Former Telegram-Tribune photographer Jim Vestal dropped by town the other day.
He was a multi-award winning photographer in late 1960s for the newspaper and later went to the Sacramento Union as photo editor.
He suggested looking up one of his stories from January 1967 just before Super Bowl I.
If you are like me and have difficulty reading Roman numerals, it was Super Bowl 1, and the Green Bay Packers were practicing at UC Santa Barbara.
Today the Super Bowl champion is awarded the Lombardi Trophy. In 1967 Vince Lombardi was head coach of the Packers.
Unfortunately that era’s newspaper’s archivist did not hang onto the prints or negatives so we will have to settle for a scan from the microfilm.
Spoiler alert: The final Jan. 15, 1967, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10.
On Jan. 13, 1967, Telegram-Tribune reporter Charles Yoakum explained the job description of quarterback.
The Super Bowl’s Starr
SANTA BARBARA—To appreciate the quarterback in football, it is said, you should have at some time knelt in a huddle of sweaty faces, called a play, then turned it into a living thing. The quarterback is to football as the engineer is to a train or the director is to the symphony orchestra.
He makes it go. It is up to him to make the decisions of a general, perform sleight-of-hand like a Las Vegas dealer and dissect the defense like a professional biologist.
The man who makes the Green Bay Packers go — who are training here for Sunday's Super Bowl game against the Kansas City Chiefs — is a mild Alabaman named Bart Starr.
In the NFL — whose honor is at stake in the Super Bowl — there are passers, throwers, scramblers … and then there is Starr, who does a little of everything. All of them well.
Starr looks more like the owner of a hobby store — or a banker — than a professional quarterback. In reality, he is the manager of the Packers’ real estate program. He buys it yard by yard. He buys it with the power of fullback Jimmy Taylor, the agility of Paul Hornug and with his own right arm.
“When he first came up,” said coach Vince Lombardi, “he didn’t have enough confidence, but now he has a lot of leadership ability and he knows what I expect.”
What Lombardi expects — this coming Sunday as every Sunday — is results. He counts on Starr to come up with the results.
An 11-year veteran of the NFL, Starr is now a journeyman. He knows what he must do and goes out and does it.
“It has gotten so that I just tell myself ‘well Bart, let’s go’ and I can go out and perform, but it didn’t used to be that way,” he said this week between drills.
Starr, who turned 33 Monday, and the rest of the team know that the entire football population will be watching the Super Bowl and drawing conclusions. “Is the AFL really ready for the NFL?” is the question being asked all over the country.
The Packers’ drills here in the sunny climate of Santa Barbara have been closed to both press and public since Monday. Lombardi says that players are no more worried about this game than any other. But he’s not fooling anyone.
“We know that the rest of our league is going to be judged by our performance,” said defensive tackle Henry Jordan, “The people have been asking for this game for five years and here it is.”
The feeling is prevalent in the Packer camp that the Chiefs are an underrated team.
“On film, their offensive line blocks as good as any one I have ever seen,” said Jordan, a 10-year veteran from Virginia. It will be up to the balding Jordan and his buddies in the front four — Ron Kostelnik, Lionel Aldridge, and Willie Davis — to slow down the speedy Chiefs, called by Lombardi the “fastest overall team I have ever seen.”
If the Packers feel they have an edge, they think it is in the experience department. The Packers are used to the “big games,” the championship contests. The Chiefs are not.
If Monday’s practice is any indication, Lombardi will go with Taylor and Elijah Pitts at the running backs, with rookies Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski to back them up. “Golden Boy” Paul Hornung is not figuring to see much duty. Hornung was allowed to run only on a limited scale Monday, an indication that his leg injury has not completely healed despite Lombardi’s statements to the contrary.
The Packer’s workouts have been limited to two-hour morning sessions at the UCSB field, but the afternoons and evenings are filled with study sessions and the development of a game plan.
The Packers are housed at the plush Santa Barbara Inn but have little time for the pleasures offered. Lombardi’s schedule keeps all of them busy most of the time ,and when he doesn’t, the newspaper and television men do.
Only Sunday will tell whether the Packers have upheld the NFL’s claim as the top professional football league. The money here in Santa Barbara and among the sportswriters is on the Packers and their grind-‘em-out offense and reluctant defense.
The Packers fear most the running of Mike Garrett and Curtis McClinton, the powerful 1-2 punch of the Chiefs.
“I have never seen a better runner-blocker combination than Mike Garrett,” says Jordan.
“The only comparable one in the NFL is Dick Bass of the Rams. They are about the same build and both of them hit you at the knees hard.”
Come next Monday, there will be thousands of stories written around the nation about the Super Bowl. It will be analyzed and super-analyzed in millions of words.
But all wee need to say now about the Packers is that they are ready.