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Editor's note: This is a continuing series of Eastern Iowa sports history 'Time Machine' articles. Mark Dukes worked at The Gazette from 1973 to 1998, the last 14 years as sports editor.
Don Shula and Bill Walsh were there.
So were Joe Montana and Dan Marino. As were Jack Buck and Brent Musburger.
The occasion was Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium in January, 1985. The San Francisco 49ers were playing essentially a home game against the Miami Dolphins.
Also there was a middle-aged man who grew up on the northeast side of Cedar Rapids, near Daniels Park, a member of the 1949 Franklin High School state championship baseball team and a University of Iowa letterman.
Bill Quinby, then 52, found himself at that Super Bowl after years toiling as a local official in many sports, then in the Big Ten and the National Football League. Quinby was the side judge in Super Bowl XIX, the only Cedar Rapidian to don a whistle in the NFL's premier game.
'I was really fortunate to be a guy from Cedar Rapids to get into officiating in the Big Ten and then the NFL,' Quinby said this week. 'I would say, yes, it was the highlight of my (officiating) career. It's the top game you could work in the NFL.
'I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in five conference championship games. I always thought maybe I could make another Super Bowl, but it didn't happen.'
To work the Super Bowl, an official must have earned the top ranking at his position during the regular season. Officials ranking behind him got other playoff assignments.
Quinby was working as personnel manager at Creswell, Munsell, Fultz & Zirbel in Cedar Rapids when he got a most memorable call.
'Art McNally, then the supervisor of officials, personally called me that I had gotten the assignment,' Quinby said. 'We had to be at the site the Wednesday before the game. On Thursday, we just did some sightseeing with our wives.
'On Friday, we had meetings in the morning and the afternoon to go over the whole game. Saturday, we went to the stadium, hung up our uniforms and talked among ourselves for about 45 minutes.'
Quinby, who will be 85 in February, didn't recall being necessarily in awe of the moment. The game drew a crowd of 84,000 and more than 85 million more were watching on ABC.
'Sure, I knew it was the Super Bowl,' he said. 'But I had worked at Stanford before for a college game against Northwestern. So I had been to the stadium. It was exciting for sure but once the game started, it was pretty normal.'
San Francisco won the Super Bowl, 38-16, giving Walsh the second of his three Super Bowl wins as a head coach. Montana passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns. His counterpart, Marino, passed for 318 yards as the duo became the first in Super Bowl history to each pass for more than 300 yards. Running back Roger Craig, a Davenport native, scored three TDs for the 49ers.
A 21-point second quarter sparked the 49ers. San Francisco was leading, 21-10, when Freddie Solomon hauled in a pass from Montana, apparently fumbled, and Miami's Lyle Blackwood picked up the ball and headed for the end zone. Instead of it becoming a 21-17 game, the play was ruled an incomplete pass (there was no replay in the NFL then). The 49ers continued the drive and went ahead 28-10.
Field judge Bob Lewis made that ruling. Some game accounts contended Quinby, who was closest to the play, 'froze' and didn't make a call.
'I saw it the same way,' he said. 'I think it worked out because the supervisor said we made a good call. There was a little controversy with Miami and I remember Shula yelling.
'All in all, I thought it was a relatively smooth game. Not easy, but comfortable.'
As an official positioned along the sideline, Quinby heard his share of chirping during the games.
'The best coach in the NFL was Tom Landry,' he said. 'He hardly ever said 'boo.' But I remember Mike Ditka was an assistant with the Cowboys and he'd let a lot of us have it. But he was fun to work for. Basically when the game was done, he felt maybe he didn't get a call that day, but he might the next.
'Certain coaches talked a little more harsh and used words that aren't nice in the vocabulary. The fellow that was really tough was Chuck Knox (Buffalo, Rams and Seattle coach). He was vocal from kickoff to the end of the game.'
As a collegiate official, Quinby worked the 1972 Rose Bowl, a 13-12 Stanford win over Michigan, and the 1978 Orange Bowl, when Lou Holtz-coached Arkansas pasted heavily favored Oklahoma and Barry Switzer, 31-6.
For all the memorabilia — he received a ring and watch from the Super Bowl — and paychecks Quinby earned as an official, he always has felt the occupation gave him more in other ways.
'Number one, it was working with young people,' he said. 'I also liked the discipline of athletics, the rules that were there, everyone having to follow them and officials making sure everyone follows them.
'One other thing was that in all the high school, college and pro games, I got to stand on the sideline for two or three minutes when the national anthem was played. For a few moments, everyone was kind of proud this is America.
'Then the football game started and you never knew if all hell was going to break loose.'
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