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SUPER BOWL XXVII : Action in Press Box Almost as Lively

February 01, 1993|JACK SMITH

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills, 52-17, in Super Bowl XXVII Sunday in the Rose Bowl before 98,374.

That is what is known in newspaper writing as a lede. It is supposed to tell who, what, when, where and how. You won't find such a lede elsewhere in this section. Since television, it is obsolete. One billion people who saw the game on television already know all that.

If you look elsewhere in this section, you won't find the results that succinctly expressed.

You may notice that I neglected the how.

The how was 22 completions out of 30 passes by Troy Aikman, plus 108 yards rushing by Emmitt Smith and numerous fumbles, interceptions and assorted goofs by the hapless Bills. It is of no great consequence, but note that last Monday in my column I predicted that the Bills would score 17 points, which was exactly correct. At the same time, of course, I predicted that the Cowboys would score 27.

I point out that my estimate of the two teams as winners and losers was on the mark, although I fell several points short of predicting the Cowboys' total score.

I covered the game, if I may use that word, from the press box. It was the first time I had covered a game from a press box since I covered the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and their Bakersfield farm club in 1938. As I remember, Bakersfield won.

This Super Bowl game, by the way, was not nearly as exciting as the game between Belmont High and Garfield in 1933. I covered that for the Belmont Sentinel.

As I began my career as a sportswriter, this was a nostalgic experience. Of course, I had never seen anything quite as extravagant as this Super Bowl. I left my house in Highland Park, only nine miles away, at noon, and didn't reach the Rose Bowl parking lot until 1:40.

The press box is two stories up by elevator. Security is stringent. My press card made me feel like a celebrity. The working press sits at a long bench facing the field through glass. The Times' section was at dead center. My seat was on the 50-yard line. Jim Murray was on my right. Tim Kawakami was on my left. To their left and right were Allan Malamud, Mike Downey and Steve Springer. I was in fast company.

There was free lunch. I got a hot dog. Bill Dwyre, The Times' sports editor, was moving along behind our seats like a coxswain. He said: "Your lunch is in that bag," pointing under my seat. Evidently, nothing was too good for us sportswriters.

The scene was sensational. The Rose Bowl's setting is unmatched. It sits in the green arroyo beneath the blue denim San Gabriel mountains. A few cumulous clouds floated in the sunny sky.

"There are so many blimps," Murray said, "I expect to see the Hindenburg."

The pregame show was a Hollywood extravaganza, which doubtless will be described elsewhere, if it can be. Then the Bill and Cowboy cheerleaders came out to herald their teams. I don't want to seem entirely prejudiced in favor of the Cowboys, but their cheerleaders were certainly the most spectacular with short white shorts, white and blue tops and long suntanned legs. They introduced their respective teams to unholy screaming.

Garth Brooks sang the national anthem. Not very well, actually, but everyone stood for it and shouted their lungs out after "land of the free."

The game was hardly under way before there was a timeout for a commercial. It was a nuisance, seeing the players standing around idle, but of course the sponsors were paying $850,000 for that time. I realized that if everyone in the stadium paid $5, it wouldn't buy half a minute of that time. Commerce comes first.

Ironically, Buffalo scored first after a fumble was nullified by a penalty. That made it 7-0, perfectly safe for my prediction.

With about four minutes left in the quarter, Aikman passed 23 yards to Jay Novacek, and the conversion kick made it even. I was on track.

Three minutes later, Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly fumbled on his own two-yard line and the Cowboys recovered for a touchdown. That made it 14-7, which was still within my sights.

"I can't figure out who's going to win this," Murray said.

In the second quarter, the Bills scored a field goal, which made it fine. Then the Cowboys scored twice, making it 28-10 at halftime. So I was only one point off, as to Dallas.

"Now," Murray said, "I detect a trend." The halftime show was exhausting. They wheeled out a gray steel set that looked like an Aztec temple. Michael Jackson jumped up on its stage and 1,000 kids swarmed out over the field and surrounded it, screaming to brain-numbing music. Jackson began to gyrate and the mob screamed.

"All Bing Crosby needed," Murray said, "was a microphone. This guy gets a battleship."

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