Super Bowl Memories – SB XVI Introduces A 49ers Dynasty As We Weather The Weather In Pontiac, Michigan

Eight degrees. Eight! Snow on the ground. And in the air. Ugh. No palm trees. No beach. Nothing that looks like a Super Bowl. And what does it look...

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Eight degrees. Eight! Snow on the ground. And in the air.


No palm trees. No beach. Nothing that looks like a Super Bowl.

And what does it look like?

Let us use Edgar Allen Poe’s descriptive prose from The Fall of the House of Usher: “There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart –an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.”

Welcome to Detroit in winter.

It’s January, 1982. It’s the first Super Bowl in a northern city. The mechanics of it ultimately failed in a number of ways but the San Francisco 49ers’ dynasty was birthed with a 26-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at the Pontiac Silverdome.

The 49ers may be on the cusp of another dynasty as they prepare for Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday. The victory in Pontiac started the era of coach Bill Walsh, quarterback Joe Montana, defensive back Ronnie Lott and so many more. Walsh won three Super Bowls, Montana four and became a three-time MVP.

The biting cold and snow curtailed many outdoor activities previously associated with Super Bowl week – golf tournaments, parties, boat rides. It led to Detroit’s legendary sports columnist, Joe Falls, asking his fellow scribes for help writing a mid-week piece entitled: A Super Bowl in Detroit is like …

The collected wit and wisdom in that column will never be duplicated (I exaggerate, but only slightly). One entry I still recall (but didn’t submit) was … spending your honeymoon at the No-Tell Motel.

On the Sunday of the game, ice and snow caused enormous traffic jams. A 49ers bus bearing Walsh and Montana got caught up in not only the weather but the motorcade taking Vice President George H. Bush to the stadium and arrived 90 minutes before kickoff.

“Coach Walsh was pretty loose on the bus,” Montana told Sports Illustrated. “He said, ‘I’ve got the radio on and we’re leading 7-0. The trainer’s calling the plays.’”

A bus full of media types bogged down half a mile from the stadium. Braver (and weather-proof) folks who wanted to see the game got off the bus, traipsed through the snow and slush and finally made it inside. I believe there was one case of frostbite.

If Walsh had been loose on the team’s bus, he was on top of its game during the 49ers’ arrival from San Francisco. Few players recognized the silver-haired gentleman in the bellhop uniform as their coach. Fewer still tipped Walsh.

My part of the winter nuttiness? Ah, I was seated (as usual) in the auxiliary press box. We of the aux box were escorted to the locker room area at the start of the fourth quarter and ultimately missed all ensuing action. The home stretch of that game included the Niners’ goal-line stand to preserve their victory. Not for our eyes, though.

We followed our guide through the concrete tunnels of the Silverdome, wended this way and that, reversed course, stopped, prayed for manna and … nearly left the stadium.

We’d been following Bush’s security detail.

Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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