With Super Bowl LI two weeks away, I recently began thinking about some of my memories of Super Bowls past. It seems the Super Bowl, like Major League Baseball’s World Series, can hold quite a bit of significance over the years, and some can be more unmemorable.
My earliest recollection of even caring about the Super Bowl was in 1973, when all I remember hearing the grown-ups talking about was what an awesome season the Miami Dolphins had, going undefeated all the way to Super Bowl VII. Then, as I witnessed on television on that Sunday evening, January 14, 1973, the Miami Dolphins kept their streak alive by defeating the Washington Redskins, 14-7, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Dolphins did what no other team has done, before or since, and finished the year with a perfect 17-0 record. That’s when I became a fan of the Miami Dolphins. They had been to the Super Bowl the year before, and were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys, but now they proved a team could play a whole season without even one loss.
The next year, the Dolphins were back in the Super Bowl, and I was hooked. Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, Bob Griese, Howard Twilley, Garo Yepremian; these were the names of players whose football cards I was collecting, and since they played for Miami, they were placed at the front of the shoe box, in front of all the other teams.
That year, the Dolphins solidified my love for the team by winning Super Bowl VII by defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-17.
Ironically, this all happened while living just 70 miles south of Orchard Park, N.Y., the home of the Buffalo Bills. I was young then and didn’t know much about the Bills, except I had heard of O.J. Simpson, but that was about it.
Around that same time, my cousin Kevin, who was a big Dallas Cowboys fan, encouraged me to become a Cowboys fan, as well. Why not? The Cowboys were very good and they were “America’s Team.”
Dallas had already been to the Super Bowl in 1971 and 1972, and now they were set to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X. Since we lived in Western New York, many of my family members were rooting for Pittsburgh, which was less than 200 miles to our south. I, however, was cheering the Cowboys. Well the Steelers won, 21-17, and I was pretty upset about that, in fact, I was so upset I had a difficult time sleeping that night. My dad was not happy that I took the game so seriously, he threatened to never let me watch football again. I sucked it up and went to school the next morning.
Two years later, the Cowboys were back in the Super Bowl – 1978 Super Bowl XII. This time Dallas beat the Denver Broncos, 27-10. I slept a lot better that night.
The next year proved to be another tough one for this Cowboys fan, as the Steelers beat the Cowboys once again in Super Bowl XIII, 35-31.
In the mid-1980s I finally became a fan of our local team, as I spent two seasons covering the Buffalo Bills for a radio station in my hometown. As I got to interview some of the players, I decided to begin rooting for the team, and quickly became a big Bills fan, as I am to this day.
The four straight Super Bowl appearances by the Bills (1991, 1992, 1993,1994) were both exciting and heart breaking. No team has ever won a conference title four years in a row, but to lose all four of those Super Bowls was just terrible to endure as a Bills fan.
Adding to the agony was the fact that Buffalo played my other favorite team, Dallas, in the last two of those Super Bowls; losing to the Cowboy 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII and 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII.
The Bills have never been back to the Super Bowl since that last one in 1994. The Cowboys did play the Steelers, yet again, in Super Bowl XXX, and this time around Dallas won, 27-17.
Since 1996, I haven’t had any reason to care one way or the other about the Super Bowl, as my teams haven’t been a part of the big day for 20 years. This year will be no different. Once again it will be the commercials and food that will be the focus at my house.