Keeping the Streak Alive

By Scott Cole / January / February 2003
June 22nd, 2007
Jerry Green ’50 is one of the few U.S. sports fans who has never watched a Super Bowl on television—yet he hasn’t missed one touchdown, tackle, or fumble. That’s because Green is one of only seven print journalists to have covered all thirty-six Super Bowl games in person. A sports reporter and columnist for the Detroit News since 1963, he hopes to extend the streak this January when he covers Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego.

At the age of seventy-four, Green, who in December was voted to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame along with Barry Sanders and Joe Dumars, still possesses an undiminished enthusiasm for the nation’s biggest annual sporting event. He considers his streak the highlight of a journalism career that has included being voted Michigan sportswriter of the year nine times by his peers.

“I’ve come to look at [the streak] as something Ripkenesque,” Green says, with a bow to former major league baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., owner of the major league record for consecutive games played. “I don’t care if I don’t cover anything else all year. [The Super Bowl] is the biggest thing in sports. It’s where anybody who works as a sports journalist wants to be.”

Green’s perfect record makes him part of a small, wise, and aging group that has watched from the press box ever since the Super Bowl began with relative simplicity in 1967. That year, the Green Bay Packers, from the long-established National Football League, met the Kansas City Chiefs, from the upstart American Football League, in a less-than-sold-out Los Angeles Coliseum. In the decades since, Green and his colleagues have watched the event expand into today’s modern-day extravaganza, played before sold-out houses in the biggest sporting venues and watched by millions of football fans around the globe. To some critics the game’s preceding week of hype is Exhibit A of America’s media- and advertising-driven excess.

Green says the Super Bowl’s evolution was beyond anyone’s comprehension in 1967, even that of its founder, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. “At the beginning I thought it would be a World Series–type event,” Green says, “and that it would take years to catch on. Now it has surpassed the World Series. I certainly didn’t think of it as a major extravaganza for which everything would stop on a Sunday in January.” Green has written two books on the subject: Super Bowl Chronicles, whose first edition chronicled his first twenty-five years of on- and off-the-field memories and which was later revised to incorporate five more years of action, incidents, and anecdotes; and Mile-High Memories, which focuses on the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl appearances.

Lately, Green has been Super Bowl subject as well as reporter. “It seems like I’m interviewed as much I do interviews,” he says with a laugh. Green says he will keep up his streak as long as his health holds out. “I’d like to do as many more as I can,” he says. “I’m proud of it. I dread that day when I’m watching it on TV. I don’t know how I’ll react.”

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January / February 2003