01/28 16:16 CST Column: Super Bowl streak ends at age 89 for Izenberg
Column: Super Bowl streak ends at age 89 for Izenberg
By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist
MIAMI (AP) --- Jerry Izenberg can still write, as anyone who reads his columns
in the Star-Ledger in New Jersey knows. Just the other day he wrote a good one
about an aging sports writer who has been to every Super Bowl since the first
one in 1967.
That sports writer won't be in Miami this week. But don't fear, he'll still be
watching the game --- from a casino sports book in Las Vegas.
"I'm old, not dead,'' Izenberg said.
At the age of 89, Izenberg decided to end his streak of Super Bowls at 53 ---
or LIII in NFL lingo. His absence at the game leaves 91-year-old Jerry Green of
Detroit as the only daily newspaper writer who will have attended all 54 games,
though writer/blogger Dave Klein has also been to every game.
Thankfully, in today's fractured media world, the decision was his alone.
Izenberg could have gotten on a plane to Miami, but he's slowing down
physically and Super Bowl week can be difficult for even a 20-something blogger
The legs, he says, are always the first to go.
"I'm not kidding myself, discretion became the better part of valor,''
Izenberg said in a phone interview. "One fall and that will be it.''
He was poolside with Joe Namath before Super Bowl III, the game that Namath
famously predicted a win for the upstart New York Jets. He argued with former
commissioner Pete Rozelle over having the 1970 Super Bowl --- the last Super
Bowl the Kansas City Chiefs were in --- outdoors in a frigid New Orleans so
that the city could one day have a team of its own.
And he can tell stories about everything from fighting through the snow to get
in the Silverdome in Detroit to listening to Raiders owner Al Davis talk about
how the Raiders were going to stuff the famed Green Bay sweep in the second
One thing you won't get from him is a review of the halftime music acts.
"I will say proudly I've never seen a halftime show in my life,'' Izenberg
said. "I'm always working.''
Always hustling, too, which is why he had more than enough material to write
the definitive book about Rozelle in 2014 --- one of a number of books Izenberg
has penned over a career that began at the Star-Ledger in 1951 when he was a
student at Rutgers University.
He's a columnist emeritus now, living the good life in Henderson, a suburb of
Las Vegas, where he still goes to the big fights.
Oh, the stories Izenberg can tell, about Super Bowls great and not so great.
He's covered them from the beginning, when at the age of 36 he sat in the press
box of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and watched the Packers win the first
Super Bowl before a crowd that half filled the massive stadium.
Before that game, Izenberg and a few other writers went out to the Green Bay
hotel in Santa Barbara to find Vince Lombardi pacing in the driveway, fuming
about how unfair it was NFL owners were warning him that he couldn't lose a
game to the upstart Chiefs from the AFL.
Inside the hotel, his players didn't feel nearly as much pressure.
"I asked (guard) Fuzzy Thurston, do you know who is on this team?'' Izenberg
recalled. "Not really, he said, we saw one film. We're going to beat this team
and beat them easy because we've got the best coach who ever lived.''
In those days, writers would go to team hotels and interview players in their
rooms. Catching Namath poolside wasn't a big deal, and the NFL hadn't even
begun thinking about a media opening night that would turn into the circus it
It's different today, a big reason Izenberg is ending his streak. The logistics
of covering Super Bowl week are daunting, with long bus rides and walks, and
the reward is often the same quotes used by reporters who simply wait in a
media room for the quote sheet --- or now, audio links --- to come out.
"I'm going to miss it, that's for sure,'' he said. "But I tell you what I
won't miss is the line from one end of a very large press room to the other to
get to the men's room. I will not miss the cheap box lunches where you're
eating the box in the fourth quarter. I won't miss being herded and shepherded
The biggest thing Izenberg will miss are his friends. Legends of the business
such as Miami's Edwin Pope, Blackie Sherrod of Dallas, Jack Murphy from San
Diego and the great Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times.
They were all part of the same business, separated by thousands of miles most
of the year but always happy to get together at big events like the World
Series, Kentucky Derby and, of course, the Super Bowl.
His friends are mostly all gone now, and his membership in a rare club is about
to come to an end, like it has for all of them. Izenberg will watch this Super
Bowl from the comfort of the sports book at the Sunset Station.
He will, of course, write a column about the degenerate gamblers and what they
thought of the game.
Because while he may not be in Miami, a good writer never really quits.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to
him at email@example.com or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg