A Super streak comes to an end

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Nothing lasts forever. Even streaks. Especially streaks.

The Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio got a hit in 56 straight games. Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2,632 consecutive baseball games with the Baltimore Orioles. UCLA won 88 basketball games in a row under the guidance of John Wooden.

But one of my favorite streaks is about to come to an end.

They’re going to play Super Bowl LIV Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla.. And for the first time, Jerry Izenberg isn’t going to be there to write about it.

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There are only two writers who have been to every Super Bowl since the Packers beat the Chiefs in 1967 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Izenberg is one. Jerry Green, who covers sports for The Detroit News, is the other. The two are good friends and both are on the back nine of their illustrious Hall of Fame newspaper careers. Neither considers himself a journalist. Both are newspapermen through and through.

Izenberg, now 89 years young, has chronicled the Super Bowl, among other sports, for decades at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. He has been battling health issues the past few years, making it tougher and tougher for him to get around. He lives in Henderson, NV with his wife Aileen and she is a true saint, helping him get where he needs to go.

If you’ve never been to a Super Bowl, it entails a great deal of walking. Everything is spread out. Yes, the NFL provides busses to get the 5,000 or so credentialed media to the events. But you do a lot of schlepping over the course of the week.

Izenberg’s mobility these days isn’t the greatest. He is a proud man. For him, this decision to not get on a plane, fly to Florida, deal with all the crap that comes with covering a Super Bowl (security, press box access, news conferences, etc.) is not an easy one.

He’s still going to cover the game for the Star-Ledger, just like he has since 1967. Except this time, he’s going to do it from a sportsbook. The plan is to hang out at Sunset Station in Henderson, the closest casino to his house.

It’s going to be a little different perspective. But if you’ve ever read Jerry’s work, you know his knowledge of gambling is vast. This is a guy who has been to 55 Kentucky Derbies, though not consecutively, and that annual trip to Louisville may also be in jeopardy come the first Saturday in May.

If you think walking around at the Super Bowl is a chore, it’s far worse traversing the grounds at Churchill Downs. Getting to the barns, going up to the press box to write, it’s a royal pain in the tuchas.

Izenberg will be the first to tell you things are a little different these days in trying to cover the Super Bowl. In the early days, access was easy. Pete Rozelle, then the NFL commissioner, would invite you up to his hotel suite for drinks. Players and coaches would sit with you in the lobby and discuss the game. It was like a close-knit fraternity.

This was before all the zaniness we’ve come to expect with the Super Bowl. The zoo that is media day. The elaborate halftime shows. The postgame extravaganza that is the awarding of the Lombardi Trophy to the winner. But through it all, Izenberg has managed to persevere and do his job, which is to write eloquently and entertain his readers. He’s had to play hurt from time to time, but there’s no medical tent in the press box, so he soldiers on. That’s what newspapermen do.

Izenberg’s not comfortable talking about himself. But he’s very proud of his accomplishments ( He is in 16 different Halls of Fame and the author of 14 books) and he has special memories of all 53 Super Bowls. So pinning him down to give you one moment isn’t realistic.

His one thought he wants to share with you was, “I’m old, not dead. As long as they’ll read me, I’ll write.”

And so he will this week. Except it’ll be from the sportsbook, not the press box. And he’s good with that. After all, he’s endured a lot plying his craft over the decades.

He sat in the sun at the Galt Ocean Mile Hotel in Fort Lauderdale as Joe Namath held court with reporters at the pool before the Jets beat the Colts. He sat in gloomy Tulane Stadium in New Orleans to see Hank Stram’s Chiefs matriculate the ball down a muddy field against the Vikings. He braved icy roads in Atlanta to get inside the Georgia Dome for the Rams’ win over Tennessee. He warded off the sub-zero temperatures in Minneapolis a couple of years ago as the Eagles beat Tom Brady and the Patriots. He sat in the dark as the lights went out in the Superdome early in the second half of the Ravens-49ers game.

He has seen Garo Yepremian try to throw a football, Leon Lett try to run with one and William Perry score a touchdown. He has seen the New York Football Giants, which he has always lovingly referred to as “Mara Tech,” win four Super Bowls. He covered a Super Bowl in his native New Jersey at the Meadowlands.

Something he has never seen? An appearance in the big game by the Cleveland Browns. Or the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. And based on the current state of affairs of those four franchises, he’ll lay 6-to-5 he doesn’t live to see it happen that any of them make it to a Super Bowl. 

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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