Super Bowl Preview: I'm not sure how many times we can hear the following:
- · A Broncos win would solidify Peyton Manning's legacy
- · The top ranked defense has only lost the Super Bowl once
- · The top ranked offense has lost a bunch of them
- · The Seahawks secondary will give Manning a difficult time
- · The weather could be a big, no wait, shouldn't be a big, no wait, if the game goes long enough, it might be a big...
- · Marshawn Lnch needs to play well to keep Peyton Manning off the field
- · Russell Wilson needs to play well to keep Peyton Manning off the field
- · Broncos coach John Fox missed a month with heart problems, yet his team is one win from a Super Bowl championship
Instead of trying to add anything to the overwhelming hype for one football game, I'm going to think back on some of my own Super Bowl memories before making my prediction for today's game...
- · Growing up, I was a huge Baltimore Colt and Johnny Unitas fan. The Colts had rolled through their regular season schedule in 1968, posting a 13 - 1 record and rode a wave of momentum into the Super Bowl against the AFL's New York Jets in Miami's Orange Bowl. Unitas, very much like Peyton Manning, was trying to add a second world championship to his storied resume. Jets' QB Joe Namath instead created his own legacy, leading the prohibitive underdogs to a huge upset victory. To this day, it is the single most disappointing sporting event I can remember.
- · By the time 1972 rolled around, I had become a Washington Redskin fan and behind energetic and optimistic George Allen, of whom Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reminds me, advanced to the Super Bowl against the undefeated Miami Dolphins. Miami's defense stymied the Redskins' offense that day and won, 14 - 7. The only score for the 'Skins was the infamous pick six thrown by Dolphins' kicker Garo Yepremian.
- · My close friend in high school and college, John Dean, was a big Oakland Raiders fan. Of course, until 1977, the Raiders had a frustrating postseason history, especially against the Pittsburgh Steelers. We were sophomores at Virginia Tech when the Raiders finally made it to the Super Bowl behind QB Ken Stabler and coach John Madden. That Sunday, we got dumped with a couple of feet of snow in Blacksburg and I remember walking from my dorm to John's apartment to watch the game. The Raiders were playing another frustrated team, the Minnesota Vikings, who had lost three of the last seven Super Bowls. Happily for John and the Raider nation, Oakland won 32 - 14, and to make things even better, classes were cancelled for the only time in my five and a half years at Virginia Tech.
- · In 1982, the NFL season was shortened by a strike, which also altered the postseason. But when the dust settled, my Redskins had advanced to the Super Bowl once again to play the Miami Dolphins. Coach Joe Gibbs had brought the 'Skins back from mediocrity and re-energized the fan base. Outgoing QB Joe Theismann and outrageous RB John Riggins led an otherwise blue collar group to Pasadena. Late in the game, the outcome was still in the balance when John Riggins broke off the left side of the line in what I believe is the greatest play in Super Bowl history. It wasn't just great because it turned out to be the clinching touchdown, but because it also began a run of four Super Bowl appearances and three wins in ten years for the Redskins. Eventually, Joe Gibbs would leave for NASCAR, but not before setting the stage for his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As Redskins fans, we've suffered through over twenty years of frustration, but that one play still looms large in our collective memory.
- · The following season, the Redskins waltzed through the season 15 - 1 and rolled their two playoff opponents for the right to play the Raiders in the Super Bowl. In what may be the biggest upset in history, the overconfident and underprepared 'Skins were embarrassed by Marcus Allen and the Raider defense 38 - 9.
- · Mike Ditka led what was perhaps the most dominating team in recent memory against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 1986. There was no way this one was going to be a contest from the beginning, and it didn't surprise anyone that the Bears won 46 - 10. The biggest surprise might have been that the Pats even scored at all. But my memory is one that I believe was a show of arrogance or perhaps lack of judgment by the Bears coach. Late in the game, the Bears were knocking on the door for a touchdown, something the great Walter Payton had yet to get in his career. Instead of giving the ball to the future hall of famer and now late Payton, the Bears chose instead to run a gimmick play to defensive tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry. I have always thought the move showed incredible disrespect for Payton.
- · In 1988, I had just had knee surgery when the Redskins met John Elway and the favored Broncos in the Super Bowl. I was attending a party and because the 'Skins were playing, probably had more than my share of adult beverages prior to the start of the game. By the time the second quarter started, Denver had jumped out to a 10 - 0 lead, and it didn't look good for Washington. It took a long time to hobble to the bathroom, so I decided to go as the 'Skins took over deep in their own territory. While taking care of, well you know, the room erupted in cheers as Doug Williams, the first African American to start at QB in the Super Bowl, hit Gary Clark for a long touchdown pass. The next couple of times I made my way to the bathroom, the 'Skins scored a touchdown. I finally saw the next one that gave Washington a 28 - 10 lead on their way to a 35 -10 halftime lead and ultimately a 42 - 10 victory.
- · It's interesting to be in another country on Super Bowl Sunday. It's especially interesting when you actually live in the city of one of the teams playing in the game. In 2003, Tampa Bay was playing the Oakland Raiders in San Diego. I was in Munich, Germany on business and had flown in earlier in the day. Of course, the game doesn't start until 11:30 pm in Germany. The hotel had a nice lobby bar and there were a few Americans staying at the hotel and we had assembled there to watch the game. I don't remember much about the game itself, but what I do recall is that the play by play was in German and unlike the broadcast in the U.S., they played the same two or three commercials throughout the game. Just before halftime, it was just me and a guy from Orlando left and the bartender informed us that the place was closing. Instead of kicking us out, however, he put a bucket of beers and the remote on table. All he asked was that we turn off the television and put the bucket on the bar when we were done. I didn't make it to the end of the game, but I did make it to the office on time later that morning!
Prediction: If you've seen my predictions all season, you know I sometimes pick with my heart. Anyone reading this has no doubt heard the experts break down the X's and O's, generally agreeing that defense wins championships. But great quarterbacks also win championships, whether it was Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Bret Favre, John Elway, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Today, I'm going with the team led by who I believe is the best quarterback in the history of the game.
Denver Broncos 27 Seattle Seahawks 23