One Super Bowl that wasn't a Super Bore

GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

The Super Bowl, often dubbed the Super Bore, will capture the imagination of football fans on both sides of the border tonight. Millions will be bet on the outcome of the New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles game and millions of stories will be told in pubs and living rooms across North America.

Though this is Super Bowl XXXIX, fans will be talking about their favourite teams and players of the past like the powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, as well as stars such as Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr.

Just as most of us remember where we were when Team Canada downed the Soviet Union in the eighth and deciding game of the 1972 Super Series in Moscow, I remember where I was in 1973 when a place kicker turned a boring Super Bowl game between the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins into an exciting finish in the last two and a half minutes of the up-to-then Super Bore.

The fellow's name is Garo Yepremian. He was a Cyprus-born haberdasher who excelled in selling specially designed cravats. However, at that time, he also was the designated place kicker for the Dolphins.

At 5-foot-8, Garo was no giant. With less than three minutes remaining in the game and the Dolphins -- a dominant team featuring Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield -- ahead 14-0, Yepremian was called upon to attempt a 42-yard field goal.

Some of the crowd of 85,462 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum already had begun to leave when Earl Morrall, Miami's backup quarterback, held the ball for the kick.

Good, ol' Garo must have been thinking of his specially designed ties because Washington's Bill Brundige was able to block the low kick. Fortunately, or so it seemed at the time, the ball bounced right back to Yepremian. He picked up the ball, but instead of kicking it again, or falling on it, Yepremian decided to attempt to pass it to a teammate. There's a difference between kicking and passing, a fact Yepremian failed to recognize.

He fumbled the ball in the air and his ineffective passing attempt was intercepted by Washington's six-foot-tall cornerback Mike Bass, who trotted almost the length of the football field to score Washington's only touchdown.

"I don't know what happened," Yepremian told me in the overcrowded dressing room. "I kicked it and it was blocked. It came back to me and I reacted by picking it up and wanting to pass it. I should have fallen down on it. I never passed a ball before in my life. I was worried. I gave them seven points on a platter."

A year later, Yepremian showed up in Toronto, but instead of selling cravats, he was peddling World Cup soccer. The blocked kick was still on his mind.

Will he be at Jacksonville for today's big showdown? I don't know. However, I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up selling ties with the logos of the participating teams.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

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