I really do love football. It is by far my favorite sport. I especially love the National Football League AND the Super Bowl. The first sporting event I remember watching as a 7 year old was Super Bowl XIV between my Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams.
As you probably know, the Super Bowl is America's number one sporting event, a sort of unofficial holiday. As Beano Cook once said, "Soon we will be exchanging gifts."
I've always found the event to be quite fascinating. You have the two best teams in the National Football League facing off in front of the entire world.
The game can make or break a player's legacy. It can instantly make someone a Hall-of-Famer or forever label someone a "loser." I think just getting there is a tremendous accomplishment for a franchise and for its fans. I still have fond memories of the Steelers playing in Super Bowl XXX even though it was the only time the Steelers ever lost the big game.
People who don't have any interest in sports whatsoever will sit down and watch this gala event even if it's just for the commercials or halftime show.
There have been 44 Super Bowls played and the first two weren't even officially called Super Bowls at the time. Initially, the game was called the "World Championship Game." It wasn't until the third year that "Super Bowl" became the official name.
The first 4 Super Bowls pitted the NFL champion against the champion of the rival American Football League. The two leagues agreed to merge in 1970 and beginning with Super Bowl V the champion of the American Football Conference has played the champion of the National Football Conference to determine the winner of the Super Bowl.
Since I love this game so much, I've decided to make a list of the ten greatest Super Bowls ever played.
I have two criteria for this list: The quality of the game and the historical significance. Every game on this list has at least one of the criteria and some even have both!
So sit back and enjoy. Feel free to agree or disagree. After all, it's only my opinion.
10. Super Bowl VII
Date: January 14Th, 1973
Location: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, California.
The Miami Dolphins defeat the Washington Redskins, 14-7.
This game wasn't the greatest Super Bowl ever played, but it was significant because, with the victory, the Dolphins achieved a perfect 17-0 record and have been the only team to accomplish that mark in the modern era. Some teams have come close, most notably the 2007 New England Patriots, but the Dolphins are still the only team atop the undefeated mountain. The Dolphins were actually the underdogs in this game which I find pretty interesting. Their counterparts, the Washington Redskins, were the oldest team in the league and dubbed the "Over the Hill Gang." This game might be most notable for Miami kicker Garo Yepremian's ill-advised pass after a blocked field goal attempt late in the game. Garo's pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown which gave the Redskins some life. But with the help of their "No-name defense" the Dolphins held on to cap their historic year.
9. Super Bowl I
Date: January 15TH, 1967
Location: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles Califorina.
The Green Bay Packers over the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.
Again, this wasn't a great contest, but it was the very first Super Bowl ever played. The NFL's Green Bay Packers were the best team in football in the 1960's, winning 5 NFL titles. They would also go on to handily defeat the Oakland Raiders in the second Super Bowl establishing them as the first Super Bowl dynasty. This game was simulcast by NBC and CBS, something that never happened before and hasn't happened since. CBS held the rights to broadcast NFL games and NBC had the rights to the AFL which led to the rare joint-telecast. Ticket prices were also quite noteworthy. Today, people have been known to pay 4-figures for a ticket. Back then, however, tickets for the contest were selling for as low as $6. Pretty amazing. The NFL would later name the Super Bowl trophy "The Lombardi Trophy" in honor of Green Bay head coach Vince Lomardi, the architect of the Packer dynasty.
8. Super Bowl XXXII
Date: January 25Th, 1998
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California.
"THIS ONE'S FOR JOHN!"
Denver Broncos 31 Green Bay Packers 24
This is the first truly great Super Bowl to make the list, and my favorite of all the non-Steelers Super Bowls that I've watched. This game had pretty much everything: back-and-forth action, migraine headaches and a first down for the ages. The Packers were the defending Super Bowl champions and were favored by 11 1/2 points. Up until that point, the Broncos had a pretty pedestrian Super Bowl history, appearing in four but losing all by a pretty large margin. Quarterback John Elway was the captain of three of those Denver debacles and at age 37, was in the last years of his career. Bret Favre, on the other hand, was in his prime and considered by many to be the best qb in the game. Also, NFC teams had a dominating 13-game winning streak over the AFC in the Super Bowl and most of the games were very lopsided. Things were expected to hold true to form for both the Broncos and the AFC in SBXXXII but with the help of stud running back Terell Davis and a pretty good defense, John Elway went on to claim the one thing that eluded him: The Lombardi Trophy. This game is probably best remembered for Elway's helicopter-esque flip after being hit by two Packers while diving for a very important first down. Another minor little tidbit was the migraine headache that Terrell Davis got after forgetting to take his medication. Denver coach Mike Shannahan had to use Davis as a decoy for part of the game until his symptoms cleared. Davis went on to score the winning touchdown in the final minutes to secure the championship for the Broncos.
I believe this game deserves to be on the list not only for the great play, but for what it meant for John Elway's legacy. Had he retired without winning the Super Bowl, he would still be a Hall-of-Famer, but he would be in the same class with guys like Dan Marino, Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly. Quarterbacks who were great, but could never win the whole thing. Elway played one more year and went out with a bang as the Broncos repeated as champs winning Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway was named game mvp and with two rings, could be put in a class with guys like Bradshaw, Montana and Starr.