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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments: 50 to 41

In the United States of America, the Super Bowl is far more than a just a football game.  The Super Bowl is one of the biggest cultural events in our county.  On February 7, 2016, our nation will gather to celebrate this game for the 50th time.  The golden anniversary of America's most important game is worthy of more than just the usual prediction column.  To celebrate Super Bowl 50, Banshee Sports is going to count down the 50 most memorable Super Bowl moments of all time.

In this first installment, I present Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments:  50-41.

James Harrison pick six
50.  James Harrison's Pick 6.  The #50 moment is one of the more recent moments on this list.  As the first half was drawing to a close in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 10-7.  With 18 seconds left to go in the half, the Cardinals had the ball on the Steeler's 2-yard line.  On first and goal, James Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner's pass on the goal line.  Harrison took the ball 100 yards in the other direction for a Steeler's touchdown.  The Steelers would need every one of those points as they won a thrilling 27-23 game to capture their 6th Super Bowl championship.

49.  Eugene Robinson Pays Dearly for Sex.  Not everything that influences a Super Bowl actually happens on the field.  Some of it happens the night before.  During the 1998 season, Eugene Robinson earned his 3rd career pro bowl selection for his excellent safety play for the Atlanta Falcons.  On the day before Super Bowl XXXIII, Eugene Robinson was awarded the Athletes in Action Bart Starr award for displaying exemplary character on and off the field.  Robinson celebrated that award by trying to pay an undercover police officer for sex.  Thanks to his arrest for solicitation, Robinson got very little sleep the night before the game.  We will never know if that is the reason why the pro bowler got burned for an 80-yard touchdown and missed a key tackle in the Falcons' 34-19 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Jack Lambert and the Steel Curtain in Super Bowl XIV
48.  Jack Lambert Rules the Day.  The Pittsburgh Steelers have won a total of six Super Bowls.  The first three came in the 1970's when the team from the Steel City was led by its Steel Curtain defense.  The 1979 Steelers captured their third title of the decade with a win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.  Although the Super Bowl MVP went to quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the wisdom of hindsight largely credits Jack Lambert for tallying 14 tackles and capturing interception as the key to the Steelers' victory.

47.  The King of Pop in Pasadena.  As I said in the introduction to this column, the Super Bowl is bigger than just a game in our country.  This was clearly true when the Michael Jackson performed the halftime show in the Rose Bowl at Super Bowl XXVII.  The world stopped for this performance.  Back in 1993, there was no criminal or sexual baggage attached to the King of Pop.  With the California sun setting over the San Gabriel Mountains, Jackson's entrance alone, narrated by James Earl Jones, was worthy of making this list.  If you don't remember this show, then you should just watch it.

46.  Clydesdales on the Gridiron.  As aggravating as it may be for sports fans to hear party guests state that they only watch the game for the commercials, there is no denying that Super Bowl commercials can become pop culture cornerstones.  Budweiser has had many memorable Super Bowl commercials, but perhaps their most beloved commercial involved their iconic Clydesdales playing football on the dusty plains.  The 1996 ad was beautifully shot and ended with classic commentary from a pair of observing cowboys.  The Clydesdales lined up for a rematch in the snow in 2003, but the original will always remain the fan favorite.

45.  To Coin a Term.  It was not until the third year of the AFL-NFL Championship Game that the "Super Bowl" got its name.  Lamar Hunt, the legendary owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, coined the term "Super Bowl" at a league meeting prior to Super Bowl III.  That game between the Jets and the Colts lived up to its new name and will be mentioned again later in this countdown.  Five decades later, it is hard to imagine the game with any other name, but at the time, the moniker was met with a lukewarm reception. Hunt himself admitted that the term was just a derivation of "super ball," his kids' favorite toy at the time.

44.  The Assassin.  Jack Tatum's play from Super Bowl XI is on this list not so much for its impact on the outcome of the game but because it is emblematic of a bygone era in America's favorite sport.  It was an era when catching passes in the middle of the field presented a legitimate health risk.  Not just a risk of a game-ending injury but a risk of a life-altering injury.  It was an era where it was deemed appropriate for a football player like the Raiders' Jack Tatum to embrace the nickname "The Assassin."  Tatum's helmet-to-helmet hit on the Vikings' Sammy White did not draw a penalty.  In fact, White held onto the ball for a completion.  Led by Tatum and the rest of their fearsome defense, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI.

43.  Twice as Nice.  Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of fond Super Bowl memories, but in Super Bowl XXX Larry Brown turned the Steelers' championship dreams into a recurring nightmare.  The Cowboys' cornerback picked off Steelers' quarterback Neil O'Donnell twice in the second half.  Those interceptions led directly to 14 Cowboys' points in what turned out to be a 10-point victory for Dallas.

42.  The E*Trade Baby.  Like Joe Montana, the E*Trade Baby basically won four Super Bowls.  The online trading company debuted the talking baby commercials during Super Bowl XLVI.  The baby appeared in numerous commercials between 2008 and 2014, including spots in four different Super Bowls.  Thanks to the E*Trade baby, the term "shankapotomus" is now a golf course staple.

41.  Rookie to the Rescue.  Super Bowl V matched the Dallas Cowboys against the Baltimore Colts.  This game included several unexpected heroes.  Johnny Unitas' name was synonymous with the Baltimore Colts in the 1960's, but injury forced the legendary quarterback to the sidelines in the first half.  Earl Morrall led the Colts on a game winning drive on their final possession of the game.  It was rookie kicker Jim O'Brien who capped off the 16-13 victory with a 32-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining in the game.

Moments 50-41
Moments 40-31
Moments 30-21
Moments 20-11
Moments 10-1

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