Sunday, February 7, 2010

Len Dawson Brings the Lombardi Trophy

I am a native Kansas Citian and a lifelong Chiefs fan.  So, I was very pleased when Len Dawson was picked a few weeks ago to bring the Lombardi Trophy onto the field. Len was sports director at KMBZ Radio in the late 1960's when I was doing the weather for them as part of a teenage weather club.  At the time KMBZ was the #1 rated radio station in KC. I run into Len from time to time when I visit KMBC TV (an AccuWeather client).  Whether I was a teenager or, er, "middle aged" he has always been a great gentlemen.

What makes this evening especially appropriate is that Len was the MVP of Super Bowl IV, which was played in New Orleans. The Chiefs were the underdogs just like the Saints.

The Associated Press ran a story about the moments that made the Super Bowl the special occasion it is.  In some ways, the Chiefs were in the most important Super Bowls, I and IV. Here is what the AP said about Super Bowl IV:

Seven moments that transformed the Super Bowl to exalted status

A televised spectacle of bold new proportion
NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who has been to every Super Bowl and maybe seen more NFL game film than anyone, picks Super Bowl IV as "when the Super Bowl became the Super Bowl."
First, Sabol points to the result: Kansas City squashing 13-point favorite Minnesota, 23-7. The Chiefs dispelled notions of the AFL being a finesse league by knocking tough Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp out of the game.
"In the public's mind, (the Jets' victory in Super Bowl III) was a fluke," Sabol said. "In the public's mind, there still wasn't parity. This game was an a-whipping."
Also, NFL Films' half-hour game-highlight film featured a microphone on Chiefs Coach Hank Stram yapping it up. So iconic was Stram's commentary - "Just keep matriculating that ball down the field!"; "It's like stealing, we ought to do more of it!" - that NFL fans around the country would shout lines back at Stram in public for the next 30 years.
New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt played the national anthem, and Carol Channing did the halftime show before a restaging of the Battle of New Orleans. The men playing the British soldiers seemed serious about wanting to change the result. Smoke from the musket fire lingered as the teams came out for the second half.
"There was so much more, event-wise," Sabol said. "It was the beginning of the excess we now associate with the Super Bowl."

Not to mention the miked Hank Stram's most famous call:

With Len Dawson presenting the Lombardi Trophy after tonight’s Super Bowl, the focus will once again be on the Chiefs championship 40 years ago.  The Kansas City Star’s Randy Covitz breaks down the most famous play in Chiefs history: 65 Toss Power Trap.
The Chiefs led 9-0 midway through in the third quarter on the strength of three Stenerud field goals and an overpowering defense when they faced third and-goal at the Minnesota 5.  Though a pass appeared in order, Stram sent wide receiver Gloster Richardson into the game with a running play.
“Gloster, tell (Dawson) 65 Toss Power Trap,” Stram said.  “It might pop right open.”
Dawson normally called his own plays and, like all his teammates, was unaware Stram was miked.  He was surprised at the coach’s selection.
“We hadn’t even practiced it,” Dawson said of the play, an inside run to the left by Mike Garrett.  “It wasn’t even in the game plan.”
Dawson took the snap and spun toward fullback Robert Holmes, who appeared to be running wide left.  Left tackle Jim Tyrer pulled left, convincing Minnesota end Jim Marshall that was the direction of the play.  Right guard Mo Moorman pulled to the left, trapping tackle Alan Page and clearing the path for Garrett.
Garrett bolted through the line of scrimmage, waited for tight end Fred Arbanas to wipe out middle linebacker Lonnie Warwick and pranced to the goal line.
“I told you that baby was there!” Stram chortled on the sideline.  “65 Toss Power Trap. … The coach pumped one in there.”

Like "takin' candy from a baby, boys!"

Here are some screen captures of the "most famous play." Hank shouts "65 toss power trap" to Gloster Richardson to relay to QB Len Dawson
Gloster looks backward to be sure, because that play wasn't in the game plan.
The play!  Dawson (16) hands off to Mike Garrett (21)
Garrett carries the ball into the end zone with Fred Arbanas sealing the block.
Everybody celebrates as Gloster comes off the field after the TD!

Screen captures from "America's Game," available at iTunes.

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