Jerry Green, a legendary sportswriter for The Detroit News and the last reporter to cover every Super Bowl from the game’s inception, died Thursday night at the age of 94. Green had covered Super Bowls I through LVI before announcing earlier this year that he would not be attending Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
A native of New York City, Green began his journalism career at the New York Journal-American before taking a job at the Associated Press in Ann Arbor, Mich. after serving in the U.S. Navy in Hong Kong. Starting out covering Michigan football and becoming the Detroit Associated Press sports editor, Green would then go on to become a Detroit Lions beat writer — covering the team’s NFL championship season in 1957 — for The Detroit News while also becoming a fixture among media at the Super Bowl as a columnist.
One of Green’s most notable moments as a reporter came in the leadup to Super Bowl III, when he was among a small group of reporters who spoke to New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath poolside at the Galt Ocean Mile Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Namath had blown off media obligations twice in the leadup to the Super Bowl, but he agreed to an impromptu media session by the pool with select reporters, including Green.
Green went on to cover each of the first 56 Super Bowls, and became the last reporter to attend every Super Bowl, surpassing Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger. Due to his health, Green did not travel to this year’s Super Bowl, and had considered what it would be like to watch the game from home on television for the first time.
“It’s something I’ve never done,” Green said in January. “I don’t know. That’s something that bothered me — still does. Guys get credentialed to the game, to sit in the press box and then sit in the media workroom at the stadium and watch it on TV. I’ve always believed if you’re going to cover a game, you’ve got to be there.”
Green would retire from The Detroit News in 2004, but he continued to occasionally write for the paper in a role that included week-long coverage of each Super Bowl. Although he never saw the Lions play in a Super Bowl, he covered both Super Bowls in Detroit — Super Bowl XVI at the Pontiac Superdome and Super Bowl XL at Ford Field.
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Detroit News columnist Jerry Green,” read a statement by the Lions. “Jerry’s work ethic, professionalism and commitment to his craft made a significant impact on journalism within the city of Detroit and around the country for more than a half-century.
“Jerry’s dedication to covering the NFL was perhaps best reflected in his unprecedented streak of covering 56 consecutive Super Bowls over the course of his career. His work was instrumental in promoting the game of football and expanding interest in the NFL. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the Green family and all who knew him.”
Green was inducted into the writer’s wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005, and two years earlier had been inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
Jerry Green was preceded in death by his wife Nancy, who died of breast cancer in 2002. He is survived by his daughter, Jenny Klein.