Excerpt from the novel The Forgotten Liars

By Timothy Horrigan

Copyright © 2004-2005 Timothy Horrigan

 This page is devoted to an excerpt from Tim Horrigan's novel The Forgotten Liars, set in 1980 at the time of Super Bowl XIV. The Steelers beat the Rams, XXXI to XIX. Some other stuff you might want to check out:

Before going back uptown to West 121st Street, we bought a Sunday Times. I was surprised to discover that (in all the uproar of the night) we had almost forgotten about a major national holiday: the Super Bowl. "Looks like another dull one," I complained. The game pitted a powerful Pittsburgh Steelers team versus a mediocre Los Angeles Rams team (who went 9-7 in the regular season, but scored a couple of lucky victories in the playoffs over Dallas and Tampa Bay.) "Looks like a rout."
      "The game last year was exciting," Victor Shoberg pointed out. (That was the manic 35-31 Pittsburgh victory that would've been a 38-35 Cowboy victory if veteran tight end Jackie Smith had not inexplicably dropped an incredibly easy Danny White pass in the end-zone.)
      "Yeah, but that was an exception."


      Around noon, I was lying on my bed, staring at the cracks in the ceiling (which failed to outline a map of Michigan) when the phone rang. In the next room, an unfamiliar voice (a deep, musical voice with a subtle but distinct Texan flavor to it) said, "Tyler P. Gorse speaking.... Oh, yes, he's here. Who's calling... Frosty? I wasn't sure if I heard it right the first time, y'know.... BILL? THAT'S YOUR NAME, ISN'T IT?"
      I groaned, and slowly rose to my feet. Tyler from Tyler carried the phone over to my bedroom door, which opened into the living room.
      "Hey, Billy, who's that Tyler Gorse fellow?" Frosty Griggs asked me.
      "I don't know. He's a friend of my roommate, I think," I said. "How are you feeling, Frosty? I feel so guilty about abandoning you last night."
      "Oh, it's all right, though I could've used you. It was quite a night," Frosty said. (I never found out all the details of his "quite a night.")
      "It was quite a night for me, too. What are you doing for the Super Bowl, man?"
      "The same question I was going to ask you, Billy Boy. Persefone has the idea, Odell and I think it's maybe sort of dumb, but anyway Persefone has this idea, and you know how Persefone is when she has an idea."
      "I like it when she has ideas," I said, a bit too lovesickly.
      "It's not that sort of an idea, you boobus! No, what Persefone was thinking of is maybe having Sunday teas at the apartment, and she thought she'd kick things off with a special Super Bowl tea."
      "A Super Bowl tea?" I said. "What do you mean exactly, Frosty?"
      "Well, Bill, our buddy Persefone wants to make some coffee cake and cucumber sandwiches, but you know how it is, Bill we can still have the more traditional football fare like beer and pretzels, too. So, come around three, if you like, and Victor can come, too, and so can that strange-looking little girlfriend of his, and even Tyler P. Gorse, whoever he is."
      "Can I bring him even if I don't find out who he is?"
      "Oh sure. It would be more fun that way!"


      Before heading over to Persefone's place, I called Byron to find out what was going on. (Byron was the Pop People's protocol expert.) "It's gonna be fun," he told me. "Tammi and the whole crowd will be there. Bring something to eat a can of cocktail peanuts, maybe." So, I bought some cocktail peanuts (Goya, instead of the usual Planters) at a bodega on Amsterdam Avenue.
      When I finished climbing the five flights of stairs to Persefone's apartment on the northernmost portion of Claremont Avenue, I discovered a couple dozen hipsters (including Tammi, but not Chad) dancing to the beat of James Brown's "Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud!" while the pre-game hoopla continued unwatched (with the sound down) on Persefone's TV.
      Frosty said, "Byron already brought some cocktail peanuts, but I'm sure we can use some more."
      For some obscure reason, a four-man film crew from French TV was crawling crabwise around the apartment (looking a bit like acting students doing a Machine exercise), conspicuously making themselves inconspicuous. The film crew was apparently trying to get some shots of typical rich white kids dancing smugly up on Morningside Heights whilst Harlem decayed unnoticed beneath them. Footage of Persefone making deviled eggs (for example) was going to be juxtaposed with footage of bag-ladies rummaging through the garbage cans on 125th Street. (The fact that today was Super Sunday was very important, since the film-crew's bosses were planning to use American Football as a metaphor for the inhumane, warlike nature of the American military-industrial complex.)
      I happened to have brought my trusty old Nikkormat camera with me, so I went ahead and took some still-photos for my personal collection. Persefone ran up to me and shouted, "What are you doing, Billy? If they see you doing that, they'll think we're self-indulgent and apolitical!"
      "But, Persefone," I protested, "we are self-indulgent and apolitical."
      "You se fou, Billy!" she retorted.
      Persefone forgot that she was wired for sound with a wireless mike, so the film crew's soundman was making a tape of everything she said. And, she had no way of knowing that the talking-head image of her reproving me had been abruptly transformed (through a quick focus-shift) into an image of Victor Shoberg, Sabrina Narkle, and Tyler P. Gorse walking down the hallway of the apartment, swigging from a gallon jug of Jack Daniels while wearing Bush for President sweatshirts and chanting "Bush! Bush! Bush! Bush! Freedom works! Why don't you?"

      The film crew left during the first quarter: they needed to get some additional Super Sunday shots at the West End Cafe. (The West End is apparently significantly more famous in Paris than in New York, because a lot of the lesser-known jazz-musicians who play the Jazz Room at the West End are not lesser-known in Paris.)
      The 1980 Super Bowl turned out to be pretty exciting. The Steelers started out strong, but then the pesky Rams responded with a surprising rally. I don't know how the Rams stayed so close to the 1979 Steelers (I say "1979" because the 1980 Super Bowl was held to determine the champion of the 1979 season.) The Steelers had many Hall of Famers on their team, whereas the only guys on the 1979 Rams that you ever heard of would be defensive lineman Fred Dryer and wide receiver Dante Wingfield. And you probably only heard of Fred Dryer because (after retiring from the NFL) he went on to star on a popular cops-and-robbers show on TV in the mid-1980's called Hunter.
      Astoundingly, the Rams were ahead 19 to 17 at the end of the third quarter. The cameraman underneath the Goodyear Blimp hovering over the Rose Bowl caught probably the most beautiful shot (aesthetically speaking) in Super Bowl history during the brief pause between the third and fourth quarters. It was sunset in Southern California the glow of the setting sun reflected subtly off the San Gabriel Mountains. Inside the Rose Bowl, the floodlit multitude glittered like an equivalent number of precious stones (over 100,000 precious stones) surrounding the lush green football field. The camera zoomed down towards the field, and you could actually see the individual Rams players running full-speed from one end of the field to the other with their fists held high in exultation- and it wasn't just 11 players running down the field, it was the whole contingent of 47 players!- and the hometown Rams fans held their fists high in exultation, too- and well, it was all just too incredibly beautiful to describe, even if you were cheering for the Steelers (who scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.)

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A Few Random Notes

  1. Super Bowl XIV was the first Super Bowl with a home team, i.e., the Los Angeles Rams. However, the 1979-1980 Los Angeles Rams did not play at the Rose Bowl: at the time, they played a few miles down the Pasadena Freeway at the L.A. Coliseum. (The next season, they moved to Anaheim, and they later moved to Saint Louis.) The only other Super Bowl with a home team was Super Bowl XIX in 1985, held at the old Stanford Stadium on the campus of Stanford University. (However, the 1984-1985 San Francisco 49ers played their home games at Candlestick Park. A few years later, in 1989, they would move temporarily to Stanford while earthquake damge to Candlestick was being repaired.)

  2. In my novel The Forgotten Liars, Tammi Honig's father— the legendary slag magnate Gerard J. Honig— is a part-owner of the Detroit Lions. Mr. Honig is now (as of the summer of 2006) an active gentleman in his mid-70s, who still owns his piece of the Lions. In spite of Mr. Honig's untiring support, the Lions are one of a handful of teams which have never played in the Super Bowl. However, the 2006 game, Super Bowl XL, was played at their home stadium, Ford Field.

  3. Super Bowl XIV was the first Super Bowl where a major household appliance played: i.e., Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams (who is better-known as an actor.) VI years later, another appliance appeared in Super Bowl XX: the unforgettable Chicago Bears defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry.

  4. The Steelers' head coach Chuck Noll set a record at Super Bowl XIV which still stands: this was his 4th Super Bowl ring.

The Box Score

I may as well reprint the box score here. And I might mention that Billy McEwan, the narrator of The Forgotten Liars is a great afficionado of box scores.

Super Bowl XIV

Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles 19

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

January 20, 1980

Attendance: 103,985

Los Angeles 7 6 6 0 -- 19
Pittsburgh 3 7 7 14 -- 31

PIT- FG Bahr 41, 7:29 1st
LA- Bryant 1 run (Corral kick), 12:16 1st
PIT- Harris 1 run (Bahr kick), 2:08 2nd
LA- FG Corral 31, 7:39 2nd
LA- FG Corral 45, 14:46 2nd
PIT- Swann 47 pass from Bradshaw (Bahr kick),
2:48 3rd
LA- R. Smith 24 pass from McCutcheon
(kick failed), 4:45 3rd
PIT- Stallworth 73 pass from Bradshaw (Bahr kick),
2:56 4th
PIT- Harris 1 run (Bahr kick), 13:11 4th

Total First Downs 16 19
Rushing 6 8
Passing 9 10
Penalty 1 1
Total Net Yardage 301 393
Total Offensive Plays 59 58
Avg. Gain per Offensive Play 5.1 6.8
Rushes 29 37
Yards Gained Rushing (Net) 107 84
Average Yards per Rush 3.7 2.3
Passes Attempted 26 21
Passes Completed 16 14
Had Intercepted 1 3
Tackled Attempting to Pass 4 0
Yards Lost Attempting to Pass 42 0
Yards Gained Passing (Net) 194 309
Punts 5 2
Average Distance 44.0 42.5
Punt Returns 1 4
Punt Return Yardage 4 31
Kickoff Returns 6 5
Kickoff Return Yardage 79 162
Interception Return Yardage 21 16
Fumbles 0 0
Own Fumbles Recovered 0 0
Opponent Fumbles Recovered 0 0
Penalties 2 6
Yards Penalized 26 65
Total Points Scored 19 31
Touchdowns 2 4
Rushing 1 2
Passing 1 2
Returns 0 0
Extra Points 1 4
Field Goals 2 1
Field Goals Attempted 2 1
Safeties 0 0
Third-Down Efficiency 5/14 9/14
Fourth-Down Efficiency 1/2 0/0
Time of Possession 29:31 30:29


Rushing Los Angeles No. Yds. LG TD Tyler 17 60 39 0 Bryant 6 30 14 1 McCutcheon 5 10 6 0 Ferragamo 1 7 7 0 Pittsburgh No. Yds. LG TD Harris 20 46 12 2 Bleier 10 25 9 0 Bradshaw 3 9 6 0 Thornton 4 4 5 0 Passing Los Angeles Att. Comp. Yds. TD Int. Ferragamo 25 15 212 0 1 McCutcheon 1 1 24 1 0 Pittsburgh Att. Comp. Yds. TD Int. Bradshaw 21 14 309 2 3 Receiving Los Angeles No. Yds. LG TD Waddy 3 75 50 0 Bryant 3 21 12 0 Tyler 3 20 11 0 Dennard 2 32 24 0 Nelson 2 20 14 0 D. Hill 1 28 28 0 R. Smith 1 24 24t 1 McCutcheon 1 16 16 0 Pittsburgh No. Yds. LG TD Swann 5 79 47t 1 Stallworth 3 121 73t 1 Harris 3 66 32 0 Cunningham 2 21 13 0 Thornton 1 22 22 0 Interceptions Los Angeles No. Yds. LG TD Elmendorf 1 10 10 0 Brown 1 6 6 0 Perry 1 -1 1 0 Thomas 0 6 6 0 Pittsburgh No. Yds. LG TD Lambert 1 16 16 0 Punting Los Angeles No. Avg. LG Blk. Clark 5 44.0 59 0 Pittsburgh No. Avg. LG Blk. C. Colquitt 2 42.5 50 0 Punt Returns Los Angeles No. FC Yds. LG TD Brown 1 0 4 4 0 Pittsburgh No. FC Yds. LG TD Bell 2 0 17 11 0 Smith 2 0 14 7 0 Kickoff Returns Los Angeles No. Yds. LG TD E. Hill 3 47 27 0 Jodat 2 32 16 0 Andrews 1 0 0 0 Pittsburgh No. Yds. LG TD L. Anderson 5 162 45 0 Los Angeles Rams Pittsburgh Steelers == Offense == Saul, Rich C Webster, Mike C Harrah, Dennis G Davis, Samuel G Hill, Kent G Mullins, Gerry G France, Doug T Brown, Larry T Slater, Jackie T Kolb, Jon T Nelson, Terry TE Cunningham, Bennie TE Dennard, Preston WR Stallworth, John WR Waddy, Billy WR Swann, Lynn WR Bryant, Cullen RB Bleier, Rocky RB Tyler, Wendell RB Harris, Franco RB Ferragamo, Vince QB Bradshaw, Terry QB == Defense == Brooks, Larry DT Dunn, Gary DT Fanning, Mike DT Greene, Joe DT Dryer, Fred DE Banaszak, John DE Youngblood, Jack DE Greenwood, L. C. DE Brudzinski, Bob OLB Cole, Robin OLB Youngblood, Jim OLB Winston, Dennis OLB Reynolds, Jack MLB Lambert, Jack MLB Perry, Rod CB Blount, Mel CB Thomas, Patrick CB Johnson, Ronald CB Cromwell, Nolan FS Thomas, J.T. FS Elmendorf, Dave SS Shell, Donnie SS == Substitute == Andrews, George Anderson, Anthony Bain, Bill Anderson, Larry Brown, Eddie Bahr, Matt Clark, Ken Beasley, Tom Corral, Frank Bell, Theo Doss, Reggie Colquitt, Craig Gravelle, Gordon Courson, Steve Harris, Joe Dornbrook, Thom Hill, Drew Furness, Steve Hill, Eddie Graves, Tom Jodat, Jim Grossman, Randy McCutcheon, Lawrence Hawthorne, Greg O'Steen, Dwayne Moser, Rick Ryczek, Dan Petersen, Ted Smith, Ronnie Smith, Jim A. Sully, Ivory Thornton, Sidney Wallace, Jackie Toews, Loren Westbrooks, Gregory Valentine, Zack Wilkinson, Gerald White, Dwight Young, Charle Woodruff, Dwayne == Did Not Play == Ellis, Ken Ham, Jack Lee, Bob Kruczek, Mike Rutledge, Jeff Stoudt, Cliff

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