We're a few days away from Superbowl XLV, and rooting for a Vince Lombardi trophy this year are the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The world is excited, advertisers are lining up and people are already mortgaging their houses for tickets. So we thought it was apt to pay tribute to the game that made the game as popular and glamorous as it is today: Superbowl III.
During the game's early years in the mid-60s, nobody really took the Superbowl seriously. There were no fireworks, no worldwide coverage, no Paul McCartney halftime shows and no absurd multi-million dollar advertisement spots.
Sure, the game pitted the champions of the National Football League against the American Football League, but NFL teams were considered so dominant that anything less than a blowout would've been considered a little miracle.
So it took America by surprise when in January 9, 1969, three days before the game, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath publicly guaranteed a victory against NFL champions Baltimore Colts. Irked by a trash-talking Colts fanatic, Namath retaliated by screaming back the words "We're gonna win the game! I guarantee it!" His words got nothing but laughs, shrugs and cries of arrogance from everyone. After all, the Jets' record wasn't even good enough to make the playoffs in the NFL.
Unfortunately for the Colts, Namath is no Rasheed Wallace. He actually makes good on his word. So he gathered his teammates, locked themselves inside the film room and studied all the holes in the Colts' defense. They found so many weaknesses that tight-end Pete Lammons urged the team to stop watching because they are "gonna get overconfident."
The big day came, and the players were ready to translate their talking on the field. Perhaps motivated by Namath's words, the Colts came up strong right away. They stuffed the Jets' first possesion, gaining only 15 yards on five plays. But the Jets had an ace up their sleeve - their injured wide receiver, Don Maynard.
Entering the game, Maynard was regarded as the biggest threat on the team. His 112-yard, two-touchdown performance in the AFL championship was still fresh in the Colts' minds. What they didn't know, however, is that Maynard pulled his hamstring in that game.
They put double coverage on Maynard, leaving Namath free to throw the ball to his other receivers. That, and a couple of lucky defensive plays, was all the Jets needed to pull off what is still regarded as the biggest upset in Superbowl's history. And perhaps, its most important one as well.