By: Adrian Jarding | @swimjarding
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Continuing the lead up to Super Bowl 50, we look at my #5-7 overlooked Super Bowl Stories.
For #10-8, click here.
#7: Tom Flores became the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl
One of the saddest parts about NFL history, is how often Tom Flores is forgotten. It’s a shame to forget a man who won two Super Bowls with the Raiders in some of the most tumultuous times in franchise history.
When John Madden retired after the 1978 season, Tom Flores was chosen to take the reigns of the future Hall of Famer. Expectations were high, as Madden had coached the winningest team of the 1970’s and won a Super Bowl in 1976.
Let’s backtrack a little bit though.
Before he was the head coach of the Raiders, Tom Flores was an aspiring player in the NFL. In 1959, he tried out for the Washington Redskins (remember this for later) and did not make the team.
Flores was a hispanic quarterback. The NFL never had a minority quarterback in its league before.
Fortunately for Flores though, a new football league was formed in 1960 called the American Football League (AFL) and he made the Raiders roster.
Flores started in the Raiders first game against the Houston Oilers in 1960, and became the first minority quarterback in professional football history.
He played a total of nine years in the AFL, and in 1969 became the first hispanic quarterback to win a Super Bowl as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the 1970s he bounced around as an assistant coach with the Bills and Raiders. He eventually won a Super Bowl as an assistant coach with Madden’s squad in 1976, becoming the first minority assistant coach to win a Super Bowl.
Jump to his second season as the Raiders head coach in 1980. The team went 11-5 and made one of the most improbable runs in playoff history to end up facing the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV.
The Raiders won 27-10 against the favorite Eagles, and with it, Flores became the first minority head coach in NFL history to win the Super Bowl (as well as becoming the first person to win as a player and coach).
Flores still never received much credit though for their run. Most of it was attributed to Madden’s foundation and Al Davis. Flores knew he still had something to prove.
The Raiders struggled in 1981 and 1982, mostly because Al Davis spent most of his time fighting the NFL and Pete Rozelle for the right to move the Raiders to Los Angeles.
In 1983, after having a season to settle down and get comfy in Los Angeles, the Raiders were ready once again to make a Super Bowl run when they drafted USC Hesiman winner Marcus Allen.
They dominated the NFL, finishing with a 12-4 record and running rough-shot over everyone in the playoffs.
In Super Bowl XVIII, the Raiders would meet of all teams, the Washington Redskins (did you remember) who had set the NFL record at the time for most points scored in a season.
The Raiders embarrassed the favorite Redskins 38-9 and Tom Flores won his second Super Bowl as a head coach.
Flores still didn’t receive much credit though. This time it went to Al Davis and Marcus Allen.
What Tom Flores accomplished is often overshadowed by a man who only won one Super Bowl and had a huge TV personality, an owner who could not stay out of the public eye, a running back who was bigger than Los Angeles itself, and a plethora of other coaches who either had bigger personalities or are remembered for an obscure reason.
He didn’t make any revolutions in terms of X’s and O’s, change the way the game is played, or have a memorable speech or quotes.
Flores took a different path.
Instead, he paved the way for future minority players and coaches like Junior Seau and Ron Rivera.
He made it possible for Art Shell to become the first African American head coach in the NFL.
Tom Flores may not be the most memorable coach in NFL history, but his impact and contributions must never be forgotten.
Why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame is beyond me.
#6: Doug Williams became the first African American Quarterback to win a Super Bowl
Long before Russell Wilson, Donovan McNabb and Colin Kaepernick played in the Super Bowl, there was one man who paved the way for their chances to play.
The second quarterback to win a Super Bowl under Joe Gibbs’ reign was also the first African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
Much akin to Tom Flores’ impact for minority players, Doug Williams’ achievement made a significant impact for African Americans who wanted to play quarterback.
Doug Williams went to Grambling State University where he led the Tigers to a 36-7 record in his three years as a starter, and finished fourth in the 1977 Heisman Trophy race.
In 1978, the only person from the NFL who came to visit Williams at Grambling State was Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs. He recommended the Bucs select Williams in the first round with their 17th overall pick, and they did.
To that point they had only won two games in their history. With Williams, they made the playoffs in three of the four years he was starter, making the NFC championship in 1979.
Williams was the only African American quarterback to play at the time in the NFL (Warren Moon was winning Grey Cups in Canada during this time) and therefore didn’t make too much money.
When he asked for a $600,000 contract and was denied, he bolted to the upstart United States Football League (USFL) and lit it up for two years.
After the league folded he got another chance to play in the NFL with Joe Gibbs, this time with the Redskins.
He had to beat out the embattled Jay Schroeder for the job.
In 1987 due to an injury, Williams got his chance and never looked back.
He led the Redskins to the Super Bowl, and during media day was asked the infamous question, “How long have you been a black quarterback?”
For many years it was thought to be a urban myth, but Williams later said it was true and thought the reporter was just a little nervous, thus he didn’t take ill will towards it.
The jury was still out though as to whether or not a black quarterback could win a Super Bowl. Williams silenced his critics by leading a 42-10 rout of the Broncos, and set a Super Bowl record with four touchdowns in a quarter.
Unfortunately for Williams, he is often forgotten for what he achieved in the NFL and the path he set for players like Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick.
Often times players like Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham are brought up instead of Williams when people talk about who the greatest African American quarterbacks are.
While his time in the NFL was shorter than the latter two players, it was very impactful and should never be forgotten.
#5: Chuck Howley wins Super Bowl V MVP, Dallas loses the game
“The Blunder Bowl”, “The Zany Bowl”, “The Not So Super Bowl”, “The Embarrassment Bowl”, this game is all of those names.
One of the most bizarre events of the modern game, Super Bowl V remains as the sloppiest game in Super Bowl history with a record 11 turnovers by both teams.
It was such a lousy game that the MVP voters honestly couldn’t find one player on the winning team of the Baltimore Colts who deserved the honor, so they gave it to a member of the losing Cowboys, Chuck Howley.
Why was this game so sloppy you might ask? Well there are a multitude of reasons of why both teams played so poor. We’ll start with the champion Colts.
The story of the 1970 Baltimore Colts started in the 1968 season.
The Colts finished 13-1 in the regular season.
They embarrassed the Browns in the NFL championship game 34-0, who were the only team to beat them all year.
They were going to be crowned the greatest team ever with their expected Super Bowl III victory.
Going into their matchup against the AFL champion New York Jets, the Colts were tabbed as a staggering 18-point favorite over the Joe Namath-led team.
You all know the rest, Namath made a guarantee, the Jets won 16-7, yada yada ya.
The Colts were of course scarred from this embarrassment and in 1969 finished with a 8-5-1 record. Head coach Don Shula was traded to the Miami Dolphins and thus Don McCafferty was named head coach.
After an up and down regular season, the Colts somehow made it to Super Bowl V.
The Cowboys also suffered from such embarrassment, losing the NFL championship game in 1966 and 1967 each time to Vince Lombardi’s Packers.
In 1968 and 1969 they got knocked out by the Cleveland Browns.
They were the favorites to win it all each year from 1967-1969, but fell short each time they were expected to rise up. This led to them being known as “Next Years Champions”.
Finally, in 1970, they were able to pull through in the playoffs, beating the Lions and 49ers to clinch a birth in Super Bowl V.
So comes the big day, in which a team trying to overcome the scars of losing in Super Bowl III squared off against “Next Years Champions”. On paper it should have been a pretty competitive matchup.
Instead, both teams showed obvious signs of urgency which resulted in careless play. The Colts turned the ball over seven times, while Dallas turned it over four times.
The epitome for Sports Illustrated’s summary of the game, “a series of freak plays which all turned to the favor of the Colts”, was a Johnny Unitas pass that bounced off of his intended receiver and into the hands of his tight end John Mackey who ran untouched for a touchdown. The Colts subsequently missed the extra point.
The Colts starting quarterback and future Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas was knocked out late in the second quarter, and in came Earl “Old” Morrall (by the way, he was the replacement for Bob Griese on the 1972 Dolphins).
If the day wasn’t already crazy enough, Cowboys rookie Duane Thomas fumbled the ball at the Colts one yard line in the third quarter.
Ensuing was a controversial call because the Cowboys center Dave Manders recovered the ball and should’ve been ruled a touchdown, but the refs gave it to the Colts as a touchback.
Colts rookie kicker Jim O’Brien drilled a game winner with five seconds left.
After the kick, Cowboys future Hall of Famer Bob Lilly (also known as “Mr. Cowboy) threw his helmet up in the air in disgust because he knew they should’ve won the game.
Chuck Howley was the first non-quarterback to receive the honor, the first player to receive the award as part of the losing side and the first player to reject the award as he was quoted as saying “it is meaningless because we lost.”
Super Bowl V remains as one of the great myths of Super Bowl history, and should not be forgotten due to it’s sheer bizarreness.
Come back tomorrow for numbers #2-4