Monday, February 4, 2019

Super Bowl Memories

We just lived through another Super Bowl. In recent years, the Super Bowl has been less about the game of football and more about shiny things distracting the audience from a progressively subpar product. Super Bowl LIII was the perfect storm of this very thing. From the game, to the commercials, to the halftime show, this year’s edition of the Super Bowl didn’t even live up to the lowest of the hype. Still, even with the lowest ratings of any Super Bowl in recent memory, around 100 million people watched the game. That had me thinking of some memorable games in my lifetime.

The earliest, clear memory of the big game was Super Bowl XX in Louisiana when the Chicago Bears stomped the Cinderella New England Patriots 46-10. I had permission to watch the game in my bedroom. I had a 13” black and white television on my dresser. I think I made it to halftime, but fell asleep shortly after the third quarter began. One of the biggest thing I remember was Refrigerator Perry running in for a touchdown.

The 1985 Chicago Bears were a juggernaut of not only football, but also of pop culture. The team made the Billboard Top 100 with “The Super Bowl Shuffle” peaking at #41. From it’s release in early December, it was soon heard everywhere, especially in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. For those of you who want to relive that earworm, here’s the link for that tune:

Most people in Western New York remember the game five years later when the Buffalo Bills played in their first Super Bowl. “Wide right” will forever be etched into the nightmare of Bills fans for all time. In those days, I was still excited a bit about the Bills, even though I was a Green Bay Packers fan. There was a collective groan in our living room when the ball sailed wide. We kind of blame my mom for the loss. She watched the whole game until the two-minute warning, and then went to take a shower. Maybe if she had continued to watch the game, the Bills would have prevailed. Sports superstitions are no joke.

As a Packers fan, my next Super Bowl memory is XXXI. It also happens to be my favorite Patriots Super Bowl memory. Sorry Pats fans. Almost all the scoring took place in the first half, capped off by Desmond Howard’s 99-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. With Brett Favre at the helm, those of us who were Packers fans thought this would be the start of a dynasty in the NFL. Our hopes were high, especially when the Packers returned to the Super Bowl next year to face the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately for us, John Elway wanted to go out on top of the game.

The Packers made it back to the big game at the end of the 2010 season for Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game was important to me a several ways. It was the first time my team had made it to the Super Bowl since the kids were born. They would get to enjoy the game with me with a rooting interest. The second reason was for bragging rights at the office. My boss was from PIttsburgh, so there was the tiniest bit of trash talk going on that week before the game.

Our kids were so young that they only got to watch the first quarter before they had to go to bed. This was a great game that had me on the edge of my seat for all four quarters. There was a lot of pacing going on. The Packers jumped out to a large lead, but Pittsburgh battled back. By the end of the fourth quarter, I was sitting in my chair watching Roethlisberger attempt a last ditch effort at a comeback win. When Big Ben’s last pass fell incomplete, I jumped out of my chair, over the TV tray in front of me (not knocking over anything on the tray in the process), screaming that we just won the Super Bowl. Of course, I woke up two of the girls in the process. But the Packers had just won the Super Bowl.

Now back to Super Bowl LIII. Without a doubt, unless Tom Brady or Bill Belechick retires in the next few days or weeks, this one will be entirely forgettable. There was minimal excitement throughout the game. The commercials were lackluster, as if the advertisers, too, were simply tired of an overpriced and overhyped game. As for the halftime show, it simply was the worst part of the game. I guess we still measure the shows against the show that Prince graced us with for Super Bowl XLI in 2007.

After watching the game, I must say, however, that the selection of Julian Edelman as MVP was a terribly poor choice. Yes, he ran amok, especially in the first half, but the Patriots did nothing with it. They only scored 3 points. In my opinion, and it pains me to say this, but Rob Gronkowski was robbed of the MVP. Without a doubt, his catch in double coverage, bringing the Patriots to the 2-yard line changed the game. That play was the one that changed the entire flow of the game and gave the previously stalled momentum to the Patriots. Edelman’s choice just highlights the fact that the league cares more about stats than substance.

Another argument could be made for Stephon Gilmore being MVP with his interception at the end of the game. I don’t think that interception had as much impact as Gronk’s reception. I still stand by my opinion that Rob Gronkowski should be the MVP of Super Bowl LIII. But other than that, there’s not much that can be said about this year’s game. Maybe next season, we’ll get some new teams in the game, which will make it that much more exciting for those of us outside the greater Boston area.

Craig Bacon would love to see a Super Bowl in person, but he will never pay $5000 to watch a mere football game. He has more brains than that.