ENGSTER: From Super Bowls to Brady Ball

This weekend's Super Bowl provides the climax of an NFL season that has grown from 12 regular season games and one post-season game in 1960 to 16 regular season contests plus four playoff tilts in the case of the New York Giants.

As the professional game has blossomed with more games, franchises, fans and television appearances, the money flowing into NFL coffers has also exploded proportionately. John Mecom sold the New Orleans Saints to Tom Benson for $70 million in 1985. Today, Benson could unload the franchise for at least ten times that amount.

While Mecom and his rag-tag Saints organization were preparing for their debut season in 1967, the first Super Bowl game was played on Jan. 15. It was the last game in a Green Bay uniform for LSU's Hall of Fame running back Jim Taylor. Eight months later, Taylor was fighting for yardage in the Saints backfield. He completed a brilliant ten-year career by leading New Orleans with a scant 390 yards on the ground in '67.

Forty-one years ago, No. 31 rushed for a game-high 56 yards and one touchdown of 14 yards as the Packers beat Kansas City 35-10 before 61,946 fans in the 90,000 seat Los Angeles Coliseum. The game was first called the NFL-AFL Championship, and both CBS and NBC televised the Super Bowl I.

Eighty-percent of all televisions in the U.S. were tuned to the game, and the cost of a 30-second spot was $42,000. The price of admission to the L.A. Coliseum was $12. Nobody in the network television business recognized the significance of the first Super Bowl.

Thus, broadcast tapes of the historic game were taped over by both CBS and NBC. There is only scattered footage available of the inaugural Super Bowl—the annual event which has evolved into America's most prolific cultural phenomenon.

Taylor epitomized the power and glory of Vince Lombardi's Packers of the 1960's. The Baton Rouge High product finished his NFL tenure as the second leading rusher in the history of the league. Only Jim Brown was more prolific in Taylor's time. Brown paced the NFL in rushing eight times in nine seasons. The only exception was in 1962 when Taylor rushed for 1,474 yards and 19 touchdowns in 14 games.

During a five-year period from 1960-64, Taylor rushed for 6,069 and 66 touchdowns in 66 games. Because of the expansion of the NFL schedule, Taylor's numbers would be amassed in the equivalent of four seasons in contemporary professional football.

Jim Taylor is now 72 years old and resides in Baton Rouge where one of his neighbors is Dale Brown, who was born 46 days after his fellow LSU sporting legend. At six-feet tall and 214 pounds, Taylor was no steroid-induced monster. Be he remains the most heralded NFL star produced by the Ole War Skule.

LSU's all-time leading rusher, Kevin Faulk, will be on the field Sunday in Glendale, Arizona as the New England Patriots aim for an undefeated season and their fourth Super Bowl crown. The 19-0 Pats are 12 point favorites over the Giants, who have won an NFL record ten straight road games.

The Pats edged San Diego 21-12 in the AFC Championship Game as Faulk caught eight passes for 82 yards. In nine years with New England, Faulk has rushed for 2,663 yards and eleven touchdowns and snared 323 passes for 2,818 yards and eleven scores.

Faulk's professional rushing total is similar to that of LSU great Charles Alexander, who was misused as a fullback in seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Alexander finished his career with 2,645 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. He fumbled only six times in 748 carries, making him the least frequent fumbler in the history of the NFL.

If New England prevails, Faulk will have his fourth Super Bowl Championship ring. He will have equaled Jim Taylor with four NFL titles, but Faulk still has miles to travel to equal the other professional accomplishments of his LSU forerunner.


Louisiana's new governor, Bobby Jindal, changed his name from Piyush to Bobby in honor of the youngest member of the early 70's television sit-com, "The Brady Bunch."

Less than a month into his term as the state's chief executive, it appears the LSU version of the Brady Bunch is also about to be re-named.

The eleven-year odyssey of John Brady as LSU basketball coach is closing with a whimper. The Tigers are winless in the SEC, and the dean of league coaches is on the ropes.

Brady's days as coach could be down to single digits if LSU President John Lombardi decides to nail his second high-profile campus personality in a month. Lombardi has already shelved the third highest paid man on campus in Sean O'Keefe. The LSU chancellor will officially move to the classroom later this week.

Williams Jenkins, the jovial former LSU president and ex-chancellor, takes over for O'Keefe at Thomas Boyd Hall. Jenkins might have a directive from Lombardi to mosey down to the PMAC sometime after Feb. 1 and pull the trigger on Brady, the second highest paid man on campus.

Brady is 191-138 overall and 73-92 in the SEC since succeeding Dale Brown in 1997. In his first eleven seasons, Brown posted a 194-119 overall mark and went 112-86 in the SEC.


Jim Engster is the general manager of Louisiana Network and Tiger Rag. Reach him at jim@la-net.net.

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