The Catch: Alive And Kicking
Last week, the NFL Network re-aired the epic playoff game between the heroic San Francisco 49ers and the evil Dallas Cowboys from back in January 1982. The 49ers won, of course, on Dwight Clark's catch in the back of the endzone (a photo of which appears here, and in a framed print in my office, for what it's worth) -- and what's more, it essentially acted as a changing of the guard: After winning this game and the Super Bowl, the 49ers were off on a streak of whose dominance has never been touched in the NFL. They won 10 games or more for SIXTEEN straight seasons, won five Super Bowls and featured the best quarterback, wide receiver and free safety to ever play the game. (Yes, that's Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott. There will be no debate on this, here.)
What's more, the Cowboys stopped being the team they'd been. They ended the 1970s as, along with the Steelers, one of the most dominant teams in all of the league. While they made the playoffs two of the next three seasons, they lost their first round games both times, once being shutout. It wouldn't be until the 1990s when they would again rise to prominence.
** History is also interesting. In thinking about this game, I of course considered Everson Walls, who was beat on The Catch. My memory - and I know that I've heard this stated several times by so-called professionals - is that Walls went from being a star rookie in 1981 to never being the same guy ever again. That may be so -- his rookie season was INCREDIBLE, with 11 interceptions -- but he made three more Pro Bowls and played in the NFL for 14 seasons. He led the league in intercepted passes three separate seasons, including that rookie campaign. For his career, Pro-Football Reference says he's most like guys like Darren Sharper, Carnell Lake, Dave Waymer and Hall of Famer Emmitt Thomas. I'm just saying - Walls was no slouch.
In any event, I'm just getting to watch the game now, and it's amazing. Immediately, players I hadn't thought about in awhile (Dwaine Board, Freddie Solomon and others were making plays. But what's more - it was 1982, and man, does that show.
From the utter lack of production value (announcer Hank Stram stares into the wrong camera and gets visibly and audibly flustered in the OPENING segment, and wow, what a rug that guy had) to the weak graphics and replay - not to mention the bad hair and clothes in the stands. It's pretty amusing. If I have one quibble, it's that the game tape is pretty horrid - it's like the NFL Network borrowed some guys VHS copy of the game.
A few years ago, I received a great present for the holidays - a DVD set with a separate DVD for each Super Bowl season. While each profile was great and entertaining, what I'd thought it included was the entire game, and I was disappointed to find out otherwise. One wish? Next time, let's include the original commercials. Now, that would be awesome.
This one gets filed under Keep Until I Delete.