Sunday, January 6

Super Bowl Memories

It was Sunday, January 12, 1975. The Pittsburgh Steelers were in the Super Bowl for the first time: Super Bowl IX (as in “Nine”). No, my young readers, 33 years ago players did not wear leather helmets. And no, television news coverage wasn’t in black-and-white, it was in color (although at KDKA-TV, the kick-butt #1 station in Pittsburgh, our news stories were shot on film, not tape). And covering the activities in New Orleans for the week leading up to the big game meant shipping film back to the station. No satellites, no same-day coverage.

Good thing KDKA had “The Mouth of the South,” Bill Currie, as our sports director. He had a nose for…uh…detail! He was there when the motor homes carrying “Gerella’s Guerillas,” the fan club for kicker Roy Gerella, pulled into Tulane Stadium. Currie was rambling on about the arduous trip down from Pittsburgh, the non-stop hours on the road, the testing of man and machine when the RV convoy creaked to a stop. The doors burst open, a bugle charge was sounded, and the first five guys to pile out were balancing cases of beer on top of their heads.

Currie turned, paused a perfect beat-and-a-half, and said, “Obviously involved in some sort of religious observance.”

Super Bowl Sunday

Remember, in those days the game started at 4:00 or 4:30. There was no nine-hour pre-game show with 1,000 Elvis impersonators riding wildebeests around the stadium side-saddle with the reins in their mouths while shooting live wombats into the crowd from T-shirt cannons while scantily-clad cheerleaders passed up and down the aisles handing out complimentary packets of Purina Wombat Chow. Yeah, in those days the Super Bowl was already wrapped tightly in the American flag (you know; if I have ten flags on my lawn and you only have five, I'm twice as good an Amur'can as youse): but for the most part it was a football game!

Problem was, the game was on NBC, and at KDKA (CBS) we were scheduled to air a newscast at 6:00.

But what are you gonna do? The game was far from over and far from decided when 6PM rolled around. On NBC, it was 2-0 Steelers at the half after Minnesota Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton fell on a fumble in the end zone and was covered by Dwight White for a safety. I guess an ought-ought tie would have been closer, but certainly not as dramatic!

Our newscast open rolled, anchor Dennis Holly was cued, and said “Good evening, I’m Dennis Holly. What…are…YOU…doing…HERE??????”

After he tossed to the first story, I leaned into the IFB and said, “Holly, if station management is watching you’re in big trouble.”

Of course, they weren't (watching) and he wasn't (in trouble). No one in Pittsburgh was watching us that night. We were hardly watching. In the control room and down on the studio floor, the entire KDKA production staff was watching the game out of the corners of our eyes.

In the end the Steelers beat the Minnesota Vikings 16 to 6 for their first Super Bowl victory (with many more to come). Franco Harris ran for 158 yards on 38 carries and was named MVP. Other Steeler names you might remember: Terry Bradshaw, “Mean” Joe Greene, linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert, receiver Lynn Swann and—of course—coach Chuck Noll. Ten members of that team made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Any arguments? I didn't think so.

I left KDKA not long after, and lost track of Dennis Holly. Even a “Google” search couldn’t tell me where he is now and what he’s doing. I was able to track him to KXAS in Dallas in the eighties…but the trail goes cold after that. Anyone know where Dennis Holly is today?

I did come across a fascinating site run by Pittsburgh photographer Ron Newcomer:
He gave me his permission to use this photo from way back when.