Long Island native, football writer Jerry Green missing first Super Bowl in 57 years

At 94 years old and unable to travel due to his advanced age and physical state, the Great Neck native spoke to News 12 leading up to Super Bowl LVII about his legendary football writing career and how Long Island helped shape his life.

Chris R. Vaccaro

Feb 12, 2023, 7:51 PM

Updated 436 days ago

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Long Island native, football writer Jerry Green missing first Super Bowl in 57 years
Photo credit: Detroit News
After covering 56 consecutive Super Bowl games, Long Island native Jerry Green will enjoy the game from his television this year.
At 94 years old and unable to travel due to his advanced age and physical state, the Great Neck native spoke to News 12 leading up to Super Bowl LVII about his legendary football writing career and how Long Island helped shape his life.
An inductee of the writer’s wing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, Green wrote for the Detroit News for 41 years from 1963 through 2004 and has filed stories and columns over the last 20 years in retirement. 
Until this year, he was the only sportswriter to cover every Super Bowl.
Chris R. Vaccaro: Most of the material online about your life points to Michigan and the half-century impact you made in journalism from Detroit, but you grew up on Long Island. That’s what I want to know about. 
Jerry Green: I grew up in Flushing, and my parents moved to Great Neck when I was 11, and I lived there until I was 16. This was in the 1930s. I went to high school in Great Neck for two years and then prep school at Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. I grew up at 45 Strathmore Road. My father worked in Manhattan. That was one of the things I didn’t want to do, become a commuter on the Long Island Rail Road. 
CV: Besides not liking the LIRR, what else do you remember from Long Island and that developmental period in your life?
JG: I liked sports. I remember playing baseball. We did not have Little League then, but we played sandlot ball at the park. I remember playing and not being very good. Afterward, I remember when I learned to drive, I would drive to the various ballparks. Yankee Stadium, Polo Grounds and Ebbetts Field, and go to ballgames there, sometimes by myself. I remember the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, December 7, 1941, I was 13 that year. I was listening to the very famous New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers football game at the time. They had a great player named Ace Parker. I remember the broadcast being interrupted and the announcer saying that Japanese planes had attacked Pearl Harbor. I went down and told my dad that Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he was pretty concerned. We all were. 
CV: It’s been referenced that you wrote for the now-defunct Long Island Star Journal newspaper early in your career. Was it a goal to stay local and write in New York?
JG: When I got out of the Navy, I went to every paper in New York City. I couldn’t get a job. It was a very menial and temporary reporter’s job. It was a beginning. I kept looking for a sportswriting job. Finally, in frustration, on one of my days off, I went into the Associated Press and managed to catch the national sports editor of the Associated Press, a man named Ted Smith, and he recommended me for a job in Ann Arbor, and I accepted. I started there in 1956, covering Michigan football. I was still in my 20s. It seemed to be a pretty high-prestige job. 
CV: How often did you come back to Long Island, if ever?
JG: I went back to visit my parents, yes. I told my parents I was getting married in 1961 at the same time, I was becoming the Michigan AP sports editor. Getting married was important, and they wanted me to bring my future bride to Long Island with me, so we went. I recall the flight was canceled, and we went by train from Detroit to New York to Grand Central Station. I remember that weekend, among the problems, we lost electricity for part of the weekend. It was Labor Day weekend. The Tigers were playing in Yankee stadium, and the Yankees basically won the pennant over a very good Detroit Tigers team. That Tigers team, I think, won more than 100 games. (The Tigers did win 101 games in 1961). 
CV: You had some life and career. Anyone who can hang around this long, especially in sports media, has great stories. 
JG: It was a great job and more than I thought it could ever be. I feel I’ve overachieved. The Detroit News made me the Lions beat writer in 1965. We traveled on the Lions’ plane. I went to San Fran, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Chicago, and trips like that. We would stay at the hotel where the players were. They became pretty close to us. The GM never liked what I wrote. I covered some World Series later on. I changed my ambition midstream. I wanted to be a baseball writer. I turned down a promotion from a pro football writer to cover baseball in the 1960s. And then, I changed from wanting to be a baseball writer to being a columnist.
CV: Every generation of writers can say they covered some of the greats, but in the 1960s and 1970s, you really saw some exceptional games and players make their mark. Without reliving the 70 years of your life, who were some of the more exceptional people you remember?
JG: Vince Lombardi is the greatest coach or manager I have covered in my lifetime, I believe. When I got to Ann Arbor in 1956, I got tremendous help from coach Bennie Ooosterbaan, who, almost 100 years ago, was a star athlete at Michigan as well. He was one of the best-known athletes in the country. There have been a lot of good people, but they stand out. 
CV: You have become synonymous with the Super Bowl because of your ironman streak of covering the big game. There has to be a top memory from all those games.
JG: Super Bowl I and getting to ask Vince Lombardi questions and actually, after repeating the question twice, squeezing the answer out of him. Number 2 would be Super Bowl III when Joe Namath wasn't talking much to the press and being included in a very semi-private interview with him poolside in Fort Lauderdale. This was two nights before the Jets would beat the Colts. Those are my favorites, plus the memories of Tom Brady and his 10 Super Bowl appearances. 
CV: That’s some run. It’s tough to see that come to an end, I’m sure.
JG: I am the only newspaper writer to have done all 56 so far. I’m 94 on oxygen, I use a walker, and I get around ok, I think. I still write occasionally for the Detroit News. The NFL has been very, very kind and helpful to me, and I don't think many sportswriters can say that!
CV: How do you want to be remembered? 
JG: Just another guy who worked. 



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