Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

Back in the Day: A Miserable Sunday in January

January 31st, 2020 · No Comments · Football, Journalism, NFL, Sports Journalism

The last time the Kansas City Chiefs appeared in the Super Bowl?

It was 50 years ago, on January 11, 1970. And I saw that game — because I have never missed a Super Bowl. Seen ’em all, if not in person (about a dozen of those as a sports journalist), then on TV.

So, the Chiefs. They had reached the first Super Bowl and got rolled by the Green Bay Packers, and they got back to the big game three years later.

It seems like the Chiefs have had a lot of pretty good teams in the half-century since Hank Stram’s men defeated the Minnesota Vikings, but they have never gotten back to the Big Game. Till now.

I remember their 23-7 victory over the Vikings fairly well, in part because I was an NFL fan (and the Chiefs were an AFL team) … and in greater part because I was miserably sick that day.

I had a case of oral herpes and, yes, it’s as bad as it sounds, and, no, I had not been doing anything normally associated with oral herpes. (No girlfriend. No boyfriend. I was 18, a Long Beach State freshman, at the time.)

I remember laying on the couch in the den, during the game, feverish and achy, too, with sores on my tongue, cheeks and lips — and deeply annoyed by how bad the Vikings were that day.

Eating was a nightmare. The slightest pressure on one of the sores was something approaching agony. (Before I recovered, I had lost 11 pounds in a week.)

My mother went out during the game and bought a couple of cups of yogurt for me. Until that day I had never had yogurt. Hard to believe, perhaps, but yogurt was not a product Americans ate a lot of, in 1970. I found it to be soft and sugary, which was something I needed, at the time.

Yogurt and soup … that was what got me through that awful week.

As often is the case with herpes simplex, the first outbreak is the worst, and subsequent outbreaks become less painful.


The Vikings offered me no relief. The Chiefs throttled the Minnesota offense, which was led by the mediocre Joe Kapp, perhaps the worst quarterback to play in a Super Bowl. (Check his stats; to call him mediocre would be high flattery.)

Meanwhile, the Chiefs did not have much trouble moving the ball against the Purple People Eaters (as the Vikings defense was called, back then). Len Dawson, Kansas City’s leader, was a good quarterback and he had an ordinary day at the office and was named game MVP.

The game is perhaps best remembered for the sassy Stram — who had been miked up for the game and never shut up. He mocked the Vikings, as his team pulled away, and in particular was scornful towards Minnesota’s safety Karl Kassulke.

At the time, the Chiefs had the look of a team that could win a couple more Super Bowls before they needed to be rebuilt.

They came close, several times, but they never did make it back to the championship game. Till this year, and it took Pat Mahomes to make it happen.

I think they will win today, mostly because of Mahomes — because the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers look pretty even, otherwise.

And I trust this Chiefs victory won’t hurt me nearly as much as it did the 18-year-old me.


0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment