The Lost Scrolls of Dr. Z

Sports Illustrated Presents Dr. Z's Greatest Moments in Super Bowl History should be the most famous piece of sportswriting about football, period. So how come you’ve almost certainly never heard of it?
Share |

It appears to have been built to last forever, in a way that books are maybe still made but seldom seem to have been made. Even before you turn a page, the printing tells you it’s special. The pages are huge squares, nearly twice the size of a typical magazine page, and on heavy paper that, for all its heft, seems to command some reverence, a sense that these sturdy pages are still meant to be handled with care. The cover displays the iconic photo of Vince Lombardi, glowing with Super Bowl victory, on board the shoulders of Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer, who looks up adoringly at Lombardi. The staging of it, too, is a little religious. It's all a bit much, maybe, but in that way fitting for a book about the biggest game in the sport that, at least in terms of TV ratings, Americans love most.

The book is Sports Illustrated Presents Dr. Z's Greatest Moments in Super Bowl History, and its author is Paul Zimmerman, who is not a doctor but was known to a generation of Sports Illustrated readers as Dr. Z. Each of Zimmerman's essays are surrounded by glossy color photos from that game, shot by the photographers of Sports Illustrated. There is Joe Namath’s victory trot after Super Bowl III, Lynn Swann’s epic catch and Jackie Smith’s memorable end-zone drop. In short, it seems like a can't-miss, sure-thing classic. That certainly seems to be the intention. On the first page of the 1989 first edition, the editors write, “We envision it as a volume to be saved and savored.”

Today, you can buy it online at Amazon for $3.95, shipping not included.


The Super Bowl's supremacy in the sports culture is fact, as much a given as water being wet and Florida being strange. In 2011, Nielsen estimated that 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the game. The next year, an estimated 111.3 million watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots. There are: celebrities and rumors of celebrities, parties and photos of parties, a great many commercials, increasingly elaborate music-like performances by musicians, the weirdest and loudest patriotism anywhere on television, which is saying something. There is, between all that, also a football game.

Technically, it’s not a holiday. But chances are more Americans celebrate Super Bowl Sunday than the average actual holiday. We do not invite people over, fire up the grill and gather ritualistically around on Columbus Day. We do not read stories in the local newspaper localizing how area residents feel about Washington’s birthday. The Super Bowl is talked about and written about and shouted about a lot, and yet there is somehow always room for more of that. There is certainly room for a book—large-format, handsomely mounted, full of photos—on the game.

And then there's the affection for Dr. Z, who no longer writes after suffering a debilitating stroke in 2008, remains beloved by sportswriters, especially those covering football. Zimmerman attended every Super Bowl for decades. His book from 1970, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football, gets name-dropped today by football writers discussing the smaller nuance of the game, as in “Look at this beautiful piece of advanced offensive line work I'm pointing out, which also is discussed in Paul Zimmerman's Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football.”  The book was updated in 1984, dubbed The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football.

He is beloved by fans of classic magazine Sports Illustrated, the statistics gurus at Football Outsiders and the band of outsiders at Deadspin. There is no arguing about Dr. Z, really. He is so beloved and so respected, that he could in theory write more or less whatever he wanted about the Super Bowl, and it would be not just accepted but widely applauded. He does just that in his essays his Super Bowl essay collection, and that might be why nobody talks about it.


The Super Bowl began inauspiciously, in 1967. It was, at that point, not the Super Bowl—the name would've been presumptuous for a game that didn't sell out and was not widely watched on either of the two television networks that broadcast it, and of which no recording (or official recording) presently exists. The name of the game, at that point, was the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, which Dr. Z makes sure to point out. Sure, he could take this time to tell you about the importance of this first game, discuss all the legends on the field. Instead, Dr. Z tells you about the time Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi—the man whose name is on the trophy awarded to each year's Super Bowl winners—lied to him.

Right, that guy. Lombardi used Dr. Z—then a reporter for the New York Post—to plant a story about a pair of rookies he was going to play in a Packers-Bears game. The story ran. Neither rookie played a down. His anger at Lombardi noted, Dr. Z explains how stoked he was for the game, so much that when his editors tried to get him to cover a basketball game the same day, he wriggled out of the assignment so that he could stay home and watch the game on television. And so we have a legendary coach acting not-so-honest with the press, a junior reporter dodging his assignment and we’re only done with the first essay. Incidentally, or not, the Packers won the game.

But this was a different, smaller Super Bowl; a quirkier essay makes sense, maybe. The essay on Super Bowl II, the last Lombardi won, would be a celebration of his greatness. Instead, Dr. Z peers into the long darkness ahead. After the game, he quotes Lombardi as saying, “The history of the Packers is in the future, as great as it’s been in the past.” Dr. Z responds, in the essay, with a two-word retort, a reminder of the long, championship-free decades that followed.

“Some future.” And then that essay, too, is done.


From there, the tone is set. There will be no glorification of the players we’ve come to accept as heroes. There will be no quotes about overcoming adversity and staring down hardship. There are few stats, fewer glory stories. For all the glorious photos and heavyweight paper stock, a book that has the feel of a sort of secular bible instead reveals itself as a book for a very specific and somewhat cynical football fan.

In contemporary sportswriting, so much of what we consume can come down to two categories: smarts and heart. There are the writers who inundate with stats and jargon, the better to make of readers the most informed viewer possible—impress your friends and colleagues, maybe even guess final scores with better than average accuracy. Or there are writers who seem to move their readers with prose. Feel the adversity, not too much but a little; laugh with surprise at the unexpected—crazy old game, can't predict it, and so on—pick a hero and ride with him, all done in time for dinner. We met Manti Te'o's girlfriend this way. Dr. Z transparently did not give a damn about any of that.

Dr. Z’s collection of Super Bowl essays won’t make you smarter. There is very little in it that will make you sound a genius at a dinner table or water cooler, unless you know someone (not a reporter) who actually cares about how much more accessible athletes were in those early years. There is even less that will make you believe these men are heroes of the gridiron, NFL marketing be damned.


There is, too, very little discussion of individual plays. Heck, Zimmerman barely discusses the games—the actual Super Bowls, that is, that provided all those photos that fill out the book—at all. In Super Bowl IV, his essay is all about the bizarre pre-game accusations linking the Chiefs’ quarterback to a Detroit gambler; he would be proven innocent weeks later. Super Bowl V is deemed a downer because the AFC team was really a transplant from the old NFL, the Baltimore Colts.

Super Bowl VI is a lesson in the silliness of the MVP award, which should have gone to Cowboys running back Duane Thomas but doesn’t, Dr. Z estimates, because he almost never talked to the media, and the winner was expected to give a speech. Instead, Roger Staubach won the award. (Also, the Cowboys won.)

And so on with this agreeable, half-cynical semi-quarrelsomeness. The perfect season by the Miami Dolphins? Dr Z believes the 1948 perfect season by Paul Brown’s 1948 American Football Conference Cleveland Browns is just as good, but that darn NFL just doesn’t want to acknowledge anything from outside its purview. The next Super Bowl he declares a boring game that he barely remembers. Which is fine, since he doesn't write about it very much, instead preferring to discuss how he managed to be the only writer at the event not humiliated by Hunter S. Thompson in print. His trick? He let Thompson enter the betting pool more than once. He later ruminates on how those early 1970s Dolphins teams seemed unstoppable, until they were torn apart by the heftier contracts offered to certain players to switch to the rival World Football League.

There are no lessons, really, and certainly no diagrams of plays or telling statistics or Important Emotional Motivations. There are no life lessons, no saviors, moral or otherwise, whose victory we can savor or defeat we can mourn. You will not find Lombardi giving advice about winning, or the Dolphins ruminating on how to achieve perfection or any musings on what we can take away from all those San Francisco Super Bowl rings. Musings, yes. On those familiar topics, definitely not.


This is a collection of essays for cynical times, a collection that doesn’t embellish the game because the writer knows it is just a game, albeit one that gets more attention than the others. It’s a collection that predates the NFL owning its own cable station, the monstrous PR staffs kept by teams and many of the taxpayer-funded stadiums. And yet there is Dr. Z, in the 1980s, speaking his bitterness at how controlling, corporate and buttoned-up the NFL had become.

Football is brutally unfair, and Dr. Z knows that. The right team doesn’t always or even often make the Super Bowl; it certainly does not necessarily win. The best people, let alone the best players, don’t always get rings. The Super Bowl, for all its pomp and circumstance, is really just another football game, except with higher ticket prices, more media coverage and way more PR folk blasting out press releases, offering opportunities for mini-interviews with bored greats of the game, leveraging synergies, and so on. Underneath all that is something much smaller: men who play a game, and who will—if their bodies allow them to—do so again next season. Public willing, there will be an audience. This is what Dr. Z wrote about, before all that became so impossible to miss, and so heatedly denied.

It's clear that Dr. Z would just as soon forget Super Bowl V—you remember, the downer where the wrong guy won the MVP—but what he remembers about it is telling. In one mass interview, Dr. Z wrote, someone asked rightful MVP Duane Thomas if the Super Bowl was the ultimate game. “Well,” the rookie replied, “they’re playing it next year, aren’t they?”

Share |


This sort of message continually moving and I like to peruse quality substance, so upbeat to discover great spot to numerous here in the post, the composition is simply awesome, a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. designer clothes men

One of the initial phases in this procedure is to decide the sorts of customers the business is searching for and being focusing on them. 100 free twitter followers | clash of clans glitch deutsch

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. wondershare mobiletrans crack

Best Money Lender in Yio Chu Kang A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one. Licensed Money Lender in Singapore

On September 3, 1994, eight-year-old Joel Pearson laced up his sneakers and went for a mile-long run. Every day since—more than 6,500 total—the Bellingham,escorts beirut

Thanks a lot for your guidance and sharing information. Impressive article for our nursing students. fees for private detective

This is to a mind boggling degree informational substance and took off well for a change. It's better than anything typical to see that a few people still perceive how to make a qIn terms of GI Monitor, the product will remain the same as it is now (with the exception of logos/branding) and will continue to improve over timeuality post. Money

I don't make remarks on destinations, nevertheless I'd like to say this article truly constrained me to do in light of current circumstances. view website

This is to a mind boggling degree informational substance and took off well for a change. It's better than anything typical to see that a few people still perceive how to make a quality post ! klusgekte

You created some decent points generally there. I looked on the web for the issue and observed most individuals will accompany with your internet site.

Kik Online

I am persistently chasing online down articles that can offer me some help with invigorating my mind and intrigue my thoughts. Test Pico projecteur

I’m eager to find the valuable information and for me this is the right place to get the good stuff.

I have doubt in keyword choosing system ,if you describe it's briefly in your next update I will glad packers and movers hadapsar pune

Articles are very informative and hope again I’ll find more like that. taxi fare from jaipur to delhi

I have doubt in keyword choosing system ,if you describe it's briefly in your next update I will glad. buy bulk email accounts

I had been trying for the good information and having come to your blog I have found everything which I wanted.
car insurance quotes

This blog has very distinct features. Thanks
short term payday loans

The contemplations of the maker was incredible, an obligation of appreciation is all together for the offer. wireline companies

Hi buddies, it is great written piece entirely defined, continue the good work cheapest life insurance

Thanks for compiling such nicest information in your blogs. Articles are very informative and hope again I’ll find more like that.
Circle of Profit

Hmm!! This blog is really cool, I’m so lucky that I have reached here and got this awesome information.Inbox blueprint

What you presented was well researched and well worded in order to get your stand on this across to all your readers.. inverter prices in nigeria

These are actually wonderful some ideas in the blog. You have touched good quality points here. In whatever way continue writing.
payday loan in saint paul mn open on sunday

I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work.

I am on a to a great degree vital level satisfied by your amazing work.You put genuinely to a magnificent degree satisfying data. Keep it up.

I have learnt various good stuff right here, and I’m sure everyone will get advantage of fusion

But should remark on some general things. The web site style is perfect. the articles is really great. Good jaipur to ajmer taxi

My pleasure to arriving on your blog..I discovered your this post while pursuing down some related data on area search. flatscreen wall mount

I delight in purely examining all of your current information sites. trade alerts

Thankful to you for the post.There is such an extraordinary sum in this article I would never have considered in solitude. Choisir Four a pizza

Personally I think overjoyed I discovered the insurance comapanies for whole life insurance cost

The quality of your articles and contents is great.virginia online payday loan lenders

it teaches men a multitude of techniques and mindsets for meeting, attracting, and other info, visit my website.. cccam server

it teaches men a multitude of techniques and mindsets for meeting, attracting, and other info, visit my website.. cccam server

Pretty! It was really a wonderful blog. Thanks for the provided loans

simple straight forward journalist. Document succeeded all the helpful hints you will bought relating to how to be the journalist and, Now i'm literally truly good located at the noticias

We are still in development and completely rewriting ProjectLibre. It is a long process!wine gift baskets

At this time you can be you need to people I have to chat with; any blog indicate to the whole thing. You need a lot of calm and additionally from knowledge you’ve documented, you definitely be aware of to become a thing or possibly couple of regarding it. Dispatch others reminders using this delight.

best electric weed eater Like you, your lawn needs attention and the best way to give it the beauty it deserves is to use the best electric weed eater to remove troublesome weeds from it. Although there are many weed removers out there on the market, still, getting the right one to do the job correctly is a plus when it comes to beautifying your lawn. For more info, visit site ...

Free porn videos los mejores videos pornos. For more info Free porn videos, please visit web ...

hard sex tube High quality free porn videos in hard sex tube gallery are ready to make you melt down from streaming hot sex movies! And other info, visit my site :)

acompanhantes df Escorts Club o seu site de Acompanhantes e garotas de programa de Brasilia As mais belas Acompanhantes de Luxo do DF. Sinta-se à vontade! Por favor, visite o site ...

free porn PornGeek is the best websites for FREE HD porn videos. Watch and download movies without signing in. FREE HD Porn from Geeks for Geeks. visit ... How To Make A Girl Want You More Than Her Other Suitors. Making a girl want you can be a difficult thing. In fact, just getting her to look your way can seem downright impossible sometimes. But you’re not one to give up, right? However challenging it is to get a woman to fall for you, it CAN be done, and it can actually be a lot of fun if you’re the type who enjoys a challenge. If you’re ready to make a girl want you, keep reading and find out how the following tips can help you get her emotionally and sexually obsessed with you. Please visit ... The Best Way To Fight Male Pattern Baldness Now And In The Future! Male pattern baldness (MPB), scientifically known as Androgenetic Alopecia, affects 70 percent of men before they reach age 70. MPB is associated with a genetic predisposition to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) sensitivity. DHT is a derivative of testosterone and in prone men, it destroys hair follicles along the mid-anterior scalp and temples. Please visit ...

44holidays Welcome to - The UK's Brightest Holiday Comparison Website! 44holidays is a holiday comparison website with live travel comparison searches that makes finding your next holiday easy. Whether you're looking for an all-inclusive holiday or if you're searching for last minute holiday deals and holiday bargains, 44holidays is the only holiday comparison you need! With millions of holiday offers available at any time, including package holidays, skiing holidays, cruises and city breaks, 44holidays is one of the largest travel comparison websites in the UK. From weekends away to city breaks to holidays abroad, 44holidays is your complete travel partner. 44holidays - Where holidays are made! For more info visit at ...

Thane Female Escort Thane Call Girl Rs @ 3500 Girl in Thane Call 08452907412 . It is pure relaxation, breathing body and soul. Thane Outcalls escorts that provide Massage are carefully selected according to which relaxation techniques and massage, education, beauty and ability they possess. You can easily find a charming Sydney escort that can offer you a wonderful experience full of joy, passion, relaxation and excitement. Our escorts are true professionals, they will definitely help you successfully pass the threshold of shyness or inexperience in sensual massage and you will discover that the time spent partaking in a massage escort can be one of the more stimulating experiences. The gorgeous escorts meet all the qualities enjoying physical and perceptual qualities.Call Now 08452907412 . for More info : ... Does Text Your Ex Back Work? Find out if Michael Fiore's Text Your Ex Back 2.0 system really works and read actual customer testimonials and reviews. For more info, Please click here website: ...

memyfriends com There's a myth that only women are self-conscious about their physical appearance. That's definitely not the truth, and you can make a compelling case that men. For more information, please click here site: ...