Woody Paige's 'History of the Super Bowl': What games have made memories

HOUSTON — And, the winner, for the best Super Bowl performance is . . . the envelope please.

Who will it be this year?

Who has it been for the First Fifty?

I haven’t witnessed all of them. I was a junior in college when the first AFL-NFL World Championship was held. The game actually wasn’t called the Super Bowl until Lamar Hunt, the late owner of the Chiefs, saw his young son (now the Chiefs’ chief) playing with a “”Super Ball’’, and that’s how simply the name was derived.

I have covered 41 Super Bowls, a strong number in comparison to most people, but not to three sportswriters – Jerry Green (retired from The Detroit News and Dave Klein and Jerry Izenberg, both former columnists for The Newark Star-Ledger) who each are attending their 51st Super Bowl – and still writing about the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.  (My good friend Edwin Pope, forever the sports editor-columnist for The Miami Herald, covered the first 49. His paper wouldn’t send him last year for No. 50. He died a couple of weeks ago. Newspapers died a long time ago.)

I’m missing this one in Houston. I’m on IR with C.J. Anderson Malady – a torn meniscus. Doctors have told me I can’t play football again. Good.

But I have enough memories, thank you, and I don’t want to go next year for 52 in Minneapolis.  You can figure out why.

So, here are my personal best-ranked Super Bowl performances in order: (1) Teams, (2) Plays, (3) Games, (4) Individual players, (5) Commercials, (6) Halftime shows and (7) National Anthem, with an asterisk indicating that I saw the events in person.

Top Teams:

10. *Seahawks (XLVIII)

9. *49ers (XXIX)

*8. Steelers (XIII)

7. Undefeated Dolphins (VII)

6. *Cowboys (XXVII),

5. *Broncos (XXXII)

4. *Washington (XXVI)

3. Packers (I)

2. *Bears (XX) 

*1. 49ers (XXIV, with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and a 55-10 victory over Broncos)

Top Plays:  

10. *Jermain Kearse touchdown catch (XLIX)

9. *James Harrison 100-yard interception return for touchdowns (XLIII)

8. *Lynn Swan circus catch (X)

7 *Marcus Allen reverse-direction 74-yard touchdown run (XVIII)

6. *John Riggins fourth-down run for touchdown (XVII)

5. *Santonio Holmes touchdown catch (XLIII)

4. *David Tyree helmet catch (XLII)

3. *Mike Jones game-saving tackle just short of goal line on last play of game (XXXIV)

2. *John Elway helicopter play (XXXII) 

1. Malcolm Butler interception at the goal (XLIX)

Top Games:

10. * XXXII (Broncos 31, Packers 24)

9. *XXIII (49ers 20, Bengals 16)

8. *X (Steelers 21, Cowboys 10)

7. III (Jets 16, Colts 7)

6. *XXXVI (Patriots 20, Rams 17)

5. *XXIV (Rams, 23, Titans 16)

4 *XXV (Giants 20, Bills 19)

3. *XIII (Steelers 35, Cowboys 31) 

2. *XLII (Giants 17, Patriots 14)

1. *XLIX (Patriots 28, Seahawks 24)

Top individual performance:

10. *Marcus Allen (XVIII), 191 yards rushing, including the record 74-yard run

9. Timmy Smith (XXII), Super Bowl high 204 yards rushing

*8. Doug Williams (XXII), four touchdowns and a then record 340 yards passing

7. *Terry Bradshaw (XIII), four touchdowns and 318 passing yards

6. Jerry Rice (XXX), 11 receptions for 215 yards

5. Joe Namath (III), guaranteed victory and became first AFL quarterback to beat NFL in Super Bowl

4. (Tie) *Phil Simms (XXI), completed 22 of 28 passes, three touchdown throws, *Kurt Warner (XXIV), 414 yards passing and two touchdowns

3. *Terrell Davis (XXXII), three rushing touchdowns and 157 yards, and played the first half with a treble migraine

2. *Joe Montana (XXIV), five touchdown passes and 22 of 29 completions for 297 yards

1. *Steve Young (XXIX), a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes and 325 yards passing

Top Commercials: (I was asked by ESPN years ago to be on a panel to decide the top 10 Super Bowl commercials.)

10. Bud Bowl (1989), Budweiser

9. Larry Bird vs. Michael Jordan h-o-r-s-e shooting contest (1993), McDonald’s

8. Betty White playing football (2010), Snickers

7. The Man You Could Smell Like (2010), Old Spice 

6 Your cheating heart Coca-Cola delivery driver (1996), Pepsi

5. Cindy Crawford (1992), Coke

4. Where’s The Beef (1984), Wendy’s

3. 1984 Orwellian McIntosh introduction (1984), Apple 

2. Mean Joe Green and The Kid (1980), Coke

1. Frogs and Lizard talking and singing (1995), Budweiser.

Top halftime shows:

10. Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers (XLVIII)

9. Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears (XXXV)

8. Katie Petty (XLIX)

7. Paul McCartney (XXXIX)

6. Rolling Stones (XL)

5. Michael Jackson (XXVII)

4. Bruce Springsteen (XLIII)

3. Prince (XLI)

2. Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (XLVII)

1. U2 honoring 9/11 victims (XXXVI)

Top National Anthem:

Unanimous decision: Whitney Houston (XXV)

Let’s hope the Super Bowl makes some new memories Sunday. I’m picking Falcons, 33-30, in overtime.

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