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It’s Super Bowl time again (hallelujah) and we thought we’d take the time to put together a list of the ten most epic Super Bowl moments in NFL history, so grab a cold one and your giant tub of popcorn and enjoy this trip down memory lane.
These are ten iconic moments that happened before, during or after a Super Bowl game, including (but not limited to) a couple of the amazing things that players have done on and off the field.
It’s all in there – halftime magic, pre-game musical glory, incredible national crisis support, and some mouth-dropping football plays, so enjoy our compilation and feel free to add your own favorite epic Super Bowl moments in the comments below.
Overweight, gap-toothed fans have few idols to look up to, but Chicago Bears 330-pound defensive tackle/end William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry is definitely a hero to anyone who’s ever been told that they are too large to do the job.
Perry, also nicknamed ‘The Fridge,’ played professional football from 1985 through 1994, mostly for the Bears and in the end for the Philadelphia Eagles, but the moment that sealed his claim to fame was when he was placed in the Bears’ offensive backfield in Super Bowl XX.
The Fridge took the ball and bullied ahead behind his front line and scored a touchdown and then famously big-guy spiked the ball in the end zone, sealing his reputation as a large man on defense who could get the job done offensively.
Just because there’s football going on doesn’t mean the rest of the world doesn’t carry on, good and bad, and that was true during Super Bowl XV while the Iran hostage situation was happening and during Super Bowl XXXVI, just after the attacks on 9/11.
During the Super Bowl XV in 1981, as a tribute to those hostages that were being held in Iran, the New Orleans Super Bowl (where the event was being held) donned a gigantic yellow ribbon on its side to represent the hope that every one of them would return home safely, a hauntingly beautiful sight for a shocked a frightened people.
In the middle of Super Bowl XV, Irish rock star Bono and his band U2 performed and it’s still known as one of the greatest halftime shows ever for a few different reasons.
Not only did Bono sing wonderfully and his band play spot on, it happened just after America was attacked in New York City on 9/11, and the words of their songs and their spoken words played during the performance (and Bono’s USA-flag-lined jacket) perfectly comforted a mourning nation and offered hope in a moment of true despair, fear and sorrow.
For just the tenth time in NFL history, a backup quarterback leads his team to a Super Bowl victory as “Saint” Nick Foles steps in (and up) for the Philadelphia Eagles and leads them to a 41-33 win over Tom Brady and his New England Patriots.
Coincidentally enough, the last quarterback before Foles to accomplish this same feat was…Tom Brady, who stepped in as a backup in 2001 and won Super Bowl XXXVIII over the Carolina Panthers by a score of 32-29.
To add an extra layer of epic to Foles’ accomplishment, he caught a touchdown pass using a trick play in the game that was from then on known as the ‘Philly Special,’ with tight end Trey Burton tossing the score to the waiting (and nervous) Nick Foles.
Giving the winning head coach a Gatorade Bath (that’s when players dump the remaining icy cold fluid on the back of their leader after a victory) is common nowadays, but it didn’t use to be.
The first time a head coach was given a GB was after Super Bowl XXI when the New York Giants beat the Denver Broncos by a score of 39-20 to conclude the 1986 NFL season.
At the end of the game, several players decided to prank their head coach, Bill Parcells, by lovingly (and respectfully) dumping a cooler full of ice-cold Gatorade on his back, thus starting a tradition that continues on to this day.
Commercials have been a huge (and costly) part of the Super Bowl experience, and in a couple of cases they have caused a cultural phenomenon to erupt, and at number five on this epic list are two examples of this.
During Super Bowl XIV, a commercial ran showing notoriously “Mean” Joe Green chugging a Coke and tossing his stained and sweaty jersey to the kid who gave it to him (“Hey kid, catch.”), solidifying Coca-Cola as the go-to soft drink for a long while.
And during Super Bowl XVIII, a commercial ran with three tiny old ladies staring at a lame fast-food burger, asking the soon to be infamous question, “Where’s the Beef?” and a new national catchphrase was born.
One of the most famous moments in NFL history happened just three days before the third-ever Super Bowl in 1969, when the underdog AFL champion New York Jets were facing the defending NFL champion Baltimore Colts.
Despite the Colts being favored by 17 points, the Jets flashy quarterback, nicknamed “Broadway” Joe Namath for his proclivity for long fur coats, late nights and beautiful women, made a prediction that was heard around the world.
His Jets won that game 16-7, solidifying his reputation as a football stud.
Super Bowl XLVIII was special for a few good reasons, the first being it featured two Harbaugh brother head coaches (John of the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens and Jim of the 11-4-1 San Francisco 49ers) facing off against each other, with John’s Ravens ending up winning that Big Game by a score of 34-31.
Another factor that put this one on the map was the stadium blackout that occurred just after halftime and lasted for over a half-hour (34 minutes), caused by a device that was, ironically, installed to prevent a power outage.
The electricity failure happened just after the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones returned the opening 2nd half kickoff for a 108-yard touchdown, and in retrospect, the sudden blackout seemed to kill the Ravens momentum and turned a potential blowout into a close game in the end.
This “Blackout Bowl” incident even caused one of the most iconic Tweets ever to be sent out:
The term “Wardrobe Malfunction” has become overused when it comes to stage mishaps under pressure, but the original one was something that caused a lot of heads to turn and it happened during one of the most talked-about Super Bowl halftime shows in the history of the event.
The show featured pop stars Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, who sang a duet together that seemed to be going just fine, until suddenly Justin seemed to whip away Janet’s leather jacket, revealing one of her nude, ahem, Jackson Two, shocking family audiences who’d tuned in from around the world.
This supposedly unrehearsed ‘bodice-ripping’ incident caused much debate about censorship and preventing similar such incidents in the future, but it will always be remembered as the day a naked breast was exposed on national TV during a football game, and that is definitely epic.
Seeing as this is an article about football, there should be at least one item representing all the epic Super Bowl plays that have happened on the field of play during the 53 years the event has been going on.
The play most football fans agree is the most miraculous, the most amazing and jaw-dropping of them all is the famed helmet catch that happened during Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.
This was back when Eli Manning was still a factor, and in the final two minutes of this epic battle, he eluded a certain shirt-tugging and body twisting sack to throw a miracle pass to wide receiver David Tyree, who caught the ball by holding it against his helmet as he fell to the ground.
It’s one of those epic, game-changing football plays that every fan remembers, so it becomes our number one entry on this top-10 list.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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