The Good Ol’ Days: Super Bowl X
A week before Super Bowl X in January 1976, I was working in radio in Ft. Lauderdale. Every Sunday I visited with my parents via telephone and my dad asked, “Aren’t you going to invite me to go with you to the Super Bowl?” I was surprised by this question. Dad explained that he had taken me to the 1960 Rose Bowl and to several Tangerine and Citrus Bowls in Orlando and he was hoping that I would invite him to go to Super Bowl X at the Orange Bowl in Miami the following Sunday.
So, I agreed and on Monday I told my program director that my dad wanted me to take him to the Super Bowl and that I heard it was a sellout and did he know where I could get a couple of tickets. To my relief, he knew someone in Dallas (Super Bowl X was between Dallas and Pittsburgh) and arranged to have them send me two tickets (face value $25) for $50 each, a total of $100, which was nearly half a week’s salary.
Super Bowl X featured the first matchup of Super Bowl winners, with the Steelers and the Cowboys each having won one. Pittsburgh was going for two in a row, having dispatched Minnesota 16-6 in New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium in Super Bowl IX the previous year, giving the Vikes their third super loss. The Purple Gang would go on to lose a then-record fourth big game the following year, 32-14 to the Raiders in the Rose Bowl at Pasadena. Only the Denver Broncos have lost more (5). Ahem, maybe 6.
The Orange Bowl was located near downtown Miami and was the home of the Dolphins and the U. of Miami Hurricanes. Parking was atrocious, and the parking lot filled up quickly, prompting the overflow to have to negotiate with nearby homeowners to park in their driveways and on their lawns at between $5 and $15 a pop ($21-$60 today). What with six U of Miami home games, the Orange Bowl game and other events during the year, these private parkers did a nice business, with as many as twenty vehicles jammed together.
Dad arrived at Miami International just hours before kickoff and we drove straight to the game. Our seats were in the corner of one of the end zones (where the dolphin used to flip in a big pool in the shadow of the goalposts). I’m not saying we were in the “nosebleed” section, but there were packs of roving EMTs available to minister to those of us who had lost consciousness from the thin air.
From what I hear, it was a great game, won by Pittsburgh 21-17. Wide receiver Lynn Swann made several amazingly athletic catches and was named the game’s MVP. One of the future hall-of-famer’s four catches from future hall-of-famer Terry Bradshaw went for 64 yards and a score and Swann finished with a then-record 161 reception yards.
The halftime show was provided by “Up with People” and the only possibility of a so-called “wardrobe malfunction” was if they got a stain on their immaculate costumes.
Producers of the thriller Black Sunday were filming generic crowd scenes to be included in its release in 1977. The film was inspired by the 1972 Munich Olympics Black September massacre and dealt with terrorists trying to take over the Goodyear Blimp during a Super Bowl. Leading man Robert Shaw played an Israeli Mossad major who foils the plot by evil-doing conspirators including blimp pilot Bruce Dern.
In early 1976, such a plot was too unbelievable to be taken seriously, but immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the FAA issued a lengthy list of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) that included no longer being allowed to fly directly over events where large numbers of people are present. So, today, the obligatory shot from a blimp high above the stadium is now at an angle, instead of straight down. I always know when there is going to be a big event in Orlando by the presence of one or two blimps, even for basketball games.
While stationed at London, Kentucky I once spoke to the Goodyear Blimp pilot by radio as it made its way slowly and at low altitude toward its home near Goodyear headquarters in Akron.
When in Orlando, the blimps moor at a corner of Executive Airport near downtown, where I also worked. A fellow controller who was certified to fly gliders was invited to be a guest on the Goodyear Blimp that was in town for a bowl game. They even let him fly it and he said one had to do a lot of working with one’s feet on rudders and your hands and arms on other controls. He told me that you can’t be certified to fly a blimp unless you have flown a blimp, sort of a Catch 22.
A total of 10 players with North Dakota connections have played in one or more Super Bowls: N.D. natives Phil Hansen (Ellendale/NDSU), Mark Slater, (Crosby/U of Minn.), and UND products Chris Kuper, Dave Osborn (Cando), Errol Mann, Jim LeClair and Monte Smith, along with NDSU’s Stacy Robinson, Tyrone Braxton and Craig Dahl.
Bill is a Rugby native, graduating from RHS in 1966. His family operated the Gronvold Motor Company until 1968. He is a retired FAA air traffic controller and although he resides in Orlando, Florida, his heart will always be with the Heart of America
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