1. Archive

Sound advice became a nice touch

To help celebrate Tampa Bay's Super Bowl XXV season, we decided to allow a former Super Bowl participant to share his memories of the big game with our readers each Sunday. This week: Hank Stram. Stram, now a CBS broadcaster, coached the Kansas City Chiefs through their first 15 seasons (1960-74), including the first Super Bowl, a 35-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and Super Bowl IV, a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. For the second game, against the Vikings, we put a patch on the arm of the jerseys of all the players. It was the seal of the American Football League. They didn't know about it until they walked into the locker room. This was the American Football League's last game before the merger with the NFL. A lot of the guys got all sentimental, real emotional. You'd think we'd have given them a $10,000 bonus the way they reacted to that seal. I knew when they walked out onto the field that they knew they were going to win that game.

The first game, out in L.A., we had two weeks to prepare. The next time, in New Orleans, we only had one week. I think that was better for us. We didn't have nearly as much of a chance to get caught up in all the hoopla, and then there was the business of the scandalous situation with Lenny Dawson. Had we had to go through all that for two weeks, it might have had some bearing on our team. But we were on the West Coast, we beat the Raiders, then had to go back to Kansas City, unload, load up again, head to New Orleans on I think it was a Monday, prepare for the game, squelch all the Dawson (gambling) rumors and all of a sudden we had to play and then the game was over and we'd won. It was like hit-and-run.

The night before, Ed Sabol, he was the head of NFL Films then and an old friend, called me at the hotel around 7 o'clock. The conversation went something like:

"I got to see you."

"I got a lot of people here. What do you want?"

"I got to talk to you about something."

"Well, let's talk."

"No, I got to see you personally."

"Ed, I got no time for you." I could say that to him. "Too many things to do. Too many people."

"I'll be over right away." He hung up. Five minutes later he's there.

"What's so important?"

"I want to wire you for sound for the Super Bowl."

"You got to be crazy."

He told me, "Football's been good to you. You've gotten a lot out of it. You've got to give something back." The whole sales pitch. The more he talked, the more I thought he was right. Also, I knew I could trust him. He'd wired me for sound a couple of times for spots during the season.

I told him, okay, as long as nobody, nobody, knows about it. I don't want it to be a circus. And I get the right of first refusal. He said fine. What's amazing is, he wired me about two hours before the game and by the time the game started I'd forgotten all about it. Ed called me a few weeks after the game, told me it was great. I looked at the film and didn't change a thing.

Most people think the big play of that game was Otis Taylor's 46-yard touchdown catch, but that only sealed it. I think the big play was Jan Stenerud's three field goals, especially the first one. When we sent Jan out to kick that first one, the 48-yarder, you could hear the Vikings laughing. When he kicked it, they were all stunned. Shocked. That shut them up.

Before that first game, against Green Bay, LIFE magazine called us and asked if they could follow us around, to take pictures and take notes of the practice sessions before the AFL title game at Buffalo and, if we won that, the Super Bowl. It wasn't called that back then; it was the NFL-AFL World Championship. LIFE said if we won the whole thing they'd give us a lot of national attention. If we didn't win, they said they'd give every player and coach and staff member a LIFE magazine cover with their picture on it.

Well, people had been calling us a Mickey Mouse league. That gave me an idea. The Saturday before the game I told Bobby Yarborough, our equipment manager, to get us Mouseketeer hats, the ones with the ears, and a copy of the Mouseketeer song.

On the day of the game, everyone on the staff _ coaches, trainers, equipment guys, doctors _ was wearing a mouse hat in the locker room when the players showed up. And when it came time for us to go out to the field, we played the record. Some of the guys laughed. Other guys got ticked off. I was just trying to loosen everyone up, to give us some motivation.

So we lost. At least we all got the magazine covers.

I remember my boys, Hank, Dale and Stu _ I think the oldest was about 10 then _ they were down on the sideline and after the game, after all the interviews and everything, I started looking for them. The locker rooms in the L.A. Coliseum had these little stalls and it was real easy to lose them. Nobody knew where they were, so I went outside the locker. The rooms are next to each other and all of a sudden here they come out of the Green Bay locker room with a football, a helmet, a jersey, pennants.

I said, "Where the hell have you guys been?" and they said, "We've been in there with the Packers. Mr. Lombardi told us to tell you your team played a good game." And I said, "My team? I thought it was our team before the game. Now it's my team?" They had all these autographs and programs and stuff and they're telling me, "Boy, we got to talk to Mr. Starr and Mr. Hornung and Mr. McGee and Mr. Nitschke and . . ."