An Illustrated History of the 1976 Season
"The Oakland Raiders would not be denied in 1976. It was to be their time at the top."
Super Bowl XI: Oakland Raiders 32 Minnesota Vikings 14
It was the early evening of January 14, 1973 -- less than two hours after Don Shula's Miami Dolphins had culminated their unprecedented unbeaten season by defeating Washington in Super Bowl VII. John Madden entered the opulent cavern of the Beverly Hilton's grand ballroom as unobtrusively as John Madden can enter anywhere.
Shula was far across the room, surround at the bar by a phalanx of celebrities and sycophants.
"I'd made my appearance and I was going to leave," Madden recalled. "I didn't want to interrupt, I just wanted to congratulate Shula. He was 25 yards away in a big crowd so I just waved. He knew what I meant."
But Shula wouldn't allow Madden to leave, gesturing for him to wait. The Dolphin coach disengaged himself and walked toward Madden as a sea of celebrants parted.
"I want to tell you, John, that for years they told me I wouldn't win the big one, " Shula said softly. "Today we did it. You've experienced some of the same things I did and your day is going to come."
It would be three more years, three more seasons before Madden and the Raiders would consummate Shula's prediction, but he never forgot that brief moment in Beverly Hills. -- from World Champions.