Despite what you may have heard, there will be a Super Bowl played this Sunday even though the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t be in it.
Fans here in the Steel City have definitely been spoiled by the Black and Gold’s success throughout the years. Because we’re so accustomed to being in the big game, Super Bowl Sunday becomes slightly anti-climatic when our team isn’t actually playing in it. Oh, we’ll still watch because Pittsburgh is football country. And occasionally we do have a rooting interest, such as this year when we’ll once again pull for our NFC cousins to upend the hated New England Patriots.
If you’re tired of hearing about Rob Gronkowski’s ankle or Peyton Manning’s giraffe neck (Here I thought Eli Manning was the one starting in the Super Bowl. If my big brother stole the spotlight as shamelessly as Pey-Pey, I’d smack him.), you can prepare for kickoff by reliving some glorious moments from years past. Vivendi Entertainment recently sent me a DVD entitled Greatest Super Bowl Moments. As you may expect from being a fan of the most successful franchise in NFL history, the DVD is veritable treasure trove of fond (and a couple depressing) Black and Gold colored memories.
The DVD is produced by NFL Films and if you’ve been a football fan for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with their fantastic productions. Starting in 1967, when the game was still called the World Championship of Football because the term “Super Bowl” hadn’t been coined yet, the games are covered chronologically up through last year’s heartbreaker between the Steelers and Green Bay Packers. Each game is given 5-10 minutes of highlights, which may sound skimpy until you realize the entire DVD clocks in at almost 2 1/2 hours. The early games are mostly highlights until we get to the 80s, then there is a lot more behind the scenes stuff in terms of mic’d up coaches and players. If you’re a young football fan, it’s a great historical record of the most important game of every season while if you’re an older fan, it’s fun to revisit the memories of years past.
Paying particular attention to the Steelers segments, so many things jumped out to me. While the Steelers first two championships were defensive tour-de-forces, Terry Bradshaw really stepped up big time in the final two. In fact, all the Super Steelers wins were fairly tight games, with the first against the Cowboys and the last against the Rams being particularly close. I’ve seen these highlights in various forms over the years and you need to see some of the catches Lynn Swann made to appreciate what an incredible talent he was.
Fast-forwarding to the 90s, I totally forgot Super Bowl XXIX where the unbearable Steve Young finally won a title of his own by absolutely humiliating the over-matched San Diego Chargers. The Chargers, of course, upset the Steelers in the AFC Championship game (DAMN YOU, TIM MCKYER!) and I have to think the Steelers would’ve put up a much better fight. The next season was arguably our darkest hour, losing to the Cowboys thanks to Neil O’Donnell’s ineptitude. This was the first time in probably ten years I’ve had the stomach to revisit XXX and it still riles me up to see Jay Novacek wide open in the end zone thanks to an (illegal) pick play by Moose Johnston and Neil’s two boneheaded interceptions. On the first one, there wasn’t a black jersey within 15 yards while, and believe me I hate to say this, I can almost forgive the second one since it came on a blitz. O’Donnell made the hot read and got rid of the ball but the receiver (I believe it was Andre Hastings) never broke off his route.
Then we have our recent run of success. The Super Bowl XL highlights are particularly amusing when you hear ‘ol Walrus Mug Mike Holmgren whining about Ben’s controversial touchdown dive. And even though we’ve seen The Catch that brought us to Sixburgh, I’ll never stop marveling at how Big Ben was able to drop that game-winning touchdown pass over THREE Cardinals in order for Santonio Holmes to make his toe-dragging catch. Ben Roethlisberger should’ve been MVP for even attempting that throw.
Anyway, every year around this time ESPN begins running the NFL Films Super Bowl highlight programs one after another for almost twenty-four straight hours in anticipation of kick-off. If you don’t have the time or patience to sit in front of the boob tube for literally an entire day, this DVD is the perfect distillation of all those programs. While this disc is called Greatest Super Bowl Moments, it’s more like a comprehensive history of the Super Bowl. Currently on sale for $12.99 on Amazon (or you can find it at your local Best Buy or Walmart), you really get maximum bang for your buck. So if you’re interested in football history in general or Steelers history specifically, check it out.
And in the meantime, let’s hope when the next edition comes out updated with highlights from Super Bowl XLVI, it’ll end with a shot of Eli Manning hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.