UC Berkeley’s quarterback connection to the Super Bowl began well before there was a Super Bowl.
In the fall of 1960, Joe Kapp made a habit of haunting Craig Morton, a kid he’d heard about who didn’t live far away down the South Bay way.
“He camped outside my house,” Morton says now. “My mom would say, `He’s out there again,’ and I’d say, `Again? I’m not going out there.’”
At the time Kapp had just finished playing football and basketball at Cal and Morton was in the middle of being named Northern California high school athlete of the year as a Campbell (San Jose) High quarterback and pitcher.
“I recruited him to Cal, you bet I did,” Kapp says. After shining as a quarterback for Cal, he was heading off to play in Canada, and Kapp wanted a replacement. He wanted Morton, and Morton went on to star for the Golden Bears. “I’d seen the film of what he could do, and I wanted him to go play where I’d played.”
Kapp played for the better part of a decade in Canada before landing with the Vikings and taking Minnesota to Super Bowl IV in 1970. A year later, it was Morton at the reins for the Cowboys in Super Bowl V. He’d come back with Denver for Super Bowl XII.
Since then, Vince Ferragamo, who spent 1972 and ’73 at Cal and two more years at Nebraska, and Aaron Rodgers (at Cal 2003 and ’04) have put “starting Super Bowl quarterback” on their resumes, Ferragamo in Super Bowl XIV and Rodgers in Super Bowl XLV.
This Sunday, Jared Goff will become the fifth Golden Bear to start a Super Bowl, leading the L.A. Rams..
No other NCAA school has produced so many Super Bowl starting QBs.
Kapp says he knows why that is.
“It’s very simple; A Super Bowl quarterback has got to be the best looking,” he says with a smile in his voice. “And Cal quarterbacks have always been the best looking.”
And they have an affinity for each other. Kapp, 80, and Morton, 75, both still live in the Bay Area and remain close friends. Morton is friends, too, with Jerry Goff, the former Major League pitcher who just happens to be Jared Goff’s father.
“It’s a fraternity,” Morton says. “We all have great affinity for one another just like we have for the school. I always say they’ll bury me as a Golden Bear. It is amazing to me, though, that we have had so many starting QBs in the Super Bowl.
“If you look back, the Rams took Jared with the No. 1 pick just when they were moving back to Los Angeles. The owner wanted to give everything he could for a new coach to be successful and they drafted Jared. It’s paid off.
“Aaron had the chance to study behind Brett (Favre in Green Bay). I remember him sitting in the draft room, the last guy there, on his draft day and I was saying, `This is stupid. Any team who doesn’t draft him will regret this.’ And they have; he has the best fundamentals of any quarterback I have ever seen. And Ferragamo, I knew he was going to be good when he was in high school (Banning in Southern California) and his brother (Chris) was helping to coach him. Add me and Joe, and that’s a pretty good five.”
Although he played basketball for Pete Newell in 1956-57 and 1957-58, Kapp has always put football first. And his body has taken a toll for that. During the interview, he massages the knees that made him so mobile behind the center and which took a pounding.
“Football is a very tough game in terms of pain,” Kapp says. “And that’s OK. To be able to be a quarterback starting in the Super Bowl, that’s why you play the game. Most people who reach the Super Bowl are the best at what they do, and I know Goff is that way.
“What I think is not realized is that a good sense of humor goes with making a good quarterback. I think we have that here at Cal, too.”
Kapp thinks Goff has that. The third-year pro, after all, could have been beaten down by criticism that came his way as a rookie, that he was a bust. He brushed it off, opened eyes last year and now is in the Super Bowl in his third year at the Rams’ helm.
“I’ve watched him for a long time,” Morton says of Goff. “He’s a great young man and a great quarterback. I’ll tell you, the other four of us will be pulling for him in every game he plays, particularly this one. We know what he’s gone through.”
For the record, Cal already had the record for most quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl. No other school has had more than three QBs do it, and there are only three of those. Alabama (Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler), Notre Dame (Daryle Lamonica, Joe Montana, Joe Theismann) and Purdue (Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Drew Brees) have reached that level.
And then there is Gale Gilbert, another Cal quarterback with a Super Bowl record. Gilbert played for the Bears from 1980-84, and he went on to be on a Super Bowl roster five consecutive seasons in a decade-long career, although he didn’t start any of the five. The first four were spent as a backup with the Buffalo Bills 1991-94 and then he was the backup for the San Diego Chargers in 1995. His teams lost all five games.