Forgive the re-run from last year (with a small amount of new material), but I still claim this is a fun way for football fans to recall the places they've been...
Last night was the 31st Super Bowl I’ve watched. In the span of those 31 years, I’ve lived in twelve different domiciles in six different towns in five different states with eighteen different people (NOTE: last year, it was seventeen. I have a three-month-old daughter now!). I’ve watched Super Bowls in 22 different places. I’ve gone from being a seven-year-old to having a seven-year-old.
I decided to bung down a paragraph about my memories of each Super Bowl, and I’ve found that doing so was a good way of remembering people, places, and times that I hadn’t thought about in awhile. Please add your own memories in the comments.
1977 (1st grade): Cowboys over Broncos - As I mentioned in this post, I’m not sure if I really remember this game or if I’ve just convinced myself that I remember it.
1978 (2nd grade): Steelers over Cowboys - The only clear memory I have of this game is that I forced my brothers (who weren’t nearly as into football as I was) to go outside and play football with me at halftime. We played for what seemed like hours and hours. But when we went back inside, it was still halftime. Super Bowl halftimes are long. I guess that’s a lesson we all have to learn the hard way.
1979 (3rd grade): Steelers over Rams - My family went to a Super Bowl party at some friends’ house. Nothing memorable about this one.
1980 (4th grade): Raiders over Eagles - I watched this game alone in my parents’ bedroom; I guess the rest of the family wanted to watch something else on the main TV. This was the first time (of many) that the result of a Super Bowl really made me mad. I was a Seahawk fan back in those days, so I disliked the Raiders. And my dislike of the Cowboys put me on the Eagles’ bandwagon at an early stage of the season. Plus Kenny King was a Sooner. It all adds up to a disappointing game.
1981 (5th grade): 49ers over Bengals - I remember very little about this game. This one, in fact is the only one that I don’t know where I was when I watched it. I was rooting for the Bengals (loved those stripes!) and was displeased with the outcome, but I don’t remember anything else. Oddly, I do remember both conference championship games — The Catch and Air Coryell in the cold — vividly.
1982 (6th grade): Redskins over Dolphins - I watched this one at home. It was on the main TV, but I don’t remember anyone watching it with me. Another disappointment, as I liked the Killer Bs.
1983 (7th grade): Raiders over Redskins - I went to a friends’ house to watch this one. True story: for English class, we had to write a bunch of poems. One of mine included this nifty rhyme:
But seriously folks, the Skins will win,
By 3, sixteen, or a-hundred-and-ten
I have since tried to forget about that poem, but I have a friend from that 7th grade English class who continues to remind me about it to this day. I was rooting for the Skins, so the game itself was another letdown, but I distinctly remember this particular game teaching me about the value of good cornerbacks. Mike Haynes’ and Lester Hayes’ domination of Charlie Brown and Art Monk left a big impression on me.
1984 (8th grade): 49ers over Dolphins - I had a friend over to my house to watch this one, and he wasn’t really into football. I’m not sure why he was over that day, but I didn’t get much of this game watched. Probably for the best as it was the fifth straight year that the side I was backing came up short.
1985 (9th grade): Bears over Patriots - I remember watching this at my house, but don’t remember who, if anyone, was watching it with me. I did not like either team and didn’t have much of a rooting interest either way.
1986 (10th grade): Giants over Broncos - I went to a Super Bowl party at a local pizza establishment. There were girls there. I played down the crazed football fan act, but the ladies were somehow still able to keep their hands off me, which allowed me to get a lot of actual game-watching done. I hated Elway and did not yet hate Parcells, so I was pleased with the outcome.
1987 (11th grade): Redskins over Broncos - I watched this at a friend’s house with several other buddies (no girls this time). Elway certainly did not do anything during the 1987 season to make me stop hating him, so this was another happy outcome.
1988 (12th grade): 49ers over Bengals - This was with essentially the same group of guys as the previous year, but at a different friend’s house. I remember the Tim Krumrie play, of course, and the revolutionary 3D commercial. I didn’t watch the commercial, mind you. I just remember that there was one. I also remember that there was some debate about whether the 3D effects would still be present if you recorded them on a VCR. Whatever rooting interest I had was pretty mild and dissolved quickly enough to allow me to appreciate a great game.
1989 (freshman in college): 49ers over Broncos - I watched very little of this game. NFL football actually slipped pretty far down the priority list during my freshman year.
1990 (sophomore in college): Giants over Bills - Football was back in my routine and I watched this in my dorm room with the kind of rotating mob of slobs that was and is the norm in dorm rooms the world over. Like the 49ers/Bengals game of two years ago, this was a great game. Unlike that game, the final outcome prevented me from enjoying it. Mostly, I was rooting for former Oklahoma State Cowboy Thurman Thomas. But there was more. Back in my hot youth, I used to get frustrated when the “better team” (as determined by me, of course) didn’t win. I’ve softened on that quite a bit over the years, but this one really burned me up.
1991 (junior year): Redskins over Bills - I watched this in my apartment with essentially the same bunch of slobs as the previous year. To me, this game is most memorable as the backdrop of the first Simpsons Super Bowl episode: Lisa the Greek.
1992 (senior year): Cowboys over Bills - I watched this at my apartment with a smaller bunch of slobs. I was a big Cowboy fan at this time and so loved every minute of this game. Having already admitted to disliking the Cowboys earlier, I’d better explain why that changed. It was because of Jimmy Johnson. He was, of course, the head coach of my Oklahoma State Cowboys for a time, so that’s good. He never beat the Sooners while he was in Stillwater, but he made up for that by moving to Miami and becoming the only guy who could beat the Sooners during the late 80s. When he got hired by the Cowboys, and started bringing Hurricanes with him, it was only natural that I would start rooting for the Cowboys.
1993 (grad school): Cowboys over Bills again - I watched this with a relatively small group of people at the apartment of a friend. This game was not particularly notable.
1994 (grad school): 49ers over Chargers - I watched this with a group of people I barely knew, but it wasn’t an organized enough affair to constitute a Super Bowl Party. Not a memorable game or event.
1995 (grad school): Cowboys over Steelers - this one happened just a few blocks from my apartment in Tempe. Classes were cancelled the Friday before the game. I did not indulge in any of the pre- or post-game craziness because, well, because that’s just not the kind of thing I enjoy indulging in.
If I recall correctly, the NFL offered 200 tickets to ASU students and faculty via a lottery. As a grad student / TA, I was eligible to enter both the student lottery and the faculty lottery. I won neither, so watched the game from my apartment. Careful readers of the 1992 recap will not be surprised to learn that I really hated the Cowboys at this point and was ticked off about this game. Also, it was (and still is) frustrating to have to explain to people that possibly, just possibly, Neil O’Donnell wasn’t necessarily at fault for those ugly interceptions.
Sobering side note: Just last week, I was talking Super Bowl with a student in my class. I asked him which Super Bowl was the first one he remembered. He answered this one.
1996 (grad school): Packers over Patriots - I watched this one in my apartment with a roommate who was a great guy but did not like football. I did not like this Packer team but also didn’t want a really crummy New England team to win, so I was indifferent to the outcome.
1997 (grad school): Broncos over Packers - I think this is my favorite Super Bowl of all time. I didn’t really like the Broncos, but I had warmed just a little to Elway, Terrell Davis had carried my fantasy team for a couple of years, and I was really sick of the Favre schtick, so I was rooting for Denver pretty hard. I watched this game all by myself, and I think that was a big part of why I enjoyed it so much. Super Bowl parties can be fun in other ways, but they certainly do alter the way you watch the game. This was just like a normal football game, but it happened to be a really, really good one.
1998 (grad school (yeah, that’s six years, you wanna make something of it?)): Broncos over Falcons - I went to a full-fledged Super Bowl party and enjoyed it about as much as you can enjoy one, I guess. Not a memorable game. I was rooting for the Broncos, but wasn’t too heavily invested in it.
1999 (I’m not sure how to categorize myself at this point. Let’s say age 28): Rams over Titans - We had just moved to New Hampshire and my wife and I were invited to a Super Bowl party at the home of some friends. My wife and I had, at this point, been together for six Super Bowls, but this is the first time she had ever watched one with me. As far as I know, it may be the first time she ever watched one period [Update: no, it’s not, she informs me. “People watch the Super Bowl,” she says]. My son, not typically a raging crier, decided to scream his head off for the entire first quarter and into the second. Eventually he fell asleep, but it was really draining and by the time the game was over I didn’t much care what the heck happened in it. I am an Isaac Bruce fan, though, so was glad to see him have a good game.
2000 (age 29): Ravens over Giants - I was at a job interview from Saturday through Monday of Super Bowl week. They put me up in a bed-and-breakfast, which was nice but had no TV in the room. The people in charge of keeping me entertained were friendly, so I felt comfortable offering up a semi-serious, “where am I supposed to watch the Super Bowl.” The response was, “hmmm, I guess the Super Bowl is this weekend, isn’t it? Hmmmm. Maybe we can find someplace for you to watch it.” As it turns out, there was a dinner planned at someone’s home for Sunday night anyway, so all they had to do was flip on the game. It’s not clear if they would have turned it on were it not for my request.
I was not offered the job.
2001 (age 30): Patriots over Rams - I watched this at my house with my friend JC (of sabernomics fame), and our wives. I won’t discuss the game itself because it would violate the self-imposed probation agreement that this blog agreed to after the Patriots Rant, but the company was good.
2002 (age 31): Bucs over Raiders - I watched this in the same location and with exactly the same cast of characters as the previous year. Again the company was good, but the result was dissatisfying. I never really have like the Raiders, but I had just won a postseason fantasy football pool by loading up on Raiders, so I had gotten into the habit of rooting for them.
2003 (age 32): Patriots over Panthers - I went to a full-fledged Super Bowl party hosted by some people I barely knew, where there were lots of people that I didn’t know at all. Generally I wouldn’t enjoy watching the big game under those conditions but it worked out well in this case, because my Patriot hatred was at its all-time peak and social norms prevented me from working myself up into an embarrassing frenzy.
2004 (age 33): Patriots over Eagles - I watched this one at JC’s house with a small group of people. By this time, the Patriots’ performance had actually caught up with their reputation, and Tom Brady and Corey Dillon had been helping my fantasy team for more than a year, so I wasn’t as anti-Patriot as I had been in 2001 and 2003. I was rooting for the Eagles, but not so much that I was unable to appreciate a pretty good game.
2005 (age 34): Steelers over Seahawks - My dad, who is not at all a football fan, just happened to be in town visiting on Super Bowl Sunday. We watched the game together and he was kind enough to humor me while I explained to him how annoying the Steelers are. This rather long post details how I became a Seahawk fan for two weeks in early 2006.
2006 (age 35): Colts over Bears - All of my emotional energy was spent on the Patriots/Colts game, so I found myself mostly indifferent towards the Super Bowl. I find Peyton Manning to be pretty irritating, but not nearly as irritating as the people who are constantly dumping on him. And I like Tony Dungy. So I’m glad the Colts won, but it wouldn’t have bothered me much if they hadn’t.
2007 (age 36): Giants over Patriots - I've stated before that I hate the Patriots, but no more than the normal amount. It's probably not a good idea for me to go into too much detail about all the things I enjoyed about this game. I'll just say that the super slow-mo shots of Rodney Harrison grasping vainly at Kevin Boss, and then gazing in disbelief at David Tyree, were very satisfying. My wife, who was in the next room, noted that I was much more animated than usual during this game. I tried to explain the significance of it to her, but was unable to successfully communicate the exact reasons why it was so interesting.
In the bigger picture, this game brought back memories of the Titans/Rams Super Bowl, during which my at-the-time three month old son screamed for most of the first half, because my now-three-month-old daughter outdid her brother by extending the screaming into the second half. These two are/were, as babies go, not big screamers, but they apparently do not like Super Bowls. Also notable is that the game started at 5:20ish, but I didn't even turn it on until a little after six. I had it on the DVR, and caught up at about halftime. After about my second round of skipping through commercials, I realized that this wasn't a normal game commercial-wise. I had a brief debate with myself about whether I should watch the commercials, ultimately deciding to skip them anyway.
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