During the two weeks preceeding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.
The last, but in some ways not least of the my list was the final Super Bowl ever to be played in January. It featured two teams that have since gone southward in their fortunes since they met in San Diego. Continue on for the breakdown of the Sideways San Diego Sunday.
Tampa Bay Bucs 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Semi-Lame Nickname: The Gruden Bowl
Historical Significance- 3: The Raiders were riding the Autumn Wind back to prominence on the California Coast. Tampa had finally broken through after years of failure in the playoffs. The twist was the coaching impact on the NFL. Tony Dungy had been ousted and Gruden had been snatched away from the Raiders. Dungy landed with the Colts and the rest, as they say, is history.
Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 2: The game was a blowout, with the Bucs scoring 17 in the 2nd quarter after a 3-3 1st quarter tie. It was not enjoyable unless your were a Tampa fan and the second half was a formality. The Raiders could only cut it to 34-21 before the Bucs pulled away for good.
High Profile Element- 3.5: The Gruden factor was no doubt compelling, and the rest of the game was a mish mash of notable names. The Raiders had the bookend Hall of Famer wideouts Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Rich Ganon had flourished in the offense that John Gruden on the opposing sidelines had helped craft. The Raiders boasted the number one offense, but on the other side was a league-leading defense. Led by Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice on the front line, Derrick Brooks at middle linebacker, and John Lynch with Ronde Barber in the backfield, the Bucs defense held sway in this game.
Venue/Atmosphere- 3.5: Isn't it great how you get to here how great a city San Diego is every time a sporting event transpires there? I am pretty sick of it myself, and while I am sure the Whale's Vagina is heavenly, it does not blow me away(I'd move there in a second though). The logo gets points for having a phallic quality. Do people still remember that Qualcomm used to be Jack Murphy Stadium? For the national anthem, the Dixie Chicks and Celine Dion sang God Bless America. Not my cup of tea, but I all Toby Keithing aside, I've listened to 'Fly' a couple times in my day. I do not for the life of me get the whole Celine Dion thing. It sounds to me like she is choking on the most elegant frog ever in existence when she belts it. I thought that one song about it all coming back to her was decent until Meatloaf covered it and he freakin slaughtered that bitch.
The Halftime show was headlined by Shania Twain. Hottie no doubt, but opening a football contest halftime show with 'I Feel Like A Woman' is not what I was looking for, and I am pretty sure she lip-synced those opening songs. No Doubt and Sting came in for mop-up duty.
This promo was the shit though:
Personal Enjoyment- 2: This game held little interest for me outside of the whole Gruden aspect. My team(**Disclaimer: Yes, my fandom of the Patriots comes into play in this countdown, since how I viewed these games often had a correlation to the team and how they did that season. But rest assured, no Pats Super Bowl is in the top 3 for various reasons as you will see.) had not even made the playoffs but this was before the Patriots were the bunch they were now, 2001 was a bonus and I doubted they would reach the big game again. I still enter every Super Bowl (unless my team is in it) like everyone else hoping for a close game. This one obviously disappointed.
Cleet's Rating Index: 14
Where I was: I was halfway through my senior year at the U, and by this point I was completely mailing it in on my Biology Degree. I made the mistake of switching Super Bowl parties at halftime and ended up at the lamer of the two. Since the game was unwatchable this was a lose-lose.
What Happened In The World: Two days before the game the Department of Homeland Security began Operations, don't you feel safer?
Record of Note: Jerry Rice caught a 48-yard TD pass and became the first player to catch a TD pass in 4 different Super Bowls.
Game MVP: Dexter Jackson had 2 picks of Ganon, he had 17 in his entire NFL career. Not the first time a DB parlayed a big Super Bowl into contract dollars. Jackson had declared for Free Agency before the game, and was eyed by the Steelers but signed with Arizona so Pittsburgh ended up drafted some guy named Polamalu.
LVP: Each game in the countdown will also have a Least Valuable Player. For this game it goes to Barret Robbins. For Robbins it truly is a sad story and the intent is not to disparage his bipolar condition. But dude, you were a Pro-Bowl center with your meds, should have stayed on them. The Raiders center went on a massive bender the week before the game and was given the boot. Ganon was sacked 5 times.
Most Memorable Play: Courtesy of NFL Films(3:45 in the vid here), Jon Gruden's knowledge of the Raider offense was on full display as John Lynch announced a play as "Sluggo 6" before a snap in the 2nd quarter. I learned from Jon on MNF that a) he has a nickname for everyone, "I'm gonna call this guy the torch hurler!" and b) a "sluggo" is a slant and go. MVP Dexter Jackson must have heard Lynch because he jumped the rout and picked off Ganon. This is the kind of knowledge that makes it ridiculous to argue that the Pats spied on the Rams before Super Bowl 36; the Bucs had intimate knowledge of the other team before the Super Bowl.
NFL Fallout: The Raiders have yet to recovered from this game. Calahan was gone after going 4-12 the following season. The Raiders are yet to win more than 5 games in a year since this game. Little hope remains for the franchise while Al Davis rules it from his sarcophagus. On the other side the Bucs had a decent run with Gruden; aside from the title, they made the playoffs two more times but never advanced far. They have since scrapped the entire Gruden operation and are starting from scratch. Ronde Barber remains as the only remnant of the Super Bowl defense.