The questions came fast and hard, and sometimes foolish.But Otis Sistrunk, the huge defensive end of the Oakland Raiders, stood his ground.
One interviewer, taking note of Sistrunk's bald head, asked if he'd ever been mistaken for Kojak.
"Yeah," replied Sistrunk, who looks nothing like actor Telly Savalas, "by some who can't see."
Later, it was suggested to Sistrunk that even inane questions at Super Bowl week are better than his days with the Norfolk Neptunes of the Continental League.
"I was not ignored," Sistrunk replied, his ego scuffed. "I was lineman-of-the-year there in 1971 and I led the league in sacking quarterbacks. I made $700 a week. It was a Pittsburgh Steelers' farm team then!"
Sistrunk said he was on the same team with Jim Clack, who was called up to play guard for the Steelers. But Pittsburgh never invited him to try out.
"That's why I went to one of those wide-open tryout camps (1971) the Redskins have," he went on. "Tim Tomarario told me I could not play there because I was under contract to Norfolk. George Allen told me he would like to keep me but couldn't for that reason."
Sistrunk became free to sign with the rams, who traded him to the Raiders. "Tommy Prothro was the Ram's coach then," Sistrunk recalled. "He told me he had just drafted a bunch of young linemen and was sending me where he thought I could play regularly. He did me a favor."
Sistrunk said he did not go to college because his family could not afford it, even though he received offers of about 15 scholarships, "mostly in the South. Besides, I preferred to play basketball (at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds). But I got no offers of basketball scholarships."
Sportscaster Alex Karras gave Sistrunk a high recognition profile with repeated references to the Raider lineman attending the "University of Mars."
Did Sistrunk mind?
He made me a lot of extra dollars. I've appeared in two movies, Weed and Car Wash. My wife has been my agent, except for a porno film I made which is coming out next month. I don't know the name of it, and I don't want to know. It took me three weeks to tell my wife Alma, that I did it.
"I play a cop who chases a 6-foot-9 guy who attacked a girl. I killed him. Pete Banaszak was supposed to be in it, too, but his wife heard about it."
The Raider brochure now says of Sistrunk: "He is an aggressive pass rusher with the ability to intimidate passers."
He said, "We're taught to play rough because the easier you play the more likely you are to get hurt. Those charges of us being a dirty team don't bother me, because I know we're not a dirty team."
Raider coach John Madden, coaching in his first Super Bowl, said he wasn't concerned with the charge, either.
"Talk is one thing we've handled well because we've had controversy all year," he explained. "First we had the Pittsburgh situation, calling us criminals, and then the inadvertent whistle against Chicago. There was talk about laying down for Cincinnati and then talk of 'Oh my God, they didn't' when we beat Cincinnati. There was controversy in our win over New England and there was talk of World Warr III when we had to play Pittsburgh. Talk doesn't bother us. We've dealt with it all season.
"We've been in a lot of games which have been surrounded by controversy. Our team has found out that all the rhetoric before the game doesn't mean a thing. It's what happens on the field that counts and we realize it."