Super Bowl Lore.
[Originally published February 4, 2005.]
The first Super Bowl, in 1967, wasn’t even called the Super Bowl! It was called the AFL-NFL Royal Rumble, and was broadcast on two networks. Although many people remember it for a hilarious Chuck Wagon commercial, the game itself was actually quite exciting. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs as benchwarming receiver Max McGee, who had spent the previous night in a brothel, an opium den, and, finally, jail, caught two touchdowns.
In Super Bowl VII, Miami held Richard Nixon to just 18 yards on 14 rushing attempts as the Dolphins defeated Washington 24-20.
In the ‘70s, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who were America’s darlings. Before Super Bowl XIII, the Cowboys’ “Hollywood” Henderson told the press that Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw “couldn’t spell ‘cat’ if you spotted him the C and the A.” He was correct.
Also in Super Bowl XIII, with Pittsburgh leading Dallas 21-14 in the third quarter, Cowboys receiver Jackie Smith dropped a sure touchdown pass. “Bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America!” exclaimed the announcer, as Smith vomited for five whole minutes in the end zone and left the game with a 103-degree temperature.
Although the Chicago Bears won the Best New Artist award for “Super Bowl Shuffle” at the ‘86 Grammys, hard-core fans knew they’d been playing together for years.
Joe Montana was always a cool customer, but never more than in Super Bowl XXIII versus Cincinnati. Down by three with 3:20 left in the game, the 49ers huddled up for a final drive. As Montana began to call the play, someone in the stands caught his eye. “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?” he asked his teammates. He then led his team on a 92-yard drive to win the game in the final seconds, only to learn later that it was actually Louie Anderson.
In the early ’90s, the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls. This despite being quarterbacked by Jim Kelly, a.k.a. “Black Belt Jones.”
Whenever Dallas’s gargantuan but lovable defensive tackle Leon Lett made a mistake, broadcasters only needed simply to say his name and laugh. Try it: “Leon Lett!”
In January 1997, the Green Bay Packers finally returned to the Super Bowl and won. I was so drunk that night that I stood on top of a table at a bar, urinated, then did a stage dive into the crowd and was abruptly dropped on my back.
The incident involving Janet Jackson’s exposed breast at halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII continues to be a wellspring of material for Jay Leno’s monologue.
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