Super Bowl Memories
February is a month that brings with it certain rituals.
These include Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day and, thanks to the expanded National Football League schedule, Super Bowl Sunday.
We are now on Super Bowl 44 (I see no reason for the use of Roman Numerals, especially with sporting events), and all of those games have taken place during my lifetime.
Yet, when I reflect on memories of Super Bowls past, I can't seem to conjure more than a casual recollection for most of them.
The primary reason for this is that I am a New York Jets fan, and when your favorite team makes it once in four decades, Super Bowl Sunday is an exercise in watching other fans' teams battle it out for the Big Prize.
Unless your team is playing or you are attending a party that day, you are viewing the Super Bowl because it's your patriotic duty to watch football on this day. If you are a Patriots fan, you have no excuse this year.
My favorite Super Bowl is SB3, the Joe Namath Guarantee game over the Colts. From an historical point of view, that game shaped the way professional football is today, since it gave the upstart American Football League a stunning upset over the old establishment NFL.
On a personal level, however, I was just eight years old when that game took place, so I never saw it in real time. Sometimes, I think it's a figment of somebody's imagination, like the Heidi game.
Fortunately, through the magic of NFL Films, I have been able to see highlights of the Day The Jets Were Super.
The first Super Bowl I can actually remember watching was SB4. I watched it at my grandparents' house. I, the Nine-Year Old Football Expert, was convinced there was no way the superior Minnesota Vikings would lose to the Kansas City Chiefs. My grandfather made a bet with me and took the Chiefs, then watched me fume as Len Dawson and company prevailed over the Purple People Eaters.
The lesson I learned that day? Never take the Vikings to win a Super Bowl.
Actually, wagering is a huge part of the Super Bowl experience, whether you are participating in your office pool or betting on more esoteric items such as which team will win the coin toss or who will score the first touchdown. In any regard, millions of dollars will be changing hands Sunday after the Indianapolis Colts face the New Orleans Saints, probably enough to jump start the economy faster than any stimulus money.
What I remember most about Super Bowls past are great plays, such as Lynn Swann's diving catch, John Riggins' TD ramble, Joe Montana's two-minute drill, David Tyree's juggling reception and Santonio Holmes' shoestring snag, as well as some not so great plays, like Garo Yepremian's attempted pass and Scott Norwood's missed field goal.
As a Jets' fan, my heart is with the Saints, since this is their first-ever Super Bowl, and I can understand that kind of pain and frustration. It's the fourth time for the Colts. I also have a brother who lives north of New Orleans, so the Saints are my vicarious rooting interest Sunday.
The Colts are coached by rookie head coach Jim Caldwell, a one-time assistant at Penn State under Joe Paterno. They also have Peyton Manning, who when he's not lick-racing Oreo cookies against Donald Trump is as good a quarterback as there is today, although Drew Brees is no slouch himself.
Peyton's dad Archie was a long-time Saints QB, so there's the irony factor as well if Peyton leads the Colts to victory, which I think will happen.
Chances are, most of the talk at the office the next day will be about the commercials, as usual.