We see a dynasty buster on NFL Thursday today, and that means a look at Super Bowl XI, too. We sort of wrote about this tangentially recently, without meaning to spoil it. The trick here always is separate mythos and subjectivity from objectivity and reality. Enjoy the read today, with that in mind: It’s our cross to bear every time out …
(And if you’re wanting to, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl XI MVP: Fred Biletnikoff, WR, Oakland (original), Clarence Davis, RB, Oakland (revised)
The Oakland Raiders finally won the NFL title after a decade of knocking on the door, as they beat the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, making the Vikes four-time losers in the Super Bowl over just a 8-year period (as the 1990s Buffalo Bills say, “Hold our beers!”). The MVP was Oakland wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, one of our personal (objective and subjective) favorites.
Yet he caught 4 passes for 79 yards, which is not a big line. Without scoring, Biletnikoff had one 48-yard reception, and the other three catches were smaller ones. We see both Silver & Black quarterback Ken Stabler (12 for 19, 180 yards, 1 TD) and running back Clarence Davis (16 carries for 137 yards) as better candidates for this award, in truth.
Stabler did a great job spreading the ball around to his three primary targets, but maybe only because of Davis’ running. Overall, Oakland totaled 266 yards on 52 carries—so, the other backs gained just 129 yards on 36 attempts. Davis was the difference maker this day, and therefore, we’re righting this old wrong at the expense of one of our favorites. That’s the way this works, you know. Oh well!
1976 NFL ROTY: Sammy White, WR, Minnesota & Mike Haynes, CB, New England (original); Haynes (revised)
The vote winners for this award were Minnesota WR Sammy White (51 catches for 906 yards and 10 TDs) and New England Patriots cornerback Mike Haynes (8 INTs)—who would later play for the Raiders in a 1980s Super Bowl victory. Other worthy candidates we see are New York Jets fullback Clark Gaines (1,124 scrimmage yards and 5 TDs) and Detroit Lions safety James Hunter (7 INTs).
Anyone else? We’re going to add both Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Gary Burley and Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Steve Niehaus—each of whom had 9.5 sacks. That’s a good collection of players to choose from, and we’ll make first cuts based on postseason access: Detroit (6-8), New York (3-11) and Seattle (2-12) missed the postseason, although so did Cincinnati despite a 10-4 record.
Minnesota (10-3-1) and New England (11-3) were playoff teams by relatively close margins, so we look primarily at White, Haynes, and Burley here. The Vikings had an established star QB in Fran Tarkenton, so we’re thinking White’s value takes a hit there. The Pats improved from 3-11 on the basis of a defense that gave up 122 fewer points than in 1975, so Haynes’ value gets a big boost, accordingly.
The Bengals just missed the postseason, but the defense gave up 36 fewer points after going 11-3 the prior year. So Cincinnati’s “struggles” weren’t defensive, but Haynes’ impact was obviously much greater than Burley’s presence, so we will name him our sole ROTY winner here.