In my last post, I mentioned the incredible comeback orchestrated by the New England Patriots as they clawed back from a 25-point deficit to win Super Bowl LI over the Atlanta Falcons. As I no longer have a favorite NFL team to root for, I was able to enjoy this game for its blossoming upset in the first half followed by the “one for the ages” come-from-behind spectacle. This 2017 version of the contest for the Vince Lombardi Trophy will definitely go down in my memory as one of the (if not “the”) most exciting games.
However, there are other Super Bowl contests that live in my memories.
These are those stories.
XI: January 9, 1977 – Oakland Raiders 32-14 over Minnesota Vikings
This is the first Super Bowl I can remember. This particular contest is in my brain because it features a pair of teams that I cannot stand. The Raiders have always had a bad-boy, brash attitude that I did not care for even when my age was in the single digits. I was still young enough to believe that the good guys should always win and Oakland was definitely not the team wearing the white hats. On the other side were the Vikings, who were the constant thorn in the side of my favorite team of the time, the Los Angeles Rams. Fran Tarkenton, the Vikings’ quarterback and team leader, always seemed to defeat my Rams in the playoffs. To this day, it still pleases me that Minnesota is 0-for-4 in their Super Bowl appearances and haven’t been in the title game since this 1977 game.
XII: January 21, 1978 – Dallas Cowboys 27-10 over Denver Broncos
This is the first Super Bowl contest where I have a vested interest in the game. At school, there were some loud-mouthed Cowboys fans talking all sorts of garbage about how tremendous their team, America’s Team, was and how they were going to destroy the Orange Crush of Denver. With one of them, I asked them to put their money where their mouth was and we bet on the game. All during the contest, as Dallas rolled on to victory, I spent the rest of that Sunday trying to scrounge up the $1.50 I would need to pay off my first gambling debt.
XIV: January 20, 1980 – Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 over Los Angeles Rams
This is the one and only time I watched a Super Bowl where my favorite team was involved and thus I was emotionally invested (not just financially invested). I spend this title game at home with my family glued to the television and feeling faintly giddy as the third quarter ends and the scrappy upstart Rams are ahead of the Pittsburgh juggernaut of the Steel Curtain, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swan, and company. Then the fourth quarter starts and it all goes to heck in a handbasket. The next time the Rams make the Super Bowl (XXXIV), I no longer care as they now hail from St. Louis.
XXI: January 25, 1987 – New York Giants 39-20 over Denver Broncos and;
XXII: January 31, 1988 – Washington Redskins 42-10 over Denver Broncos and;
XXIV: January 20, 1990 – San Fransisco 49ers 55-10 over Denver Broncos
These games are three out of the four Super Bowls that occurred while I was in college. As much as the Rams’ defeat in XIV crushed me, it was nothing compared to the soul-gnashing that happened to my college roommate who was as big a Bronco fan as I have ever met. How big a fan? Large giant flag with the team logo? Check. Watched every game religiously? Check. In addition, he knew Coach Dan Reeves personally and I was actually able to meet Mr. Reeves courtesy of my roommate. As you might imagine, each of these defeats meant my roommate was largely incorrigible for the following 24-36 hours after each drubbing.
XXV: January 27, 1991: New York Giants 20-19 over Buffalo Bills
Most famous as the “wide-right” Super Bowl as Buffalo missed a last-second field goal which would have won the game and semi-famous as the event where Whitney Houston sang the national anthem, this football titular game is in my memory because of where I spend it and with whom. This is my first post-college Super Bowl and instead of being in a lobby full of college co-eds downing pizza and chips amidst a clamor of drunken cheering, I am sitting in a subdued suburban restaurant (Hof’s Hut for those we like extraneous details) with a friend from high school. In between glances at the game and in between sips of margaritas, we are catching up on each other’s lives and discussing what the future holds for each of us. Of course, we would be wrong but that’s the issue with predictions. As it is, the frenzy of the game on the television is juxtaposed against the calm of our personal conversation.
XXX: January 28, 1996: Dallas Cowboys 27-17 over Pittsburgh Steelers
This is my first Super Bowl as a married man. My lovely wife, who is not a sports fan but I am in the process of converting her, joins me on the couch of our home (how wonderful it is to describe this location as our home) to watch the game and the commercials. She also makes for me a fabulous seven-layer dip that I will request for later Super Bowls.
XLIX: February 1, 2015: New England Patriots 28-24 over Seattle Seahawks
I am actually watching this game on Monday morning. This is because I am living in Bangkok and, due to the time difference, I am forced to sneak away from my workplace to watch snippets of this game. Luck is with me as I am in our building’s cafeteria as the Seahawks, with seconds left in the game, are a yard or so away from the end zone – and from winning the title – when instead of handing the ball to their star running back, Seattle opts to pass. The entire legion of cafeteria spectators groan as one disbelieving entity as the Patriots knock the ball down ensuring their fourth NFL title. Then I had to go back to work.
And now LI: February 5, 2017 joins this pantheon.
That’s my story.
P.S. As to why I no longer have a favorite NFL team that I cheer for despite having lived in San Diego and the Washington DC area, well…that’s a story for another day.