Former Packers recall improbable upset
The New York Jets’ upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III sent shockwaves throughout professional football.
Brash quarterback Joe Namath bold ly guaranteed a Jets victory, and then delivered as New York handily defeated 19- point favorite Baltimore, 16-7, at the Orange B owl in Miami.
Jerry Kramer, Packers guard from 1958-’68, had to eat some major crow after the shocking upset.
Green Bay, after an unprecedented three straight NFL championships, including Super Bowl I and I I titles under Vince Lombardi, failed to make the 1968 playoffs with a 6-7-1 record under new head coach Phil B eng tson.
That allowed Kramer to work for ABC network doing reports from Miami on the teams leading up to the Super B owl and on game day.
“All week long, I was telling the world that the Jets didn’ t have a chance, no shot in hell ,” Kramer said in a telephone interview from his Idaho home Sunday.
“I was pretty loud and obnoxious about it. Baltimore was the superior team, the NFL champion, and the New York Jets and Joe Namath were going to get their butts kicked .”
Kramer then had the task of interviewing Namath after the game in the Jets locker room.
“Well you can imagine it was obviously a bit uncomfortable for me ,” Kramer said .“Joe had heard my( prediction) all week long. Joe and I were pals, we knew each other. I choked it out, we got the interview done .”
Kramer, who had a weekly television show in Green Bay during the regular season, was invited to appear on Namath’s show in New York the following week.
“Joe gave me a lot of grief on his show,” Kramer said. “He mentioned Super Bowl rings, and I brought all my championship rings and Super B owl rings along with me. So when Joe brought his up, I said ,‘ That’ s really nice ... we got one like that in 1961,’62,’65,’66,’67. And two from the first two Super B owls.’
“Joe said ,‘ OK, OK, you got me .’” Former Packers center Bill Curry from 1965-’66, who played on Green Bay ’s Super B owl I team, was the Colts’ starting center in Super Bowl III.
“An awful memory for me—worst of my NFL career,” Curr y said Monday afternoon. “We had just beat Cleveland, 34-0 (in the NFL Championship Game), and Namath’s prediction was hilarious to us, but I don’ t think we took them lightly. We were confident.
“But on that day, they just beat us. We had turnover sand missed short field goals and Namath and Matt Snell had great games. The next four times we played the Jets we beat them. But not in Super Bowl III .”
Curry said the Baltimore players were required to attend a post-game par ty hosted by Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom.
“We were so stunned we lost and had to goto this big party ,” Curry said. “Don’t know what possessed me, but I went up to Mr. Rosenbloom, who was talking to actor Burt Lancaster, and said ,‘ We’ re going to be back in the Super B owl and win it next time.’ Thank goodness we won Super B owl V — and Mr. Rosenbloom reminded me of the promise I made to him at that party in Miami .”
Carroll Dale has witnessed monumental upset sat every level of foot- ball—high school, college, the NFL.
“When you don’t respect your opponent, you’ re subject to defeat ,” said Dale, the former Packers receiver from 1965-’72.“Seen it happen at all levels of football. When the question is not who, but by how much, there’s a possibility for an upset.
“The mental par t of the game is huge. The underdog is very motivated to win and prove everyone wrong. We represented the NFL pretty well in winning Super B owl I and II. Coach Lombardi had the pressure to not only win the game, but win big to prove the NF L’ s superiority .”
The Jets’ victory significantly increased the AF L’ s credibility.
“Huge win for the AFL and put Joe Namath in the hall of fame,” said Jim Grabowski, former Packers’ running back from 1966-’70, who was in the Orange B owl stands that day.
“I was shocked just like every other sports fan in the country ,” he said.
Grabowski and his wife ran into Namath after the game in downtown Miami.
“We were out on the town and stopped at the Playboy Club and there was Joe Namath,” Grabowski said with a laugh Monday afternoon. “He was bas king in all the glory. Joe was very gracious and obviously in high demand. All the Jets fans were celebrating and all the Colts fans were crying .”
Weeb Ewbank, coach of the New York Jets, congratulates quarterback Joe Namath with just seconds left in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl in Miami on Jan. 12, 1969. The Jets upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.