Football Urban Legends Revealed #12

This is the twelfth in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous football legends.

Let’s begin!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: The Pittsburgh Steelers chose Mike Tomlin for their head coaching job over Ken Whisenhunt.

STATUS: False

This story really got a lot of play during the 2009 Super Bowl, as the Arizona Cardinals were pitted against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Whisenhunt had been a longtime assistant under legendary Steeler coach Bill Cowher, so when Mike Tomlin had gotten the job replacing Cowher, it was seen as though Tomlin got the position over Whisenhunt.

However, that’s not how the situation really unfolded.

Whisenhunt accepted the job as the Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals before the Steelers even finished their interviewing for the head coach job.

Most likely, Whisenhunt felt that his “real” competition for the job was fellow Steelers assistant coach Russ Grimm. In fact, Whisenhunt had already begun to make plans on how to divide up the Steelers personal between he and Grimm.

Instead, the Steelers hired the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

So instead of having the Steelers job, Grimm went to go work with Whisenhunt in Arizona.

And in each of their second seasons for their respective teams, Whisenhunt and Tomlin faced off in the 2009 Super Bowl, with Tomlin’s team winning the game.

Tomlin might have won the game, but many media outlets also gave him a “victory” over Whisenhunt in the head coaching “game” that just was not true.

FOOTBALL LEGEND: The beginning of the second half of Super Bowl I was re-played because NBC missed it.

STATUS: True

The very first Super Bowl between the AFL and the NFL was such a unique event at the time that no one was exactly prepared on how to handle the event.

One area that was very much unsettled was who would AIR the game! NBC had an exclusive contract with the AFL while CBS had an exclusive contract with the NFL.

So the two networks came to an agreement that would not be seen again until over forty years later (at the end of the 2007 season) – the networks would SIMULCAST the game!

CBS had their announcers: Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford and NBC had theirs: Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman.

However, while each network had their own announcing team, they both shared CBS’ feed. Since the game was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, CBS had priority. So during the game, NBC’s announcers and crew had to go by whatever the CBS sports director decided to show – as you might imagine, it was not a smooth experience (although we really don’t know for SURE what it sounded like, as “tragically,” there are no full recordings left of the first Super Bowl – the network tapes were “wiped”).

Nothing was odder, though, than what happened when the third quarter began – an event happened that really showed you how awkward the whole affair was. You see, when the Green Bay Packers kicked off to the Kansas City Chiefs to start the second half, NBC was still in a commercial!

So, not a big deal, right? So NBC was a little late – they’ll catch up, no?

No.

The on-field officials were notified of the “problem” and actually called the play dead and had them RE-KICK the kick-off!!!

Can you imagine something like that happening in the Super Bowl in 2011?

But back in 1967, things were a good deal less assured.

At least things began to get straightened out the next year, and Super Bowl I remains the only Super Bowl ever to be shared between two networks.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

2 Responses to “Football Urban Legends Revealed #12”

  1. I love when I get linked to your comics legends revealed, but I was not aware that you also did this for sports! You are my new internet hero.

  2. Brian Cronin on May 24th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Ha! Glad you like ‘em, Pip!

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