(Sunday Paper, Volume III, Issue 4)
I really love the Super Bowl.
Well, I don't love this particular Super Bowl, but that's another story for another day.
I'm kind of surprised I've never written about this before - Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year.
Think about it - it's numbered (and it uses Roman numerals!), it's a high-stakes football game, there's multiple, um, pool opportunities (square pools! prop bets!), and it's something that was relatively new (only 20 or so) when I became conscious of it. It's perfect for me.
And I've had some good times surrounding the Super Bowl.
Allow me to share some of those memories with you.
A couple of general Super Bowl notes: One of my free gifts from Sports Illustrated back in the early 90s was a college and NFL football almanac. It had a ton of information about college football, which I couldn't wrap my head around, but it had a section on the Super Bowl that I dove into and ate up. I loved it. And if you had talked to me at any point in the nineties I probably could have rattled off any Super Bowl matchup, the MVP of the game, and maybe even the winners' and losers' shares.
I kept track of that information until I went away to college or thereabouts, and then still loved the games but became less obsessive about the stats.
And every Super Bowl weekend (and every other time they aired, but mostly Super Bowl weekend because that's when ESPN showed them all in a row all weekend) I watched the half-hour Super Bowl highlight videos so I knew the story of a lot of the games that happened before my time.
So let's break this down by Super Bowl and whether or not there's something I associate with that game, OK? And if you have a memory that stands out to you put it in the comments below or on the Facebook page.
- The first Super Bowl I have a distinct memory of watching was Super Bowl XXI, because the Giants were in it and it seemed like New York was all swept up in the Giants. This was my first opportunity to hop on the Giants bandwagon and enjoy watching football games for the rest of my life instead of putting myself through torture as a Jets fan. (The Jets were also good this year. They won a first round playoff game, of which I have no memory...and then lost in the second round, a game I distinctly remember. We had family over to watch the game. I kicked the wall when the Jets lost. They lost to the Browns. THE BROWNS!! I should have known what was coming the rest of my life.)
- I have a pretty good memory of the Bears and Super Bowl XX the year before that but I don't remember actually watching the game....and Super Bowls XXII through XXIV similarly were unremarkable to me. I have another distinct memory from watching Super Bowl XXV but it's not a particularly fun one and I'll just say that I remember it so the other 7 or so people (and one dog) who experienced it know that it didn't go unacknowledged.
(Also, the week after the Giants won Super Bowl XXV my friend's mom took us to a nearby hotel that had an expo featuring Super Bowl XXV champs Giants gear. I think I might have gotten a sweatshirt but I didn't care much about the Giants. Opportunity number two to hop on the Giants bandwagon gone.)
- Super Bowls XXVI through XXX were my wheelhouse - the Cowboys dynasty, the Bills' four straight losses, Steve Young's big win, so many memories. The best memory, though, was we had my cousins over for one of the Cowboys-Bills games and there was a cake, and I had those little plastic helmets that you got in the bubble-gum machines. (Except they weren't bubble gum, they were little plastic capsules that had NFL helmets in them.) I gave the Cowboys and Bills helmets to my mom and she used them as decorations to top the cake. My uncle pulled one (I believe it was the Bills helmet) off the cake and did a gagging act and then a crunching act and said, "Wait, those were plastic?!?! I thought it was candy!" And I bought the act, freaked out thinking he ate the helmet, and then he pretended to spit the helmet out into his hand.
It was still maybe the greatest live performance I've ever seen.
- Super Bowl XXXI was significant because it was my freshman year at college and the Patriots were playing and I was in Boston and it was exciting! The home town team was in the Super Bowl! And they were playing the Packers, the team I rooted for when the Jets stunk (which was most of my childhood), so I couldn't lose watching this game!
- I watched the next two at college. Super Bowl XXXIII was significant because the Broncos won their second in a row but beat the Jets in the AFC Championship, which was a new kind of heartbreak for me.
- I told you a couple of weeks ago I watched Super Bowl XXXIV during the presidential primary coverage in New Hampshire, and Super Bowl XXXV again featured the Giants. (Opportunity number three!)
- And then Super Bowl XXXVI featured the Patriots again, which was still a novelty...and they won! It was exciting. I watched that with Kathy's family and it was nice to see their team win.
And then there was never another Super Bowl again. I'm not sure what happened to that event. But I guess they decided America had had enough. Wonder what I'll do next Sunday without it.
*I'm just kidding. We all know there have been lots of Super Bowls in the past 17 years...and that I missed out on two more opportunities to jump on the Giants' bandwagon. Why, though, you ask, am I writing about the Super Bowl this week rather than next Sunday, commonly known as Super Bowl Sunday? Well, next week is also "John is back in the Sunday Globe" Sunday, so the Sunday Paper will be kind of a supplement to that piece. Should be a fun week - stay tuned. Might be able to post the article before Sunday - I think it'll be out on-line before then, and then in the print version on Sunday.
*Got back out this week - it felt good. Checked out a couple of shows on Monday, another couple on Wednesday (the second of which I got to go on stage unexpectedly), and then hit an open mic Thursday. Don't have a lot of heavily booked stuff until late February and into March but I'm just trying to get to as many mics as I can between now and then so the rust doesn't build up too much. (Because when I did get on stage Wednesday it was fairly rusty.)
What I've Been Enjoying
*I finally read George Saunders' Lincoln In The Bardo this week. It was definitely not what I was expecting - it was (obviously) really well-written and from a different perspective than I realized. It makes me want to go back to the interviews I had heard with him when the book first came out - I feel like I need to re-listen to them through the context of now having read the book. It was sad, which you'd probably expect if you understood the basic premise of what the book was about. If you haven't read George Saunders before I wouldn't necessarily recommend you start with this one - maybe give Tenth of December a shot first to get a feel for his style first. I'm actually thinking I need to re-read that one, and then maybe give this another read soon. Glad I finally dug into it.
*One more bonus point for Lincoln In the Bardo - the chapters are in Roman numerals! Good surprise fortuitous timing so close to the Super Bowl.
*You do realize this Super Bowl hurts my brain, right? Not only because the Patriots playing in another one makes me sad, but the fact that it isn't even a new matchup. Patriots-Eagles happened in Super Bowl XXXIX, which, I was explaining to my kids recently, wasn't all that long ago...then I realized it was long enough ago that it was before any of them were born.
*One last Super Bowl fact: Interesting that I barely remember one of the first truly great Super Bowls of my childhood - Super Bowl XXIII between the 49ers and the Bengals, featuring a last-minute game-winning Joe Montana touchdown pass. That game should stand out to me because according to my research that was the Super Bowl where the Bud Bowl made its debut. And I LOVED the Bud Bowl, and I have distinct memories of that. So why don't I remember the real football game?
*I can no longer recite for you the winners' and losers' shares of the Super Bowl or MVPs but I recently tried to run down all Super Bowl participants and did pretty well. I think I'd take you on in a Super Bowl-off if you challenged me. (A Super Bowl-off is a term I might have just invented where we take turns naming Super Bowl participants until one of us is wrong.)
*Sorry for the sports-heavy post. I do try to limit them, but I was thinking about how much I enjoy the Super Bowl and figured there must be others who feel the same way. So, seriously, chime in - share your favorite Super Bowl memories.
*Super Bowl Sunday, of course, also means the Puppy Bowl - that's been a big pre-game hit in this house the past couple of years. Looking forward to that.
*That picture at the top of the post is an old magnetic NFL board I used in my childhood. It had a dry erase spot to put the weekly scores, magnetic helmets that you could arrange into standings, and at the bottom was a spot for the playoffs. It had two extra blank spots which I could kind of pretend were the Jaguars and the Panthers when they entered the league, but the board really became obsolete when the NFL realigned the divisions. (And actually when Seattle switched leagues, come to think of it.) It's sitting in my garage and it might be time to trash it - it's in rough shape. Glad I got one last use out of it.
*Really interesting melting going on this year. (Oh man. I can't believe I devote a bullet to the melting snow every week. I think I have a serious problem.) I think there are enough big snow piles from all the plows around that we're not going to be down to zero snow before the next time it snows, but it's highly unusual to have such an almost-complete snow melt in January with so much snow already having fallen. What do you mean you haven't noticed this?