He’s Seen Them All

February 7th, 2010
Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger is one of only three men living who have covered every Super Bowl.

Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger is one of only three men living who have covered every Super Bowl. He shared some fantastic memories with JoeBucsFan.com.

Joe didn’t know it, didn’t realize it until he began transcribing his notes Saturday night (yeah, some life Joe lives: he spends a Saturday night working on his blog while a few hours away, where Joe was a few days ago, the place is alive with the beautiful people), but Joe was in the company of legends Tuesday morning.

As Joe just boarded a shuttle bus, getting ready to be whisked away from the media center at the Broward County Convention Center to Super Bowl media day, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King also boarded the bus and sat next to Joe. As King climbed in, King yelped, “Jerry Green!” at the longtime Detroit Free Press columnist.

Of course, Joe knows who Green is. But Joe didn’t know Green was a legend.

At media day, Joe ran into the great — and Joe means great — Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger. Joe was well aware that Izenberg is one of only a handful of reporters that has covered every Super Bowl. Joe thought that possibly Ed Pope of the Miami Herald was another. Joe’s suspicion was correct when Joe began doing research for this post last night.

There are only three men alive that have covered each and every Super Bowl: Izenberg, Pope and Green.

Had Joe known about Green’s Super Bowl history, Joe would have interviewed him. But Joe did know about Izenberg. The Korean War veteran gave Joe a few minutes for some eye-opening details about the Super Bowl and NFL history.

Izenberg couldn’t have been a kinder man and Joe is just chagrin he didn’t have the time to speak with Izenberg longer.

Izenberg is a walking NFL historian and Joe just loves hearing stories about football’s past. Joe hopes you enjoy this post before kickoff of today’s Super Bowl later this evening.

Joe apologizes if this isn’t Bucs-related but Joe thinks you may like this.

JoeBucsFan.com: In David Maraniss’ book, “When Pride Still Mattered,” about Vince Lombardi, it seemed you and Lombardi had a very testy relationship, that you guys often clashed, that you wouldn’t put up with his crap.

Jerry Izenberg: Oh, no, no! We were friends. That’s why I wouldn’t [put up with Lombardi’s crap]. It was a game. I will tell you a funny Lombardi story: It was in Super Bowl II in Miami. Television was just beginning to feel its oats and everything. And a flack ran up to him and said, “Mr. Lombardi, we have Miss Orange Bowl here. Would you please put your starting line on the trampoline with her?” Lombardi said, “You want a trampoline? I’ll show you what a trampoline will do. If you don’t get out of here in five seconds I’m going to put you on the trampoline.” That was Lombardi.

We were great friends. We used to have arguments and they would continue all week long. It would start after a game and then later that night he would call me at home and he wouldn’t say “hello” or anything, he would start with, “And another thing… “

One time I wrote a book. He called me up and said, “Jerry, that is a great book.” I said, “It’s a good book Vince, it’s not a great book.” He would then say, “It’s a great book, don’t tell me — that part about Brooklyn and the Giants, that is great. And I know because I was there.” I’d tell him, “Look, it’s not great, I know because I wrote the fucking thing.” And it would go on and on and on.

Here he was defending my book and I was attacking it.

He was a great man and there were so many sides of him that people don’t know. There was a guy — I’m not going to name him — there was a guy who — when Lombardi was [head coach] in Washington — was gay. They had drafted him and he was there. When it came down to the last cut, one of the coaches said, “Well, this is easy. We get rid of the gay guy.” But he didn’t say “gay,” you know? And Lombardi said, “No, we’re not going to do that. All three of these guys are about equal. The word is out. The other two guys will get jobs if we waive them, this guy won’t. So he’s staying with us.” And he stayed with Lombardi for a couple of years.

Joe: Does anything jump out at you covering all of these Super Bowls? Is there a memory or a play or anything that comes to mind?

Izenberg: Well, if you want to take the very best instant of the Super Bowl, it was not [Joe] Namath. The very best instant of the Super Bowl was the last play of the game, Titans-Rams. Kevin Dyson, they throw him a pass and Mike Jones comes up to meet him and they hit on the one, he falls forward they win; he falls down they lose.

It seemed like it took an hour, these guys straining either way. Of course he didn’t get in and that was the game. The determination on both sides, that was.. really, wow.

Joe: Funny that you mention Namath. If you look at the numbers, he had a very pedestrian game in Super Bowl III despite being named the MVP.

Izenberg: Well, that was his game. I mean, Namath could throw six touchdowns passes and 12 interceptions. That was Namath. That game, because of the nature of the other team [Colts], they had to play that type of game [ball control] to win, the way they won it. The real star of that game was Matt Snell or Dave Herman. He handled Bubba Smith. Herman was converted from guard to tackle and no one thought he could [guard Smith] but he did. He did it.

5 Responses to “He’s Seen Them All”

  1. JK Says:

    Great story Joe. How long did it take for you to float back down to earth off of cloud 9.

  2. Eric S Says:

    Great stuff Joe. Always enjoy reading about the history of the NFL.

  3. Joe Says:

    Thanks Eric S. Joe appreciates it.

  4. Kirk Says:

    In an interview last year Steve Sabol said that there were 8 people (including him) that had been to every Superbowl. It is good to find 3 more that have done it. I am sure there are people that have bought tickets to every game as well. But really cool article. Thanks.

  5. Joe Says:


    To Joe’s knowledge, Sabol — great as he is — has never written for a newspaper.

    Oh, and you are welcome. Thanks for the compliment.