Pro Football Editor Joe Marshall spent most of last week in Detroit, and one afternoon he received a message from the hotel operator at press headquarters: Call Trout Pomeroy at this number. Marshall prefers Steak Diane, but he's a courteous man, so he dialed Trout Pomeroy. As it turned out, Pomeroy was a reporter for The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich., and he wanted to know how many SI editorial staffers—writers, reporters, photographers, etc.—would be working at Sunday's Super Bowl game.
The number was XIII, but that didn't include Marshall. The problem with being SI's pro football editor is that you never get to see the Super Bowl live. True, you visit the game site for several days to plan coverage—and, in Marshall's case, check out the Steak Diane—but our closing schedules demand that you be in our New York offices on Super Sunday.
So Marshall, knowing that after a full Sunday behind his desk he'd have to be in the office at 6 a.m. Monday to edit the 12-page Super Bowl package that begins on page 12, left early Saturday morning to catch a noon flight. No luck. New York was shut down because of bad weather, so that night Marshall had to share a motel room near the Detroit airport with Vince Lombardi Jr., the assistant executive director of the NFL Management Council. That got Marshall to thinking about the first of the eight Super Bowl games he has seen live. "It was IV, the 1970 game between Kansas City and Minnesota," Marshall said, "and I watched it from a seat behind Vince Lombardi Sr. and Redskin Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. Lombardi was grimacing through the whole game, and when the Chiefs won the AFL's second consecutive Super Bowl victory, Jurgensen pointed to Lombardi, whose Packers had beaten the NFL representatives in Supers I and II, and said, 'He's the only one who knows the secret of beating the AFL.' "
Marshall was then a recent alumnus of Princeton. By Super Bowl V, he was a graduate student in journalism at Columbia and arranged to work, without pay, as a gofer in the NFL's press room; in fact, Marshall even paid his own air fare between New York and Miami. Six months later he joined our staff, and he hasn't paid for an airplane ticket since. We pay for his business trips, of course, and his wife, Leslie, a stewardess, provides free passes for vacation trips for the Marshall team, which includes son Seton, 2½, and daughter Rebecca, 1.
For Marshall, that extra night in Detroit was hardly a waste. The next big game in football, now that the Super Bowl is over, will be the contract negotiations between the owners and the players. Marshall launched SI's coverage of that confrontation when he assigned Robert H. Boyle to report on the players' demands (page 30). "Vince didn't seem too confident that the negotiations would be concluded soon," Marshall says. "What it all means, I guess, is that there will be no end to this football season—and maybe no beginning to the next one."
JOE MARSHALL—BACK FROM DETROIT FOR THE GAME