It’s the one true national holiday, more than the Fourth of July, more than Thanksgiving, though Christmas might be bigger. (Capitalism and Christianity have pull beyond our borders.) It’s the Super Bowl, and even people who don’t like football will tune in to watch.
Even in years when I can’t be bothered to watch (like the second half of the Bengals’ 2018 season), I tune in. And yes, I’m annoyed that the Patriots are back, the way people used to get annoyed when the Yankees went to the World Series. Again. Kinda like Groundhog Day.
I have a long history with the Super Bowl. For about four years in the late 1980s, I bet a coworker every year who used to pick the wrong team without fail. We bet dinner. I never paid. But what were some of my memories?
- Super Bowl XX – Jim McMahon as the mouth that roared throwing to Sweetness, Walter Payton. My biggest memory is of William “Refrigerator” Perry switching to offense to “run” the ball in late in the game. Perry did not so much run the ball as he basically flattened the New England defense line by stepping on them.
- The Fumble – OK, this was actually the 1987 AFC Championship. The Browns (the real Browns, not those imposters who’ve been embarrassing my hometown since 1999) were a lock to go to Super Bowl XXI. Only Ernest Byner, in his excitement to put the game away in the last minutes of the game, forgot to protect the ball. The Broncos stripped the ball, and John Elway did what John Elway would always do. But man, was it ever heartbreaking to watch.
- Super Bowl XLII – Patriots vs. Giants. I’m too young to remember the Dolphins’ undefeated season, so seeing the Pats pull this off would be a once-in-a-lifetime event. It was one of the rare times that I rooted for Tom Brady. Until Eli Manning popped up out of a pile of NFL flesh that should have flattened him into goo. David Tyree’s catch reminded me of Michael Jordan in Space Jam, when MJ discovered cartoon physics let you stretch. After that, I was like, “Screw New England. The Giants deserve this if they can pull it off.” I was sitting in a hotel room in Chicago having Giodarno’s pizza and drinking a mixed six-pack of beer. Awesome.
- Super Bowl XXVII – OK, I was in my office halftime live-blogging the game. So I missed Janet Jackson’s nipple during the halftime show. OTOH, I was not happy that rock station WEBN had to start bleeping or playing alternate takes of certain songs. Thanks, FCC.
- Super Bowl XLVII – I remember the Ravens playing. That’s about it. Two things made this Super Bowl memorable. First, it was played in New Jersey, the first time the game was played in a cold-weather city. There had been active discussion about the Super Bowl coming to Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium that quickly fizzled after this game. he other memorable event was the power outage, causing most of the second half to be played with half the field in the dark.
- Super Bowl LIII – OK, so it’s this Sunday. And I will be Ubering for four hours before the game because people want to get to their parties. After 6 PM, screw you. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I’ve got a game and commercials to watch. But I’m especially interested because the Rams are the NFC team. Which means I will get to watch the new (unofficially) Bengals head coach Zac Taylor in action. Taylor is currently the Rams’ quarterbacks coach. Which will make a Patriots defeat all the more sweeter.