Brent Musburger, his usual eager self, had barged into the Phoenix Open gold action earlier in the afternoon to beg viewers to stay tuned for the CBS Super Bowel game, same channel. Then, when the microphone was hit at Pasadena, Musburger's coverage of Super Bowl Sunday took off in many directions. Some needless.
First, he got a situation report from Irv Cross on the sidelines, who disclosed that the football field was now ornamented with 2,000 pounds of new seed. Then he switched to Jayne Kennedy in Helicopter No. 2 who told how beautiful Beverly Hills was from the air, and after that he sandwiched in Walter Cronkite's invitation for everybody to watch later for CBS News Update, a promo. Switch-artist Musburger brought himself back in for a taped interview with Terry Bradshaw, which could best have been left untaped."What will it take for the Steelers to win this game?" he asked Bradshaw. Proving why he is All-Pro, Bradshaw said simply, "We'll have to score the most points."
A bit later Musberger switched back to the field, with the game more than an hour away; Cheryl Ladd had yet to sing the National Anthem. When she finally did this No. 10 Looker scored less than half of that on melody.
They hadn't even got to the part where former coaches George Allen and John Madden were going to tell so interestingly about their veiwpoints of the upcomming game.
However, some of the estimated 100 million viewers could have been getting a suspicion about the whole show. Was Super Bowl XIV challenging Louis XIV for longevity of reign? Louis held forth for 72 years, you know.
On the air, Allen and Madden had chosen up sides, like a couple of kids, and Allen was saying how the Rams would beat the Steelers. George was never so joyous, he was talking football, and his eyes were darting, and his dimples were active and he was on a cloud. When he said how the Rams would stop the Steelers' wide receivers, Madden said, "You can't double Swann," and Allen said, "We're gonna double Swann even if he goes to the men's room."
Musburger also called in Stuttgart, West Germany, where Lindsey Nelson was among U.S. troops watching the game at midnight, and someone from Pittsburgh who said he thought the Steelers would win and someone from California who thought otherwise. Same thng happened in the two restaurants in Pittsburgh and L.A. where CBS arranged remotes, with provincialism reigning.
At last, with the game getting close to kickoff, they gave the show over to Pat Summerall, the play-by-play man, and his commentator. Tom Brookshier, and the heavy-hitting sponsors who were willing to pay the $234,000 for a half-minute commercial.
The commercial sponsors played their usual steady game, but the two football teams played a better game than Summerall and Brookshier reported. As telecasters, both are great meat-and-potatoes football men who recongnize the key blocks, the traps and the double blocks, and know a lot about coverage, but they know very little about bringing the excitement of the game to the viewers. Here were the Steelers, the team that was expected to blow the Rams out of the park, and at halftime they were not only losing, 13-10, but were being manhandled by the upstart, astonishing Rams. However, it was not until the third quater that Brookshier finally noted, "Gee, this is an exciting game."
This was not the art of understatement. It was underreconginition of what had gone on before.
CBS's cameras did a splendid job everywhere, perhaps showing a new high in good football coverage, and they were far ahead of the oral presentation in the booth.
But the production in one sense was miserable. Not once did they show in any graphic the relative number of passes thrown or completed by the two quarterbacks until the last quarter, and there was no story of the first downs or the yardage gained until late in the game, leaving the fans to guess about everything. For the sin, Roone Arledge would have shot the whole crew, if it had been one of his at ABC.
About the Steelers trying an onside kick in the eighth minute of the first quater after taking a 3-0 lead there was little noting of this show of contempt for the Rams, little suggestion from the booth that anything unusual had happened. Or that when the Rams went on to score their first touchdown and take the lead, it stemmed from the kick recovery on their own 40-yard line.
Nor was much note made that young Fararagamo threw only one pass in the first 20 minutes of play, and later completed five for five. Lots of fans would think this quite unusual. Finally, after the Steelers took back the lead, 17-13, and then were stunned by a halfback pass tha put L.A. back in front again, 19-17, Brookshier noted early in the fourth quater what 100 million TV viewers and the 103,985 in the stadium had well understood for most of the couple of hours. "The Stellers are a little shocked," he said.
In the postgame show, it was left to Cross to ask the inevitable question."How do you feel?" he said to the Steelers' obviously happy Franco Harris, who told him, after reflection, "I feel goood."