Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

My Five Favorite In-Person Super Bowls

February 1st, 2014 · 1 Comment · Football, Lists, NFL, Sports Journalism, The Sun

This is kinda obnoxious, isn’t it. “Yeah, I’ve seen so many Super Bowls that I can do a list of my favorite five. That I saw. In person.”

I have watched most of all of the 47 played so far. Which mostly means I’m old.

I watched 35 of them on TV, but the other 12 as a credentialed journalist. I checked this the other day. Sometimes I can’t remember. Really. Was it 13? Ten?

Then I find the list of all the Super Bowls, and I pick out all of them that happened in the Rose Bowl, in San Diego, in Arizona, post-1980 … and then I add the several I covered wherever they happened to be, in the 1990s. Like the 49ers and Chargers in Miami.

So, today’s list: My five favorite Super Bowls — among the 12 I saw in person.

5. SB27: Dallas 52, Buffalo 17. The fourth Super Bowl I covered as a journalist. I remember the weather in the Rose Bowl being grand, and the Cowboys running riot. But what I remember most is a hustle play by the Bills receiver Don Beebe, who ran nearly 100 yards to chase down the Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett, who was about 5 yards from returning a fumble for a touchdown, and was hotdogging/showboating when Beebe finally caught him, and knocked the ball loose. It went through the end zone for a touchback. A great lesson there, in terms of not quitting and, also, celebrating prematurely. Back at the offices of the San Bernardino Sun, before the newspaper basically went out of business, we had a great photo of this play, taken by one of our own staffers, framed and hanging in the hall. I wonder where that photo is now.

4. SB37: Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21. I like this one for all the wrong reasons. By this time, 2003, I was back to loathing the Raiders, and I did not want to see the team that abandoned Los Angeles nine years before win a Super Bowl … and they emphatically did not. A big schadenfreude game for me. At San Diego. With the Raiders’ starting center Barret Robbins out after going AWOL in Tijuana. Seriously. And Jon Gruden, the winning coach — and an Al Davis castoff.

3. SB31: Green Bay 35, New England 21. I liked the football well enough. Brett Favre and the Packers, the most old-school of teams (aside from the Bears, perhaps), beating an old AFL team. Like that. But I remember it more clearly for it being in Louisiana, the first of two SBs I saw there. Bourbon Street and a week in New Orleans? Hard to beat. Also, one of the last years in which the media could get tickets to the over-the-top, Trimalchio’s Feast of a blowout — the Commissioner’s Party on Friday night. An unforgettable event — unless, perhaps, you had too much fun, and I saw a lot of people passed out on Bourbon Street who were having too much fun.

2. SB42: New York Giants 17, New England 14. The most recent Super Bowl I have covered, probably the last I will cover, and one of the biggest upsets in pro football history. The Patriots, whom I had come to loathe, entered the game 18-0 and were heavily favored to be the first team to go 19-0, but the Giants wrung the life out of the game, then staged a memorable touchdown drive in the final minutes, culminating with Eli Manning’s 13-yard TD pass with 35 seconds left. Big play on the drive: The memory-searing “helmet catch” by the Giants’ David Tyree on third-and-5 … the one where Tyree “secured” the ball by pinning it against his helmet with one hand. Also, my first game inside the new stadium in Glendale, Arizona. An amazing venue. Full disclosure: I saw the fourth quarter on TV from the main media tent; it was too cold in the stadium, and my press seat was a long ways from the action — as well as the interview area.

1. SB14: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19. The first Super Bowl I covered, and it came at the end of a three-year period during which I covered the Rams home and road. I felt a personal connection to that amazingly colorful team (Jack Youngblood, playing on a broken leg; Fred Dryer, Jack Reynolds, Dennis Harrah, Jim Youngblood, Nolan Cromwell, Wendell Tyler, Vince Ferragamo, etc.), and I may never have had a stronger rooting interest in a game — though I spent a lot of energy on the “professionalism” aspect of it. (No cheering in the press box. None.) Not many people remember this, but the Rams, who were something like 11-point underdogs, led at the end of the first, second and third quarters, and might well have won if Eddie Brown hadn’t blown a coverage on a long touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to John Stallworth — or if Ferragamo had not thrown an interception directly into the arms of Jack Lambert as the Rams were driving to retake the lead. At the Rose Bowl. Probably the best Super Bowl game for the first 25 years. Still No. 1 for me. Probably will stay No. 1, no matter how many more I see.

Note: Some of this text comes from my ranking of the top-10 games from the first 45 Super Bowls written on this blog two years ago.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Chuck Hickey // Feb 5, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    I knew what your No. 1 choice would be before opening this. Surprised on a couple that you picked and one you left out — SB32.

Leave a Comment