February 1, 2002

A journey through time; bear with me as I chronicle the best and worst Super Bowls

The Super Bowl. For years, we've congregated around the television to watch the commercials. They are the only part of the event that is guaranteed to amuse the viewers. There is this halftime show, too, but don't get me started on that. Britney Spears's appearance last year stripped me of any enjoyment of the commercials that I had built up. Then there's this football game. Apparently they take the top teams from the two conferences of the National Football League, cart them off to a random football stadium, and have them fight over a little trophy. Sometimes the games are riveting, and sometimes you just want to get back to the commercials. We know not yet what this weekend's contest between the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots will bring, but perhaps it will be one of the best Super Bowls ever. But it also might be one of the worst. To see how it stacks up, I've ranked the five best and five worst Super Bowls of all time.

Five Worst

Super Bowl XVIII: I hate the Raiders. Perhaps that is why I dislike the matchup of their Los Angeles team with the Washington Redskins in Florida. L.A. won big, scoring the first touchdown of the game, and taking a 21-3 lead into halftime en route to a 38-9 victory. The only bright spot was that Raiders running back Marcus Allen won the Most Valuable Player award, and I think that he is an okay guy. After the game, Raiders owner Al Davis must have been giddy, and he is such a slimy individual that it is making me sick to even think about it. I must move on now.

Super Bowl IV: I am surprised that they didn't cancel the Super Bowl after this snoozer only four years into its existence. It was over at halftime, with the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in Louisiana. The Chiefs led by sixteen points at halftime, and Minnesota lost, which is just criminal. Minnesota is a much better place than Kansas City. I say this for two reasons. One, because I was born in Minnesota. Two, because Kansas City has an annoying airport. You have to go in and out of security to go to the bathroom. It is just absurd. On this basis I contend that Minnesota should have won that game, and, if they had won, it would have been a whole lot more interesting.

Super Bowl XXXV: The Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants came to Florida, they fought, and the Ravens conquered. And everyone yawned. I literally fell asleep during this game. I was at the best Super Bowl party ever. My friends and I rented the presidential suite at a four-star hotel, and got all hyped up for the game. By halftime half of the room was fast asleep. Not a single one of use stayed awake for the duration of the game. It was that bad. Notice that I haven't even included any of the details of the game. I feel they don't deserve mention. I would hate to pass on the pain I feel from my own memories of the game.

Super Bowl XXVII: The Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in California. The game was only exciting insofar as I thought that it would be really really cool if the Cowboys hit 60 points. Jim Kelly, the Bills quarterback, was knocked out of the game in the first half, which rendered the Bills' trademark no-huddle offense stagnant. The Bills also had nine turnovers. I could do better than that. And I have a bad knee.

Super Bowl XXII: John Elway is a good quarterback. John Elway is a nice guy. John Elway went to college in California. So when John Elway's team, the Denver Broncos, came to California for a matchup with the Washington Redskins, it was highly uncool for the Redskins to embarrass Elway by destroying his team. It pains me that Elway lost by 32 points, 42-10. It was a pretty dull game, too, as it was never very competitive. I can only thank my lucky stars that I got to see him win Super Bowls later in his career to erase from my memory this game.

Now you, loyal reader, have made it through the bad part of the column. I am sorry for subjecting you to the recapitulation of games that I consider to be horrible. It was thoughtless of me. Your reward is now a listing of the best Super Bowls ever. If this does not more than make up for the pain that I may have caused by my cruelty, then you have the right, according to Locke, to dissolve your union with this column, as it would not be to your benefit to read on.

Five Best

Super Bowl XX: Okay, so it wasn't the closest game, as the New England Patriots got creamed by their opponent, 46-10 in Louisiana. BUT DA BEARS WON!!! They set a Super Bowl record with seven sacks, and their 96-yard touchdown march at the beginning of the second half epitomized their utter domination over the softies from out East. We can remember fondly this victory, and lament the lost chances of this year. I ask for a moment of silence now for this year's team. Now rejoice at the memory of the 1986 Bears!

Super Bowl XXXIV: This is my personal favorite game. It had everything. This was Kurt Warner's breakthrough year. Every second word out of the announcers' mouths during the playoffs had been about his amazing ascent from grocery store worker to star quarterback in the NFL. Luckily, though, the game that took place between the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans in Georgia was the only thing that could and did overshadow Warner's story. The high-octane offense of the Rams consistently pressed the Titan defense, but the Titans refused to buckle under pressure, holding the Rams to only 16 points in their first six possessions despite the Ram offense getting inside the Titan 20-yard line on each of those possessions. The outcome was undecided as the game reached the final minute, with the Rams holding a 23-16 lead, and the Titans holding the ball. Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair took the Titans to the St. Louis ten-yard line with six seconds left, and the game was on the line in the final play. McNair completed a pass to Kevin Dyson at the three-yard line. Dyson tried his hardest to reach the end zone, but Rams defender Mike Jones pulled Dyson down at the one-yard line. Dyson's outstretched arm had the football within six inches of the end zone, but it was not to be. The Rams had won the best Super Bowl ever.

Super Bowl XIII: Terry Bradshaw's spectacular performance led his Pittsburgh Steelers to a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Florida. The Steelers looked to be pulling away late in the game, but Dallas recovered an onside kick after a score and scored again to make it a game. However, the Steelers recovered the ensuing onside kick to preserve the victory.

Super Bowl XXV: What can I say? Everyone says that this was a great Super Bowl. I thought it was pretty darn good, too. But really, it was just a missed field goal that decided the game, which is boring. The New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Florida, after a hard-fought game that featured the ball-controlling Giants offense maintaining possession for two-thirds of the contest. I also think that this was a funny game, because it was the first of four straight Super Bowl losses for the Bills. That is just so sad, since they never won. At least the Atlanta Braves finally won a World Series after losing consistently in the Fall Classic. The Bills, though, finally stopped getting to the Super Bowl after realizing that they would never win. They were never as close as this first one, though, and the missed kick has got to prove that the football gods must hate this team. I guess it becomes funnier and more entertaining for me and my sick sense of humor when I can look back at their other losses. Since I can, I am ranking it in my top five. It was also the closest Super Bowl ever, by the way.

Super Bowl XXIII: This one was a Joe Montana classic. Do you remember him? The man was an amazing football player. He guided the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl Championships in the 1980s; this victory was 20-16 over the Cincinnati Bengals in Florida. The Bengals took a 16-13 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the game. Montana proceeded to take the 49ers 92 yards downfield for the winning score. He finished with a phenomenal 357 yards of passing for the game. Montana was not called the comeback kid for nothing. How many children replayed this winning drive by throwing stones to imaginary receivers in their backyards? I wish I had been Montana doing that drive. Look into your heart, you know you wanted to be him, too.

My wish for this weekend is for the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams to give us a good show. Measure their performance against these ten games I've described, and hope and pray the 2002 Super Bowl is not overshadowed by the commercials — which is still the reason that most people will watch the game.