Sunday, February 05, 2017

My 40th Super Bowl

Butch Johnson makes the circus catch in Super Bowl XII.
The first time I remember seeing the Super Bowl was in January, 1978. Super Bowl XII. I was nine.

My brother had it on in his bedroom (we shared a room until fall, 1977...poor bastard), and I either stumbled in or was invited in. I might be wrong, but I feel like it was on a black and white TV.

His missive was clear: he wanted the Denver Broncos to win that night. He wasn't a particularly big Broncos fan (he, like my dad, was a Jets fan, having watched them train at Depew Park in Peekskill in the '60s).

One thing was clear: he hated the Dallas Cowboys. That was good enough for me. A year later, in a story I've often told, thanks to my classmate and friend, Patrick Urell (a Cowboys fan), I took a twenty-five cent bet on Super Bowl XIII. I didn't know who they were playing as we spoke that day in Mr. Salvestrini's fourth grade classroom at Austen Road Elementary School

All I knew was that I was not to root for the Cowboys.

"Who are they playing?"

"The Steelers."

That was enough. There they were, in black and gold, with the quarterback driving them down the field on the opening drive. Touchdown Pittsburgh.

"I like this guy Bradshaw," I said.
Terry Bradshaw at the helm, Super Bowl XIII.
That was it. In some ways, a life was changed. I found my football team and football hero. I found my passion for football, having been at best a moderate Dolphins fan before that (we used to go Florida every year when I was a kid). It didn't hurt that this Bradshaw guy went into broadcasting, by the way.

So here I sit, wearing a Terry Bradshaw jersey, and will soon turn on the TV to watch Mr. Bradshaw on the Fox TV pregame, rooting for the hated New England Patriots (oh, I still dislike the Cowboys plenty) to lose to the Atlanta Falcons today.

Have I mentioned the Steelers have won six Lombardi Trophies?

I've seen enough bad Super Bowl games to last a lifetime. We've also been blessed with some dynamite games. We watched the halftime show go from forgettable (Up With People! Gloria Estefan!) to whatever it is now.

The whole thing has become less and less about the football fan. That train left the station, I'd say, 20 years ago or so.

Heck, even the commercials are often released before the game now, so that's changed also.

It's evolved so much. I wish we could go back to Up With People and the crowded locker room trophy presentation.

I watch for the game itself, and I've seen a lot.

Super Bowl XIII in 1979 was brilliant, and that should be a game to make anyone love football. Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 (Note: Patrick never paid me the quarter). After that, we went into a lull of bad games in the 80's. Even the Niners/Benagls game of 1989 was middling until the final drive.

Niners/Broncos was the worst. Only Seahawks/Broncos approaches it in my estimation.

Giants/Bills was a terrific game in 1991. Especially the fourth quarter.

The Steelers made their way back a few times as well. I don't discuss Supes XXX and XLV. Larry Brown. Rashard Mendenhall. Nope. However, I can still hear the Seahawks fans whining about XL (Get. Over. It.). XLIII was blistering, and among the most emotional nights I've known as a sports fan for a variety of reasons.

Yes we've just about seen it all. We haven't seen an overtime game yet, but we've seen a power outage. A nipple. And the most overrated halftime show ever (I mean, Prince was not...that...good).

We also saw the Black Eyed Peas and Madonna and The Who and Coldplay. Yikes.

Anyway, away we go in a few hours. May the best team (please're our only hope) win.

We'll all likely talk about things other than the game tomorrow. Commercials...Lady Gaga...National Anthem...blah blah blah.

I'd like to talk about the game. We'll do that all at 3pm tomorrow afternoon on WGCH (and

Enjoy the

Pitchers and catchers report in a few days.

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