(Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
PHOENIX, Ariz. – People want to know if the Super Bowl ever witnessed a distraction, embarrassment or potential scandal like “DeflateGate” – you know, a story that gets cranked up during the week and just won’t go away –and the answer, in a word, is …
I know “DeflateGate” seems like a big deal because it’s our big deal. It’s happening now in an era where the latest is the greatest. But it’s not the first time we’ve had players and coaches squirm, and I’m not talking about the Barrett Robbins, Eugene Robinson or Stanley Wilson episodes that had shelf lives of a day or two. Nope, I’m talking about misadventures that started days before the Super Bowl and kept us enthralled right up until game time.
So let’s get started. The roll call, please:
LEN DAWSON and GAMBLING
When: Super Bowl IV
What: Shortly after the Tuesday lunch prior to Super Bowl IV, Kansas City;s Len Dawson was headed to a quarterbacks meeting when he was pulled aside by coach Hank Stram. Stram told him that NBC News that evening was going to link his name (along with Joe Namath, Bill Munson of Detroit, Karl Sweetan of the L.A. Rams and Pete Lammons of the Jets) to a federal investigation into sports gambling and that Dawson and others would be summoned to testify in Detroit.
Dawson’s alleged involvement had to do with the arrest of a Donald (Dice) Dawson (no relation), who had $400,000 in gambling notes and Dawson’s phone number on him when he was picked up. Apparently, he was known to Len Dawson for 10 years and contacted the Kansas City quarterback that year after Dawson suffered a knee injury and after his father died.
The commissioner got involved, and so did the Chiefs – with owner Lamar Hunt, Stram and public relations director Jim Schaaf agreeing that a letter explaining Dawson’s position should be drawn up. Dawson complied and read it to the media … at 11 that evening. The story soon went away, and, soon, so did Dawson’s next opponent, Minnesota.
Quote to remember: “It was, beyond a doubt, the toughest week of my life.” – Len Dawson.
JIM McMAHON and GEARGATE
When: Super Bowl XX
What: Leave it to “The Punky QB” to take on NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and the league office. His crime? He violated the Bears’ dress code by wearing a headband during the playoffs with “Adidas” hand-written on it, provoking the NFL to respond with a fine. That might have been the end of it, except McMahon was never one to go quietly into the night. So he showed up at the Super Bowl with another headband, this one with “Rozelle” hand-written on it, challenging the commissioner to take action again.
But that wasn’t all. After suffering a strained glute in the conference championship game, he flew in an acupuncturist to New Orleans – prompting him to … surprise, surprise … show up with a headband that read “Acupuncture.” Then he mooned a helicopter at practice and was alleged to have called the women of New Orleans “sluts.” In short, Jim McMahon WAS the eye of the hurricane.
The mooning was real, but the defamation of New Orleans’ women was not. Nevertheless, McMahon accomplished what he set out to do — namely, take the pressure off his teammates by becoming the story. And he was. Day after day after day after …
Quote to remember: “I was pleased with the game, but all the rest of it was a pain.” – Jim McMahon
RAY LEWIS and ANTLERGATE
When: Super Bowl XLVII
What: OK, so this was a blip on the radar screen, but it held our attention for days. In his last year of play, Lewis returned to the Ravens just in time for the playoffs, and Baltimore was hot, hot, hot — winning three postseason games to set up a championship game with San Francisco. That’s when Mitch Ross, co-owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, happened — telling Sports Illustrated that Lewis used deer antler spray – and, no, that is not a misprint – to recover from an Oct. 14 injury when he tore his triceps.
So what? Well, so the spray contained IGF-1, a substance banned by the NFL. Lewis denied it, Ross couldn’t prove it and the story dissolved.
Quote to remember: “It’s unfortunate I’m getting death threats from Ravens’ fans. I got duped by Sports Illustrated. They ‘catfished’ me. They dated me for two years, and then made me look like a goofball.” – Mitch Ross.
DARRYL TALLEY and FIGHTGATE
When: Super Bowl XXVII
What: The incident took place a week before the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t revealed until mid-week when a report surfaced that Talley, a starting outside linebacker for the Bills, was involved in a scuffle with Magic Johnson’s bodyguard at a Los Angeles nightclub. Talley denied the report, but it was confirmed by two of his teammates and Johnson’s agent, Lon Rosen.
But there’s where the stories diverge. According to Talley’s teammates he was involved in pushing and shoving after an argument with Johnson’s bodyguard, identified only as Anthony, and the two had to be separated. According to Rosen, Johnson’s bodyguard flipped Talley to the floor after a confrontation. Talley, who was one of several Bills and Cowboys at the nightclub, denied anything happened, but it provoked a familiar refrain from linebacker Cornelius Bennett after he tired of the questions.
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he said.
Quote to remember: “Now I know how the people in the tabloids feel.” – Darryl Talley