Super Bowl XLVI will be held on Feb, 5 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Like every year the Super Bowl is the biggest sports extravaganza, a sport holiday celebrated around the world. It is the party of all parties, and the following Monday is the most used sick leave day of the year.
I was eight years old when the first Super Bowl was played on Jan. 15, 1967 in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Named the first world championship between the AFL (American Football League) and NFL (National Football League), the Kansas City Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers. I remember it like it was yesterday. Family and friends of my folks gathered, with a ton of food, laughter and cheering. And when the Packers won that game, half the house went crazy and the other half was silenced.
When I think back on all the Super Bowl Sundays, there are several that I remember for certain reasons. Super Bowl XI in 1977, the year I graduated from high school, where my Raiders hammered the Vikings 32-14 with the help of receiver Fred Biletnikoff and others in the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all.
Super Bowl XX, which was played in New Orleans in 1986 with the Da’Bears beating up the New England Patriots, 46-10. The great running back Walter Payton, the “Fridge” playing fullback on the goal line, coach Mike Ditka storming the sidelines and the Monsters of the Midway defense led by Richard Dent–priceless.
Finally, Super Bowl XXXVIII. Carolina Panther vs. the New England Patriots in Houston on Feb. 1, 2004. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, knowing that I helped build a team that was competing in the greatest sports spectacle in the world.
I lived every snap, throw and tackle. It was a strange game that went scoreless in both the first and third quarters. At halftime, we all were entertained by a duet of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. We were shocked by the flashing by Jackson of her breast with a nipple-piercing of a star. And a man posed as a referee, turned streaker, bearing the advertisement on the back of his speedo.
While NFL Films has called it one the most exciting Super Bowls ever played, ranking it in the top 10, for me the outcome sucked. Our offense struggled early and often, scored late in the fourth quarter on a pass from Jake Delhomme to receiver Ricky Proehl. On the ensuing kickoff, placekicker John Kasay booted the ball out of bounds, giving the ball to Tom Brady on the 40-yard line, with a little over a minute to play. Of course, the rest is history.
As the surreal feeling of silence came over me, it was like watching a slow-motion movie with no sound, as the New England field goal cleared the cross bar, giving the Patriots another Lombardi Trophy. I watched the streamers flying high in the air, the opposing players celebrating, several workers in yellow jackets running by us carrying giant ropes to block out the stage that was being pushed onto the field. Grown men on our side of the field crying, players sprawled all over the sideline, numb from the painstaking loss and taking it all in. The sound popped back in after I entered the locker room where the team and executives were greeted by ownership: Mr. Jerry Richardson and his two sons Mark and John, shaking hands, hugging and encouraging every single player and coach that walked through the locker-room doors. That was total class, knowing they were hurting inside as well.
I have that Super Bowl game on a DVD and have yet to watch it, because I lived it and don’t ever want to feel that pain again.