Friday at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN will air “Keepers of the Streak.” The film (link to trailer) is directed by sports photographer Neil Leifer and chronicles the decades-long journey of veteran shooters John Biever, Walter Iooss, Mickey Palmer and Tony Tomsic. It features a great ending about Sports Illustrated’s cover for last year’s Super Bowl.
Also, you get the inside story of how Iooss landed the famous Joe Namath picture from Super Bowl III.
Meanwhile, Richard Deitsch at SI.com wrote a terrific piece on three writers who have covered every Super Bowl: Jerry Green, Jerry Izenberg, and Dave Klein.
How was back then:
Their memories of the first game — Green Bay’s 35-10 romp over Kansas City — remain sharp. Izenberg recalled how he and his close friend Jack Murphy, the famous sports writer out of San Diego, drove to Santa Barbara to interview Green Bay players at their hotel. At the front of the hotel stood a man on guard. His name was Vince Lombardi.
“I knew Lombardi was steaming about being in Santa Barbara,” Izenberg says. “We pulled up to the place, the ocean on the right side, and Lombardi is standing in front of the hotel. He says to us, ‘What are you guys doing here?’ I said, ‘Well, we came to talk to your football team.’ He said, ‘We should not even be here.’ I always knew how to push his buttons so I said, ‘This is a beautiful place, isn’t it?’ He said, ‘What you mean this is a beautiful place? This is hell. Look how pretty it is.’ Then he realizes that there are 10 players listening and looking down. He says to them. ‘And none of you guys better be in the pool today either.’ And then walks away.”
Green said he traveled to Los Angeles mid-week for the first game because the Lions were changing coaches from Harry Gilmer for Jerry Schmidt. He remembers going into the hotel room of Chiefs defensive back Fred Williamson with a small group for a 30-minute interview. “We had that kind of access,” Green said.
And how it is now:
Klein said he also thought things started changing in the late 1970s.
“It’s a circus now,” he says. “I try not to attend Media Day. It’s like being in the middle of a teaming crowd in New Delhi. But the NFL loves it because it attracts people and fans.”
Izenberg said one of the moments where he felt the Super Bowl had crossed the Rubicon was when MTV VJ Julie Brown was credentialed for Super Bowl Media Day in 1992. Wearing a tuxedo, she sat on lap of Redskins defensive lineman Dexter Manley for an interview.
“She comes bouncing in, jumps into his lap, strokes his thigh and says, ‘Can I talk to you, Dexter?'” Izenberg says. “I said, ‘Well, f— this.’ And I walked away and I wrote about it. I’ve written about it off and on to show you how the league has made a circus with Media Day.”