Raiders owner Al Davis receives the Vince Lombardi trophy from commissioner Pete Rozelle.
January 25, 1981
Two years earlier he had been one step from oblivion, a one-time Heisman Trophy winner tarnished before his time.
His record for the 1978 season had been a total blank. Although on the active list for 14 games, he had not played a single down for the Oakland Raiders. In 1979 he had thrown 15 passes as Oakland's backup quarterback.
When the 1980 season started, the former Stanford All-America -- nearly 33 -- was still cast in a backup role. This time he was standing in for Dan Pastorini, acquired from Houston in a trade for Ken Stabler. For Jim Plunkett, the future was as unpromising as his immediate past.
Another year of bench duty was the prospect when, in the fifth game of the season, Pastorini suffered a leg fracture and was forced out of action for the remainder of the season. Suddenly, Plunkett was thrust into the spotlight he had known in 1971 when, as quarterback for the New England Patriots, he was acclaimed the Rookie of the Year in the American Football Conference.
The transition from Pastorini to Plunkett was accomplished without a ripple. The Raiders lost the game in which Pastorini was injured, bowing to Kansas City, 31-17, but the following Sunday, with Plunkett at quarterback, they upset San Diego, 38-24, and then beat Pittsburgh, 45-34, on Monday Night Football. Jim Plunkett and the Oakland Raiders were on their way. Losing only to Philadelphia, 10-7, and to Dallas, 19-13, the Raiders compiled an 11-5 record for the season and qualified for a wild-card berth in the AFC playoffs.
For the season, Plunkett completed 165 passes in 320 attempts, passed for 18 touchdowns and was intercepted 15 times, ranking ninth among AFC quarterbacks.
"I knew we could win with Plunkett," said Tom Flores, second-year coach of the Raiders.
"I was tempted to call it quits and enter private business," recalled Plunkett after he was rescued from the trash heap. New England had traded him to San Francisco in 1976 and he'd been released by the 49ers two weeks before joining Oakland in '78. "But I thought, 'Well, maybe if I give it one more try, things will work out.'
"For the most part, I had faith in my ability. There was a time, after I was released by the 49ers, when I wondered if the coaches were right, that I couldn't do the job anymore. That was the low point, without a doubt.
"But I have some good friends, people I can trust, and they stayed with me. They said, 'Look, you can still play. You've just been stuck in some circumstances which weren't the best. It's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.'
"I had received several offers, but I accepted that of the Raiders, and not necessarily because it was the best."
The 1980 season was not only a year of rebirth for Plunkett, but for the Raiders as well. Picked to finish last in the AFC West in what was to have been a year of rebuilding, the Raiders grew more impressive weekly, climaxing their remarkable development by breezing through the playoffs.
Entering each game as the underdog, the Raiders swept past Houston, 27-7, in the AFC wild-card matchup and then won at Cleveland, 14-12, and at San Diego, 34-27, to earn their third Super Bowl invitation and second in five years.
The Philadelphia Eagles, with a 12-4 season record, defeated Minnesota, 31-16, and Dallas, 20-7, to qualify for their first Super Bowl. The Eagles had not contested for a title since 1960 when they won the NFL championship.
To many, Super Bowl XV represented a clash of good and evil, the clean-cut, well-mannered Eagles against the unfettered, rowdy Raiders, whose individual lifestyles covered all shades of the spectrum.
The differences in training philosophies was apparent from the start of Super Bowl week in New Orleans. While the Eagles were confined to quarters, concentrating wholly on the business at hand, the Oakland officials preferred a "situation normal" atmosphere, permitting the players to sample the nocturnal attractions in the City That Care Forgot.
After their first night on the town, Plunkett reported, "We cruised the French Quarter, but we didn't see any Eagles."
The Raiders did not intend, however, that the relaxed discipline should extend beyond the 11 p.m. curfew and embrace all-night revelries on Bourbon Street.
Shortly after arriving in New Orleans, John Matuszak proclaimed himself a one-man committee for the enforcement of good conduct and high morals.
"I'm going to see that there's no funny business," announced the 6-8, 280-pound defensive end. "I've had enough parties for 20 people's lifetimes. I've grown up. I'll keep our young fellows out of trouble. If any players want to stray, they gotta go through Ol' Tooz."
A night later, Ol' Tooz was spotted dancing with the wife of Charley Conerly, former New York Giants quarterback, at 1 a.m., and at 3 a.m., four hours after curfew, he still was going strong with another female partner. Clearly, the enforcement committee was working overtime, even though he realized an automatic $1,000 fine would follow.
But Ol' Tooz was the exception. Raymond Chester, for one, presented a different view.
"Everybody talks about how loose we are," said the veteran tight end, "but I don't think any team works harder than we do.
"I watched films in my room until 2 a.m. last night. People who call us a bunch of misfits don't know us."
Matt Millen, a rookie from Penn State, shared Chester's intensity.
"I told the guys," said the inside linebacker, "I've been in the league too long to let this chance slip away. You guys better produce."
More than just a Raider success symbol, Super Bowl XV also represented a major triumph for Flores, who had graduated to the head coaching job at Oakland after seven seasons as an assistant to John Madden.
The son of Mexican-American farm laborers who followed the fruit harvests through California, Flores rode a bumpy route to the summit. A graduate of the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., he failed to make the grade in the Canadian Football League and with the Washington Redskins before he was rescued by the infant American Football League in 1960.
Following a 10-year AFL career with Oakland, Buffalo and Kansas City, Flores served one season as an assistant coach at Buffalo before joining the Oakland staff.
As the first Chicano to coach in the Super Bowl, Flores felt "very good and proud" for what that accomplishment meant to other members of the Latin community. "I can sense there are people who care about what I do," he noted. "It means something to be recognized by your people, the people who share your background."
A placid, subdued type, Flores could, nevertheless, jest about the relative lack of attention shown to him. At one press interview session he began his introductory remarks with: "I'm Tom Flores, coach of the other team."
As a coach, Flores did not attempt to convert the free-spirited Raiders into choirboys.
"Tom doesn't say much," reported Gene Upshaw, 14-year veteran who played on Oakland's first Super Bowl team in 1968. "He just cuts off your wallet. When we came to New Orleans he told us every mistake, every missed curfew, would cost us a flat one thousand dollars."
According to reports, some fun-loving Raiders had their wallets trimmed by $15,000 during their stay in the Crescent City.
"We play cards in the locker room, we shoot dice," Upshaw continued. "This is a party, but if Tom sent everyone home who screwed up he'd be the only one on the sidelines when the game started. There comes a time for the party to end."
Like Flores, Eagles Coach Dick Vermeil was a Californian, a native of Calistoga. After receiving his bachelor's and master's degrees at San Jose State, Vermeil worked his way up the coaching ladder, moving from high school, to junior college, to assistant's positions at Stanford and UCLA, to three years as an aide to George Allen with the Los Angeles Rams to two years as head coach at UCLA.
He owed his position with the Eagles, according to a popular story, to the way he walked off the field after the Rose Bowl game on January 1,1976.
Eagles Owner Leonard Tose and General Manager Jim Murray had been screening candidates to succeed Mike McCormack as coach and, to break the routine, watched UCLA upset Ohio State, 23-10, on national television. "I remember watching him walk off the field," recalled Tose. "There was something in his manner that suggested the type of leadership we were looking for."
Fortified by a five-year contract that has since been extended to "a lifetime contract," Vermeil took over a Philadelphia club that had not had a winning season since 1968, had not had a first-round draft choice since 1973 -- when it selected offensive lineman Jerry Sisemore of Texas and tight end Charle Young of USC -- and would not have another first-round selection until 1979.
"The team's morale was low and it had very little physical talent," Vermeil remembered. "If the team had had some talent, it probably would have won some games and the job would not have been open."
In Vermeil's first season of stewardship, the Eagles matched their 4-10 record of the previous year. They finished at 5-9 in 1977, 9-7 in '78 and 11-5 in '79, when they were eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A tyrant and slave-driver to some, a genius and miracle worker to others, Vermeil injected his own determination and dedication into a club that included 16 free agents in 1980.
An offensive coach himself, Vermeil had entrusted the team's defensive strategy to Marion Campbell, former All-Pro end with the Eagles and one-time head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Under Campbell's direction, the Eagles' defense developed into the toughest in the NFC.
One of Vermeil's most important moves in rebuilding the Eagles occurred on March 10, 1977, when he acquired quarterback Ron Jaworski from the Los Angeles Rams. By 1980 Jaworski ranked as the No. 1 quarterback and the Player of the Year in the NFC. In the regular season, he completed 257 passes, including 27 for touchdowns, in 451 attempts.
Vermeil and Flores were not strangers. When Vermeil was a split-T quarterback at San Jose State in 1957, Flores was one of the nation's leading passers and a Vermeil rival at College of the Pacific. When Jim Plunkett was a sophomore at Stanford, in 1968, Vermeil was his quarterback coach.
The clash of the conference champions in the Superdome on January 25 shaped up, in the opinions of most observers, as a replay of the November 23 engagement in which the Eagles defeated the Raiders, 10-7, at Philadelphia.
One scout predicted, "There won't be much scoring, if any, in the first two or three periods, but eventually the Raiders will win."
Tom Landry, whose Dallas Cowboys had beaten the Raiders and lost two of three games to Philadelphia, predicted, "You won't see any scoring until one of the teams makes a breakthrough in field position. The offensive teams will be muffled until something happens."
Norm Pollom, director of scouting for the Buffalo Bills, conceded that "The Eagles have the two big guns, Wilbert Montgomery and Harold Carmichael, but the Raiders have better balance and they've been there before."
Being there before (in 1977 and '68) was regarded popularly as an edge for the Raiders, as was the fact that they had played a relatively tougher schedule, including games with Pittsburgh, Buffalo and San Diego.
In addition, the AFC teams had won the interconference series for the season, 33 to 19, and in three seasons held a superiority of
100 to 56.
In the days preceding the game, speculation grew over whether, if the Raiders won, Commissioner Pete Rozelle would present the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Al Davis, the team's managing general partner.
For months the two had been at each other's throat over Davis' efforts to move the Raiders to Los Angeles, vacated by the Rams in favor of Anaheim, 40 miles distant.
Maintaining that he needed the greater capacity of the Los Angeles Coliseum, as well as other benefits, to remain competitive, Davis challenged the NFL constitution and 27 other owners in his determination to transfer to the more lucrative market. At the time of Super Bowl XV, the case was in the courts.
Initially, said Rozelle, he regarded Davis as merely a "charming rogue." Lately, the Oakland owner had become an "outlaw."
There were some "outlaws" roaming the streets of New Orleans, too -- poorly disguised as ticket scalpers. Ducats were selling for $500 apiece in midweek but were available for $250 the day before the game. Face value was $40. The vice squad made seven arrests for scalping and confiscated 17 tickets.
In addition to the 75,500 who jammed the Superdome, the game was viewed by an estimated 100 million on 222 outlets of the NBC network.
Commercial time on TV sold for $350,000 a minute. Gross receipts totaled approximately $12,650,000, more than double the $6 million that NBC paid for the rights.
An extra dash of color was added to the Superdome for the championship game in the form of a yellow bow 80 feet long and 30 feet wide erected over the main entrance. This bow, and 80,000 miniature bows distributed to the spectators and media as they entered the stadium, commemorated the return of 52 Americans who had been held hostage for 444 days after the Iranians took over the United States embassy in Tehran. Their release had been announced on January 20, the same day that Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as 40th President of the United States.
Throughout their captivity, a yellow ribbon had served as a national symbol of remembrance for the hostages.
The honor of performing the coin flip to open the game was accorded Mrs. Vince Lombardi, widow of the coach whose Green Bay teams had won the first two Super Bowls.
Asked what she thought her late husband would have said if he had seen her at midfield, Mrs. Lombardi quipped, "He'd probably have said, 'What the hell's a woman doing on the field?' "
The Eagles called the coin toss correctly and ran off two plays from scrimmage before, on a first-and-10 at his 35-yard line, Jaworski attempted his first pass of the day. The toss was intended for tight end John Spagnola, but was picked off by Rod Martin, outside right linebacker in Oakland's 3-4 defensive alignment. Martin returned 17 yards, to the Philadelphia 30.
Like Plunkett, Martin was a San Francisco discard. He was drafted on the 12th round by the Raiders out of USC in 1977, but the Raiders, just off a Super Bowl victory, were well stocked with linebackers and traded the rookie to the 49ers.
However, he was released after two weeks. Offered jobs by several clubs, he accepted the Oakland bid "because they're the club I always wanted to play with."
After the turnover, two running plays netted the Raiders two yards, but on third down, Eagles right end Carl Hairston was ruled offside, a penalty that Oakland converted into a first down when fullback Mark van Eeghen gained four yards on the right side to the Eagles 19.
A 14-yard pass to wide receiver Cliff Branch carried the Raiders to the Eagles 5-yard line and, on third-and-goal from the 2, Plunkett passed to Branch alone in the end zone for the first score of the game. Matt Bahr's conversion gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 6:04 elapsed.
"Bob Chandler was the primary receiver on the play," revealed Branch. "Plunkett scrambled, saw me get open and hit me."
The Eagles were unable to move past their 34 on their second possession and Max Runager's punt carried to the Oakland 20, from where Ira Matthews returned it two yards.
The Raiders were stymied on three running plays and the Eagles also came up short on their next possession, although it appeared momentarily as though they had tied the score on a 40-yard Jaworski pass to wide receiver Rodney Parker in the end zone.
When Super Bowl IV was played at New Orleans' Tulane Stadium in 1970, Parker had been in the stands as an usher. The touchdown pass in the Super Bowl could have been the most memorable moment of his first NFL season, but the play was nullified by an illegal motion penalty against wide receiver Carmichael.
Runager's punt with 1:06 remaining in the quarter gave the Raiders the ball on their 14. Two plays gained six yards to the 20 before Plunkett, chased out of the pocket, spotted running back Kenny King near the sideline at the 39 and tossed a pass that seemed destined for interception by Herman Edwards.
The cornerback was well positioned, but the ball slipped untouched into the hands of King who, escorted by Chandler, sprinted the rest of the way to complete an 80-yard scoring play, the longest in Super Bowl history.
"The play wasn't designed for me to go deep," explained King, who had caught 22 passes during the season but none for a touchdown, although he did grab a scoring pass in the AFC championship game. "I'm supposed to go six yards upfield and cut for the sidelines, but when I saw Jim looking upfield I broke up the sideline. I didn't hear any footsteps behind me, and Chandler kept up with me stride for stride. I didn't know he was that fast."
King's touchdown and Bahr's PAT made the score 14-0 with nine seconds left in the first quarter. Tony Franklin's 30-yard field goal produced the first Philadelphia points at 4:32 of the second quarter. Neither team scored again in the period, although each drove within field goal range. Bahr missed from 45 yards away and Franklin's attempt from 28 yards out with 54 seconds left in the half was blocked by linebacker Ted Hendricks.
"That was probably the easiest blocked kick of my life," reported the 6-7 Hendricks, known as the Mad Stork. "I didn't even penetrate, just stepped up there and jumped."
The Raiders required only six plays to increase their 14-3 lead at the start of the second half. Starting on their 24, the AFC champions were forced back to their 14 on a holding penalty against tackle Henry Lawrence. The setback proved only temporary as van Eeghen gained eight yards, a pass to King picked up 13, another aerial to Chandler netted 32 and a van Eeghen run to the right added four, carrying to the Philadelphia 29.
On second down from the 29, Plunkett passed toward the goal line, and Branch outwrestled rookie cornerback Roynell Young for the football at the 1-yard line and twisted into the end zone. Bahr's third conversion gave the Raiders a comfortable 21-3 lead with 2:36 gone in the period.
"I misread the coverage and threw the ball short, hoping that Cliff either would knock the ball down or make a great catch," said Plunkett.
"It was a championship catch," said Vermeil before expressing his disappointment that the Raiders were allowed to score so easily.
"We weren't picking on Young," declared Branch. "At Oakland we're taught to go for the football. I don't think of Young as a rookie. I think he's their best cornerback."
The next Philadelphia possession again ended in disaster, spelled Rod Martin. The linebacker intercepted a pass intended for Spagnola and stepped out of bounds at the Oakland 32 after a two-yard return.
Eight plays later, Bahr kicked his second field goal, a 46-yarder, with 10:25 elapsed, and the Raiders enjoyed a 24-3 advantage. Plunkett had passed for 16 yards to Chester and 17 yards to Chandler to set up the field goal.
With 4:35 remaining in the period, the Eagles mounted another drive and, featuring a 43-yard Jaworski pass to wide receiver Charles Smith, marched from their 12 to the Oakland 5 as the third quarter ended.
Set back by an offside penalty, the Eagles scored on the fourth play of the fourth period when Jaworski connected with tight end Keith Krepfle from eight yards out.
Bahr's 35-yard field goal climaxed a 12-play, 72-yard drive on the next Oakland series and concluded the game's scoring, although not the illustrious performance by Martin.
With less than three minutes remaining, Jaworski, forced to pass on every play, attempted to hit running back Billy Campfield, but once again Martin intervened, making a record third interception.
"If they throw the ball in my area 15 times, it figures I'll catch it two or three times," said Martin. "They stay away from Ted Hendricks (left outside linebacker) and Lester Hayes (left cornerback who led the NFL in interceptions) and I don't blame 'em."
Jaworski had been intercepted only 12 times during the 16-game regular season, but seven of his passes were picked off in three playoff games.
Candidates for the Most Valuable Player award were numerous, but the prize went to Plunkett. His 13 completions for 261 yards and three touchdowns in 21 passes overshadowed the contributions of all others.
The Eagles ran off 64 offensive plays to 55 for the Raiders and also led in time of possession. But the "big play" Raiders were, as the scout had pointed out before the game, better balanced. They gained 117 yards on the ground to 69 for the Eagles, and Plunkett's air yards were only 30 fewer than those of Jaworski.
The Raiders were champions of the football universe and now Rozelle would have to present the championship trophy to Davis in the Oakland locker room before the conquering Raiders and countless millions of TV viewers.
Despite a sportscaster's efforts to fan hostile flames, the presentation was made smoothly, although one observer noted, tongue in cheek, that Rozelle gripped the trophy with both hands so as to preclude a handshake.
The commissioner said to Davis: "As the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl, it's a tremendous compliment to the organization because you had to win four postseason games. It's a great tribute to you for putting this team together and I think that Tom Flores clearly did one of the great coaching jobs in recent years. It's a credit to some marvelously dedicated athletes, especially Jim Plunkett and the offensive line. You've earned it and congratulations."
"Thank you, commissioner," began Davis. "When you look back on the glory of the Oakland Raiders, this was our finest hour. To Tom Flores, the coaches and the great athletes, you were magnificent. Your commitment to excellence and your will to win will endure forever."
To Tom Flores, the keys to the victory were the blocked Philadelphia field goal and "our scoring on the first possession of the second half. If they had made the field goal it might have given them momentum."
Flores also cited the protection (up to four seconds) that the offensive line provided Plunkett. "We felt that if we could give Jim good pass protection, we could throw the ball," he said. "We had certain things planned against Herman Edwards and Roynell Young, but we felt we could throw against the entire defense. The Eagles use the nickel defense on third down, so that's why we passed so often on first and second down.
"We also knew we had to be solid against Wilbert Montgomery and the Eagles' running game, and we used a couple of new stunts to get to Jaworski."
Jaworski was never sacked, but he had to hurry many passes and finished 18-for-38 for the game.
The difference between the Raiders' loss to the Eagles in November and their Super Bowl triumph was, said Flores, "pass blocking. It was outstanding. After the Eagles sacked us eight times, the challenge was there. The offensive line studied the films upside down and sideways. They were well prepared this time."
Dick Vermeil refused to hide behind excuses, declaring flatly, "The Raiders deserve to be world champions. They beat us soundly. They dominated us."
Vermeil was inflexible in his praise of the Raiders. When he was asked if the Raiders' Super Bowl experience might have been a factor in the outcome of the game, he snapped, "I don't buy that. That's nothing but an excuse for losing. We got our butts whipped."
While admitting he thought "the game would be tighter, more physical on our part," Vermeil added, "but I think they're just better than we are."
On several occasions, Vermeil noted, it appeared the Eagles were about to mount an offensive that might have influenced the score, if not the final result.
"We had a little something going in the second quarter," he said, "but then Tony Franklin's field goal attempt was blocked. We go in at halftime with three points instead of six.
"We had a nice play action pass to Keith Krepfle where he was wide open and ran into the umpire.
"For some reason I didn't think we were flying around the field like we usually do, but maybe that's a misjudgment. The truth probably is that individually they were doing a better job."
The players' intensity, Vermeil pointed out, was not as pronounced as he had expected, although in pregame workouts his assistants told him, "They're intense, they're banging, they're excited."
In the game, said the coach, "I didn't see us jumping up and down and flying and swarming. But maybe that's because Oakland wouldn't let us.
"A lot of credit has been given to me for getting the Eagles here, so I should assume some of the responsibility for not winning the game."
Jaworski insisted the Eagles were ready to play, "although we didn't show it." The quarterback said he "sensed a lack of emotion during the game and it never seemed to get stronger."
Of his three interceptions, Jaworski said, "Rod Martin is a good player, but he becomes even better when he doesn't have to worry about the rush."
The second of Martin's interceptions occurred when the Eagles trailed 21-3, the third when they trailed 27-10.
For Martin, his glittering performance climaxed a week of remarkable activity, starting with a three-handed card game with Hendricks and Jeff Barnes.
"We played Crazy Eights all year, all the time," he revealed. "The object is to get rid of all your cards. It's a tough game.
"If you win three games in a row, it's called a Triple Crown, which we named for John Matuszak's favorite drink.
"Last week I had two Triple Crowns and that's hard to do. Hendricks kidded me, 'Why don't you do that in the game on Sunday?' When we were getting dressed today, Ted said, 'Hey, get that Triple Crown today, this is the day.'
Martin had other indications that his hot hand would extend into the Super Bowl. On the West Coast his sister Carolyn had a feeling that Rod would intercept a pass and, on the flight to New Orleans, a fellow passenger expressed the same hunch.
When Carolyn told her brother about the premonitions, he had replied, "Look, I don't make that many interceptions. I made only two all season."
At such moments when Martin was not playing cards or attending to football business on the practice field, he was frequently in his room watching game films long after curfew. The late-hour cramming paid off.
Martin explained his interceptions in this manner: "On the first, Carmichael ran a streak pattern and tried to hook behind me. They threw to my inside and I caught the ball with my left hand. On the second, I just got a good jump on the ball. I knew with us in the lead they weren't going to abandon their game plan. On the third, we were in a prevent defense and all the receivers were well covered."
Of all the accolades distributed to the victorious Raiders, none were so numerous or so lavish as those bestowed on Plunkett.
"I can't say enough about him," volunteered Flores. "He met every challenge this season with style and class. He has great competitive spirit and deserves all the credit in the world.
"His career has a lot of ups and downs. During the bad years he took all the criticism and never said a word. He's not the type to point his finger and say, 'I told you so.' He has great courage."
It was Flores, then an assistant coach, who recommended that the Raiders sign Plunkett in 1978, following his release by San Francisco.
"Plunkett is the most efficient quarterback I've ever played with," offered Cliff Branch, a favorite target of Ken Stabler during The Snake's heyday with Oakland. "He can take off and scramble and that gives a team a lot of sting. Stabler could get the ball deep, but the key to stopping Stabler is putting pressure on him because he can't maneuver. Plunkett is the leader we didn't have when Pastorini was in there. Dan didn't know the Oakland system, but Plunkett knows it. He was behind Stabler for two years and learned the system.
"They said Jim didn't have it anymore, but all he needed was good people around him. We gave 'em to him."
Davis chided the media for making too big a story out of Plunkett's heroics. "Jim always was a great player," declared the Oakland owner. "What he has done is a great story, but reporters are making too big a thing out of it. He was never anything but a fine quarterback."
Modestly, Plunkett tossed compliments to his offensive line that permitted only one sack. That occurred when Plunkett, forced out of the pocket, attempted to run and was tackled a yard short of the line of scrimmage.
"I don't think I'm playing any better than I did in San Francisco," he said. "I still have the same confidence, and I was just given the opportunity to play, and I'm with a better team.
"It means a lot when the defense gets you a turnover early in the game. You can start being aggressive and we were able to stay aggressive with those interceptions. Our defense won the game.
"Do I feel vindicated?" he responded to a question. "No, not really. Vindication implies bitterness and I don't feel bitterness toward anybody."
"Suppose," Plunkett was asked, "somebody had told you in September that you would be the MVP of the Super Bowl, what would you have said?"
"I wasn't even the starting quarterback then," he replied. "The idea would have been too far-fetched. I couldn't have believed it."
Nor would Plunkett have believed that he, like all Raiders, would be wealthier by $35,000 at 9 p.m. on January 25. The new world champions received $3,000 for their wild-card victory over Houston, $5,000 for beating Cleveland, $9,000 for beating San Diego in the conference playoff and $18,000 for defeating Philadelphia.
The Eagles received $23,000 apiece. Had they won Super Bowl XV, they would have received only $32,000 because they did not play a wild-card game.