“The Catch” was the dawn of a new era in the NFL

AP

When I first discovered the NFL in the early 1970s, the league had a handful of Harlem Globetrotters, and pretty much everyone else was the Washington Generals.

It was the Dolphins, Steelers, Cowboys, and Raiders, with each winning at least two Super Bowls from 1971 through 1980. At the other end of the spectrum were the teams that couldn’t get out of their own way.

Leading the way among the teams that couldn’t get out of their own way was the 49ers. And in the first year after Cowboys, Dolphins, Dolphins, Steelers, Steelers, Raiders, Cowboys, Steelers, Steelers, Raiders, the 49ers took over.

But even after a 13-3 season that gave the 49ers the No. 1 seed in the NFC (and the best record in all of football), no one believed that the 49ers could finish the job. Especially with the Cowboys standing in the way for a berth in Super Bowl XVI.

Then came the game that culminated in The Catch. And that’s what made Dwight Clark’s feat even more impressive. Making the moment even more unforgettable was the fact that it represented a break from the same-old NFL.

The Generals had finally beaten the Globetrotters, opening the door for a greater range of championship possibilities. And while the 49ers quickly became the Globetrotters in their own right, that Clark-and-Joe-Montana-fueled ascension of the 49ers was special because it went so decidedly against what had become the norm for anyone who had been paying attention to the NFL — and especially for those of us who first noticed the NFL on the front end of a decade that consisted of only four haves and 24 have-nots.

12 responses to ““The Catch” was the dawn of a new era in the NFL

  1. Watched it live. Vin Scully doing the call (but for years I always thought hat Summerall had done it until I watched it recently on YouTube). Football was different then, the NFL was different then, and so was sports broadcasting and reporting…

  2. Even as a Colts fan of the late 60s and early 70s, the 49ers were an interesting team to follow with Brodie, Willard, Washington. They just could not beat the Cowboys.

  3. When the Patriots even qualified for a Super Bowl in 85 by beating the Raiders and Dolphins on the road, nothing shook the pillars of Heaven more than that.

  4. I would say that is a very fair assessment from an historical perspective.

    The 1980s saw the creation of cable tv, but prior to that, all sports leagues were sort of searching for great moments.

    The NBA in particular.

  5. endtimesparty says:
    June 5, 2018 at 11:06 am
    When the Patriots even qualified for a Super Bowl in 85 by beating the Raiders and Dolphins on the road, nothing shook the pillars of Heaven more than that.

    1 8 Rate This

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    Maybe in the AFC, sure. The AFC was really lame in the 1980s. THey had Marino, but he choked over and over in the postseason.

  6. imadirtyskunk says:
    June 5, 2018 at 11:03 am
    Watched it live. Vin Scully doing the call (but for years I always thought hat Summerall had done it until I watched it recently on YouTube). Football was different then, the NFL was different then, and so was sports broadcasting and reporting…

    8 0 Rate This
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    Shhhh. Don’t tell our snowflakey Millennials who support Goodell and the cheating owners.

  7. Mike, you could not be more right then this. Although I hate the 49ers, this catch started a dynasty that would have lasted well into the 90’s and possibly the 2000’s if Debartolo was still the owner. They had class and were simply the best. They knew how to restock players. This was got football where it was until the the latest controversy. All anyone cared about was watching football where you get great catches like this. I miss the sportscasting of 10-20 years ago. Florio you keep it real. I have been reading your page since you first started it.

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