Golden Football Magazine
June 2, 2018


Andy Reid on college rivalries: "GO TEAM! BEAT RIVAL! Rival's fans are rude and ill-informed, and their coach is morally ambiguous. And don't even get me started on the relatively poor physical appearance of Rival's female students. Or our team's historical dominance of Rival. Yeesh.”

Tiger Den

Origin of "The Rag"

After the big brawl at the end of the 1939 LSU-Tulane game, the student leaders of the two schools decided something must be done.

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Saints Saga

The Saints' 1971 game with the Raiders went down to the last seconds.

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Seminole Sidelines

1964: First AP Ranking - II

The Noles bounced back from their first loss to win two and tie one.

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Super Bowl IX

The 1974 Steelers made the first league championship game in their history thanks to their Steel Curtain defense.

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Profile: Bill Walsh - XI

The 49ers finally returned to the Super Bowl in 1989, after which Walsh had a surprise announcement.

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How Well Do You Know the Rules?
Intentional grounding in last minute of play
Coaches with most Super Bowl losses
The Tao of Z
Dr. Z: The Lost Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer,
Paul Zimmerman; edited by Peter King (2017)
The first pro football locker room I ever saw was in 1960, the Eagles-Packers NFL Championship in Franklin Field, Philadelphia. I had been with the New York World-Telegram & Sun for about six months. I had been covering high school sports and I'd worked on the night desk in the summer, before the schools started, with the Little League World Series as my only bylined piece during that period. But they wanted to see how I would handle myself in the big arena, so they sent me down to do loser's dressing room quotes for our regular pro football writer, Joe King. It was a disaster.
The problem was that I was spending my Saturday nights playing guard for the Paterson (N.J.) Pioneers of the Eastern Football Conference, which billed itself as either Minor League Football or the NFL's farm system. Take your pick, but in reality it was one of the many outposts of semipro football. The Packers had lost to the Eagles, but I couldn't get over the way the Green Bay middle three of Jim Ringo, Fuzzy Thurston and Jerry Kramer had crushed the center of the Eagles' defense, including the great Chuck Bednarik. The first guy I saw in the Packer locker was Thurston.
"Hey, great job against Eddie Khayat," I blurted out. His eyes narrowed. He had just lost the biggest game of his life. Was this some kind of con job? "Thanks," he said. I'd been knocked out by the smoothness with which they called their in-line audibles among themselves, their change-ups. I complimented him on it. By now Kramer had joined our little group.
"You're a writer?" he said.
I brushed it off. I told him that we were having trouble calling our audibles on the Paterson Pioneers. I asked them how they called them.
"Hey, Jim!" he called over to Ringo in the next locker. "I want you to meet this guy." So for 10 minutes or so, they laid it out for me, who made the call in each situation, how they handled the dummy calls … and the Eagle tackles, Khayat and Jess Richardson, which they most definitely had done. The Packers ran for 223 that day. It was a nice friendly little group, and I was thinking, Wow, it sure is great covering an NFL locker room.
Then I noticed that the room was emptying. My page of quotes for Joe King was blank. Oh oh. I excused myself. I looked for Bart Starr. He was gone. They were helping Paul Hornung into his sportcoat; he had suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder.
"How's the shoulder?" I asked him. "It hurts," he said. And he was gone. I searched for Vince Lombardi. He was on his way out the door, wrapping a muffler around his neck, for the cold.
"Uh, coach," I said.
"I said everything I had to say to all the writers," he said. "We needed more time, OK?" And he was gone. Everybody was gone except for a few stragglers, some equipment men loading stuff into bags. I made my way up to the press box, which was on an odd angle. It looked as if a strong wind might blow it, plop, right onto midfield of the venerable stadium. It matched my own feeling of impending doom.
Put a little pencil mustache on Humphrey Bogart, and I'd hire him to play Joe King in the movie version. Cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth, a bottle of Heineken's close by his left hand, grey fedora pushed back on his head, with his press ticket in the band, Joe was everyone's idea of what an old-time sportswriter should look like. I stood behind him and watched him type. "OK, waddya got?" he said. "What do you want?" "Gimme Lombardi." "He was on the way out. He said they needed more time." "And … AND?" "And that's what he said." "OK, gimme Hornung. How about the shoulder?" "He said it hurt." By now Joe had stopped typing. He was as fascinated by the horror of this as I was. "What did Starr say?" he said so softly that I could barely hear it. "Nope, I missed Starr," I mumbled. Joe took his hat off and laid it on the desk. He turned in his seat and stared at me. "Son, what DID you get?" "Well, I talked to Kramer and Thurston and Ringo about how they called their audibles, and …" He waved me away, as one would dispel a bitter memory. "Out, son. OUT! GET OUT! "JackNat … catch me up on Lombardi … can you give me a little Starr … Just a graf or two … I SAID OUT OF HERE, KID! OUT!" It took me two years before I saw the inside of a professional locker room again. ...

L-R: Paul Zimmerman, Fuzzy Thurston, Jim Ringo
One of the first games the New York Post sent me out to cover, all by myself, was Green Bay at Chicago in 1966. I set up my audience with Lombardi well in advance for a Tuesday actually. That's how nervous I was. I took a cab from the airport and got there at lunchtime, an hour and a half before my appointment with the coach. ... He was cordial. He asked me where I grew up and where I had played. I told him, adding that in high school we had scrimmaged against the team he was coaching, St. Cecilia's in Englewood, N.J., and that I had very fond memories of his power sweep. He threw back his head and laughed. Then he called in his line coach, Phil Bengtson, who'd had the same position at Stanford when I was there, just to check me out. Bengtson, God bless him, if it would have been England, he'd have been knighted. I'm sure he didn't remember a thing about me, but just to be a mensch, he gave it the, "Hey, nice to see ya … how ya been … I see that you've picked up a little weight," and so forth. Whew. I had passed muster. So we chatted for a while, and then Lombardi got real serious and said, "You're a young writer, you're from New York, I'm going to give you a good story for your paper." Thump, went my heart, thump thump. "This is the game where I find out about my million dollar rookies, Grabowski and Anderson. All that money we paid them (combined contract a cool million, record numbers in those days) … I've got to know whether they can play." And on and on in that vein, until I am so feverish to call my paper and tell them to hold the back page because I've got a scoop from Lombardi, that I can hardly bear it. And I gave them the message, and they held the back page and next day's streamer, in red, blared, LOMBARDI TO UNVEIL MILLION DOLLAR ROOKIES.
P.S: Neither one played a down.

L-R: Vince Lombardi, Jim Grabowski, Donny Anderson
And as I sat there in the press box, watching the backs of those two players, their numbers boring holes in my brain, Jim Grabowski, fullback, No. 33, Donny Anderson, halfback, No. 44, watching their asses flattening on the bench as I prayed, implored whatever football Gods that lived high above Chicago's Wrigley Field to please, please, just send them in for a series or two. Nope, zero and zero. Finally, I mentioned it to one of the Packer beat guys, Bud Lea of the Milwaukee Sentinel. He started laughing.
"Welcome to the club," he said. "Easy," he said. "He knows that Halas gets everything clipped from the out of town papers. So he might as well plant something, just to give him another thing to worry about."...
Obviously, it would be a defensive story for me. In the Green Bay locker room, Lombardi was sitting on a little counter in front of the cage where they handed out equipment, in the center of a cluster of writers in overcoats and hats. Steam was rising. They were interviewing the coach, but it looked like they were cooking him. I waited my turn and then asked, "What was your theory in defending Sayers?"
"Force him back into the flow of traffic,’" Lombardi said, "cut off his escape. It's a theory as old as football itself."
Fine. I had my Lombardi quote. It was time to talk to the players. The Packers locker was next to the equipment alcove, through an open door. Dave Robinson, the strongside linebacker who had had a good day, was about 10 feet in. I introduced myself and asked him, "What was your theory in defending Sayers?"
"Wait a minute! Wait a minute!" Lombardi shouted from the next room. Both rooms fell silent. I looked through the door, and he had popped up from the center of his steam table and was pointing a finger in my direction. Everyone was staring at me.
"The same thing," he said. "You asked me the same thing, in exactly the same words. What's the matter, didn't you believe me?"
A few of the players were hiding their faces, so the coach wouldn’t see them chuckling. Robinson had a big smile on his face. He waved me to follow him around the corner. As I went, I heard Lombardi telling the writers, "The exact same thing … see that guy there … first he asks me about Sayers, then he goes in and asks them the same thing…"



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