Weirdest Super Bowls ever, #2: Super Bowl VII

Friday, February 5, 2016 9:40 PM

Garo Yepremian showing awesome passing form in Super Bowl VIILARams.net continues its countdown of not the best or most exciting Super Bowls of all-time, but the weirdest with a game full of notoriety and oddity, but well short on action…

Previous weirdies included:

5. Super Bowl XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19

4. Super Bowl XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13

3. Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10

And now…

2. Super Bowl VII – Miami Dolphins 14, Washington 7.
Full disclosure: I’ve never actually seen Super Bowl VII – just one of the two I’ve missed live or on replay. And I probably never will.

Why? The mystery.

After all, the lore and legends surrounding this Super Bowl are certainly well more interesting than a ballgame featuring three scores including one drive-less touchdown sparked by the most infamous Super Bowl turnover ever.

In fact, here it is: The play that made “Garo Yepremian” a household name…

In terms of further oddity, would you believe a team on a 16-0 run had a quarterback controversy going into a Super Bowl? After Deacon Jones (then with the San Diego Chargers, dammit) knocked Bob Griese out in week five, 38-year-old, two-time Super Bowl QB Earl Morrall took over and ultimately won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award. And so Don Shula did not announce his starting quarterback until game day. Crazy.

As we know now, Griese started and played throughout Super Bowl VII to cap the Dolphins’ undefeated season. But have you looked at his stats for that game? Here, see if you can choose his line from among the following bunch.

A. 12-of-25 for 153 yards; 1 TD, 0 int.

B. 17-of-30 for 177 yards; 1 TD, 2 int.

C. 8-of-11 for 88 yards; 1 TD, 1 int.

D. 14-of-28 for 104 yards; 0 TD, 3 int.

Griese’s line is in fact Quarteback C. Quarterback A is Trent Dilfer for the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV; B is Steve Grogan, who subbed in for the New England Patriots in the debacle that was XX; D is Billy Kilmer, Griese’s counterpart in this game. Sure, Larry Csonka ran up 112 yards rushing on 15 carries but just how slow was this 17-0 offense?

And check this out: Behind Griese’s mighty aerial attack, these Dolphins of lore managed – get this – zero points in the second half. Do you know how many *teams* have scored a goose egg in one half in Super Bowl history? Four: Miami in VI, the Minnesota Vikings in IX, the New York Giants in XXXV and, um, Washington in this game. Needless to say, none of those teams won.

Finally, there’s President Nixon. Just about anything involving ol’ Tricky Dick is likely to crack a “Weirdest” list, and the intrigue he added to Super Bowl VII makes this game no exception.

See, back in 1971, as the story goes

Still, the failed Jefferson reverse, as suggested by Nixon, has become a permanent part of both men’s official history. This is from The Post’s A1 Allen obituary:

“[Washington head coach George] Allen’s friends included President Nixon, and Allen used a play Nixon had suggested for the 1971 playoff game against San Francisco. It was a reverse to wide receiver Roy Jefferson that lost 13 yards. So much for presidential prerogative, but that play – which was much utilized by political cartoonists – indicated the level and intensity of interest Allen had created in the Redskins in Washington.”

The Post has returned to this well again and again. In 1986, the Outlook section mentioned “the failed trick play [Nixon] sent in to Redskins coach George Allen during a playoff game in 1971.” In 1991, Style mentioned “the time Richard Nixon called Allen to suggest a play that didn’t work.” In 2001, Ken Denlinger wrote that Nixon “suggested an end-around play that Allen used in a 1971 playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers that failed miserably.” In 2004, George Solomon wrote that “Nixon’s play was a dud.” And in 2008, Mike Wilbon wrote that Nixon “sent a play or two to Redskins Coach George Allen.”

Eight years ago, coach Allen’s daughter Jennifer wrote at ESPN.com that:

...the story behind “Nixon's Play” has evolved in many ways. Once, I heard someone say that Nixon had called the play during Super Bowl VII in 1973, when [Washington] lost to the undefeated Miami Dolphins. Another time, I heard someone say that Nixon, even in retirement in San Clemente, still called in plays to my father. And to this day, many perceive Nixon as an unofficial off-the-field coordinator who had a direct hot line to my father on the sidelines at RFK.

And two years ago, Yahoo Sports claimed that Nixon sent in a play in Super Bowl VI *for the Miami Dolphins*.

So who cares if any of it’s true? When I finally do sit down to watch a recording of Super Bowl VII, I’ll willingly believe the mythology of Offensive Coordinator Nixon as I try to figure out which plays came from his playbook and which from Allen’s.

After that, I’ll get back to work on my latest Kennedy assassination theory…

– written by Os Davis

Next: The strangest Super Bowl from start all the way to finish…

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