The annual ritual for armchair quarterbacks, casual sporting fans, and deep-pocketed advertisers grabbed the attention of most of the television viewing world on Jan. 25. Much time was spent on the pre-game, halftime, and national anthem ceremonies. Advertisers poured millions of dollars into carefully crafted commercials that featured naked athletes, jealous lizards, and clay baseball players. Oh yeah, a football game was played, too.
The event I am hinting at is of course the Super Bowl. The heavily favored Green Bay Packers battled the Denver Broncos, proving that you should always root for the underdog. Amidst the lavish celebration and obnoxious commercialism emerged one of the best Super Bowls ever, as Denver snared the victory by the score of 31-24 at San Diego's Qualcom Stadium.
I usually hate the Super Bowl. For the most part, the games are lopsided, noncompetitive, and overshadowed by the game's "festivities." The NFC team always enjoys a favorable advantage, claiming the last 13 Super Bowl titles. Big time advertisers try to grab some of the spotlight with their innovative commercials that encourage us to go to the fridge for another beer, or if we have the time, buy one of their glorious sports utility vehicles. Let us not forget the most unforgivable sin that occurs on Super Bowl Sunday, the lip-syncing of the national anthem.
While these "festivities" did exist in full force for this game, they did not match the excitement of the enthralling contest. The game was not decided until the final minute of play. Bret Favre, Green Bay's quarterback, failed to complete a pass on fourth down, and turned the ball over to Denver. Denver graciously accepted the pigskin, and kneeled the ball down twice, running out the clock, and solidifying their 31-24 victory.
Terrell Davis was voted the games MVP, rushing for 157 yards on 30 carries, and scoring 3 rushing touchdowns. The last touchdown elicited some controversy after the contest. With Denver on the 1 yard line, second and goal, Coach Mike Holmgren of the Green Bay Packers instructed his defense to let Denver score. His reasoning was that Denver would score no matter what, and he wanted to get the ball to his star quarterback, Favre, with enough time to score. Favre got the ball back with 1:45 left on the clock, marched his troops all the way to Denver's 30 yard line, but failed to tie the game up.
Holmgren displayed considerable arrogance by assuming that he could put himself down seven points, and then regain the points and head into sudden death. Holmgren also admitted after the gain that he thought it was first and goal, rather than the actual second and goal. This is the biggest game of the year, and he does not know what down it is? That is terrible coaching. Holmgren also let his team get caught up in its own success. The Packers were heavily favored going into the game, and Green Bay thought they had already won it before they took the field. For this performance, the Packers will go down as just another one hit wonder, rather than the dynasty they could have been if they had taken Denver seriously.
In the end, this was a great game, which is all I can ask for as a sports fan. I am willing to put up with all of the hoopla, if the game has some substance, which this certainly did.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 13, February 6, 1998
Contact us with your comments and suggestions.