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My Top Ten Super Bowls

January 25th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Abu Dhabi, Football, Lists, NFL, Sports Journalism, UAE

Seems like time for a list.

I’m pretty sure I’ve noted on this blog that I am among a rapidly shrinking fraction of Americans who have seen every Super Bowl. Either in person or on television.

Do the math. The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967. Even if we cast a wide net and suggest that a 6-year-old could have seen the Packers and Chiefs and have some memory of it … the very youngest a person could then be and still have seen every SB is … 50 years old. And some large percentage of the U.S. population is younger than 50.

So, having some real-time memory of all of them, I feel in a position to compare and contrast and rank my favorite 10 SBs.

Counting down from No. 10, “Letterman style”, of course.

10. SB3: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7. Already ignoring the guidelines. I didn’t “like” this Super Bowl at all. I was an NFL stalwart; hated the AFL. I liked the Colts, too. Tom Matte, Johnny Unitas. But it certainly is memorable. Easily the most memorable of the first 10 games, because of the magnitude of the upset.

9. SB27: Dallas 52, Buffalo 17. The fourth Rose Bowl I covered as a journalist. I remember the weather 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.

8. SB17:  Washington 27, Miami 17. Another one I covered (which clearly makes me more fond of the games). This was John “Riggo” Riggins running roughshod over the Dolphins, with more than a little help from “the Hogs”, as Washington’s offensive line was called.

7. 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. Jon Gruden, the winning coach — and an Al Davis castoff.

6. SB41: Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17. Not a great game; Peyton Manning and the Colts pretty much dominated the Bears and Rex Grossman (!?!). But I will never forget where I saw the game — in the main theater of a cruise ship on the high seas between Honolulu and Los Angeles. They had put up a big screen, and were getting the signal from some satellite somewhere, and the game started at about noon, Hawaii time. Or wherever time zone we were in that day in 2007.

5. SB45: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25. You “kids” out there don’t properly appreciate how many good (verging on great) Super Bowls have been played in the past 10-15 years. Before then, the games were almost always blowouts. And sloppy. Badly played. The TV commercials were always better than the game. But we’ve had several good games since the Rams beat the Titans by 1 yard in 2000, and this was another good one. Every time it looked like the Packers would run away with the game, the Steelers battled back. Plus, I watched it from Abu Dhabi, which is no mean feat, being 12 hours ahead of PDT.

4. 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 in to the over-the-top 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.

3. SB18: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington 9. Saw this one from the home of a colleague, Vic West, who staged a staff party. The one and only Super Bowl championship by a Los Angeles team — even if Los Angeles was just getting used to the idea of the Raiders being a Los Angeles team, albeit for only about 12 years. Marcus Allen, USC guy, with the long reverse-field touchdown run. Jim Plunkett. Joe Theismann.

2. SB42: New York Giants 17, New England 14.  The most recent Super Bowl I have covered, and one of the biggest upsets in pro football history. The Patriots, whom I have 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 brain-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, 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 had not Vince Ferragamo 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, even if I see 45 more of these.


2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chuck Hickey // Jan 27, 2012 at 6:23 AM

    Not 32? In San Diego, where you were. AFC ending the 13-year drought. Elway finally winning one. Back-and-forth game. I knew 14 was still your favorite.

  • 2 Ben Bolch // Jan 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    I hated–HAAAAATED–John Riggins and the ridiculous Hogs, particularly when they showed those fans dressed like pigs at RFK Stadium.

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