams vs. Titans). Watch and listen here.
Highlights from Super Bowl XXXV (Ravens vs. Giants). Watch and listen here.
Highlights from Super Bowl XXXVI (Patriots vs. Rams). Watch and listen here.
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