NFL – Five Greatest Super Bowl Winning Teams

10 Feb

The last of my daily Super Bowl week features is another “list” post, honoring the 5 teams that I feel are the greatest among the 56 clubs who have won the big game since it’s inception following the 1966 season. In some cases they may not have even been the top team in that particular regular season, but came up huge when it counted the most.



1. 1972 Miami Dolphins – they didn’t have a prolific offense, their smothering defense was nicknamed the “No-Name Defense”, and they won Super Bowl VII by only a 14-7 score, but it’s hard to argue against the only team to complete a season undefeated. They went 17-0 and would regularly beat opponents in lower scoring games by grinding them into oblivion with a powerful rushing attack. They also followed this accomplishment up by winning it all again the next season.



2. 1985 Chicago Bears – a wild group of misfit toys led by the biggest misfit of all, coach Mike Ditka, this team swept through the NFL in ’85 with one of the greatest one-season accomplishments of all time. They had characters like QB Jim McMahon and William “The Refrigerator” Perry, an all-time great in Walter Payton, and recorded a “Super Bowl Shuffle” video before they even qualified for the game. After going 15-1 in the regular season and sweeping through the NFC playoffs with a pair of shutout wins, they dismantled the New England Patriots 46-10 in a Super Bowl XX laugher.



3. 1968 New York Jets – they pulled off the upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, winning 16-7 and giving the AFL its’ first victory. It was considered an epic win made even more amazing because Jets’ quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed his team would win, despite being up to 18 point underdogs. This particular Jets’ team may have not even been the best the AFL had to offer, as they upset the more highly rated Oakland Raiders to get to the big game, but they turned out to be just what the young league needed on Super Bowl Sunday that year.



4. 1984 San Francisco 49ers – coach Bill Walsh’s forces finished 15-1 in the regular season and swept through the NFC playoffs but were up against a major challenge in Super Bowl XIX in facing the prolific offense of the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins. Led by the always efficient play of quarterback Joe Montana, the Niners trampled Miami’s “Killer Bees” defense, while their own defense kept Marino under pressure all day enroute to a 38-16 win.



5. 2007 New York Giants – talk about huge upsets. The Giants only qualified for the playoffs as an NFC Wild Card team with a 10-6 record, finishing second in their division, while the New England Patriots were chasing history. They finished a perfect 16-0 in the regular season and with 2 playoff wins were looking to wrap up the NFL’s second unblemished year with a win in Super Bowl XLII against a clearly inferior opponent. The Giants, with the help of the amazing “helmet catch” pictured above, pulled off the huge upset, 17-14. They did it again a few years later when they reached the big game with an even worse record (9-7) and knocked off Tom Brady’s club for the second time.


Classic Team Logo of The Day

10 Feb

Logo of a college football team that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Illinois State Redbirds. The school’s early teams, which began play in 1887, were known as the Fighting Teachers and the Cardinals, but were renamed the Redbirds in 1923. They have won 10 conference titles over the years. Former Redbirds who have played pro football include Mike Prior, Mike Rodenhauser, Dennis Nelson, Estus Hood, Aveion Cason, Shelby Harris, Laurent Robinson and James O’Shaughnessey.


Classic Sports Card of The Day

10 Feb

2004 Fleer Tradition football card of former NFL quarterback Eli Manning, who enjoyed a 16 year career in the league with the New York Giants. He was a 4 time Pro Bowler and won the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award in 2016. The younger brother of Peyton Manning, he matched his brother in Super Bowl wins with 2, both coming against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. He was the MVP in both of those games also. Since retiring, Eli appears on an alternate Monday Night Football broadcast with his brother dubbed the Manningcast.


NFL – How The Cleveland Browns Saved Pro Football

09 Feb

This article, from 2019, details my theory as to how the Cleveland Browns, inadvertently, saved pro football in the late 1960s. I’m reposting it as part of my Super Bowl week features, since it has to do with the 2 major Super Bowl upsets won by the AFL during this period.




The beginning of the growth of the National Football League into the popularity monster that it is today goes back to the 1960s and the birth of the AFL/NFL Championship game, orchestrated by the league’s commissioner at the time, Pete Rozelle. A true visionary, he refereed the battle between the old guard NFL owners and the renegade AFL owners, and out of the battle came the merger of the 2 leagues. The agreement spelled out that beginning immediately the rival leagues would hold a common draft of college players, thus ending the bidding war for players that had been going on. Another of the stipulations was that also beginning immediately, the champions of the 2 leagues would play an ultimate title game to decide who was the “world champion”. The merger agreement was made in 1966, but the actual merger itself didn’t begin until 1970. At that time, there were 16 NFL teams and 10 AFL, so 3 of the old guard clubs had to be transferred into the new American Conference. The Pittsburgh Steelers, longtime NFL doormats who perhaps saw an opportunity for more success among the AFL clubs, volunteered to go. Two franchises that had joined the NFL from another league, the old All America Conference, were natural clubs to make the move  – the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns. Browns’ owner Art Modell balked at the idea, however, but eventually agreed when Rozelle promised him that his team could host the inaugural Monday Night Football game in that first merger season of 1970.

It wasn’t Modell’s agreement to shift that saved pro football though. It was the Browns team of the late ’60s that had a hand in moving the game forward, in a very weird way in fact. The Browns were a proud, winning franchise in the NFL since joining the league in 1950, and were regular participants in the playoffs most of the decade of the 1960s. In fact, they were in the NFL title game the last 2 seasons before the leagues joined together in 1970. That’s where their contribution to saving the NFL comes in to play. The NFL had always boasted that they were the superior league, and that the AFL was a “Mickey Mouse” league full of castoff players who couldn’t make it in the older league. When the Green Bay Packers dominated the best the AFL had to offer in the first 2 AFL/NFL Championship games, doubt began to creep in on whether the merger was a good idea. The NFL owners’ “Mickey Mouse” comments were appearing to be true, that is, until Joe Namath’s New York Jets and the Hank Stram-led Kansas City Chiefs won the next 2 title contests in what were considered to be massive upsets. Those games gave the AFL a bit of legitimacy, but were they really that great of upsets? Part of the reason the Colts team that Namath beat, and the Minnesota Vikings squad that the Chiefs dominated were considered powerhouses was because they had manhandled the proud Browns franchise in the NFL title games. The Colts shut the Browns out 37-0, and coach Don Shula’s defense was expected to totally crush what was considered to be an inferior Jets’ team in the Super Bowl. The next season, Bud Grant’s Vikings, with CFL reject Joe Kapp at quarterback, completely demolished the Browns in the title game. The final score was only 27-7 but the Vikings controlled play the entire game on a bitter cold day in Minnesota.

So even though the Colts and Vikings had very successful seasons on their way to those Super Bowls, it was their dominance of the Browns that established them as heavy favorites against their supposedly weaker AFL competition. Realistically, though, the Cleveland franchise was in the beginning stages of a gradual decline at that point. Jim Brown, considered the greatest player of all time, had long since retired. LeRoy Kelly had replaced him and was a very good back, a future Hall of Famer in fact, but he wasn’t Jim Brown. More importantly, the quarterback who had guided the Browns to the 1964 title, Frank Ryan, was also gone, forced to retire due to injuries. His replacement, Bill Nelsen, was a gamer who played through injuries and was enough of a leader to get his club into the playoffs, but he wasn’t an elite signal caller. The Browns’ offensive line was aging at the time also, and their defense was a mixture of aging players and  inexperienced rookies and young players. So, in a strange way, credit is due to the Browns for making the Colts and Vikings appear to be unbeatable behemoths, who would easily crush, as Vince Lombardi’s Packers had, their AFL opponents. What those Baltimore and Minnesota clubs didn’t realize was that the AFL was already in its’ ninth and tenth years of existence, and the Jets and Chiefs had been built into true championship contenders.



Browns’ QB Bill Nelsen (Getty Images)




Classic Team Logo of The Day

09 Feb

Secondary logo of a college football team that plays in the FBS level Sun Belt Conference, the Texas State Bobcats. Playing in 6 different leagues and as an independent since 1904, the school formerly known as Southwest Texas State has won 2 Division II national championships. Former Bobcats who played pro ball include Spergon Wynn, Fred Evans, Ken Coffey, A.J. Johnson, Wade Key, Reece Morrison, Ty Nsekhe, Reggie Rivers, Ricky Sanders, Jim Stienke and Bobby Watkins.


Classic Sports Card of The Day

09 Feb

1968 Topps football card of former pro football quarterback Bill Nelsen, who was an NFL signal caller for  10 years, sharing time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. Known for being a tough-as-nails player who battled through knee injuries, he was a Pro Bowler in 1969 and a second team All Pro in 1968. Nelsen retired as a player in 1972 following his fifth knee operation, and after his playing days worked in coaching with 6 different NFL clubs, including a 6 year stint as quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay and as the Detroit Lions’ offensive coordinator. Nelsen passed away in 2019 at the age of 78.


NFL – Five Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows

08 Feb

To balance our list of the 5 greatest Super Bowl halftime shows, we present what we consider the 5 worst of them. Of course this is subjective, some people might consider our worst as their favorites. In our mind, however, these were, in Charles Barkley’s words…just  turrible.



1. The Weeknd (Super Bowl LV) – I have no idea who The Weeknd is nor do I listen to his music, but this show was downright weird. It began with a choir dressed in white with masks and glowing red eyes, and also had the star singing and dancing through a confusing labyrinth with dancers in red blazers wearing bandages on their faces and heads. I guess this was a nod to one of his albums, but I didn’t get it and neither did a lot of critics, as it was widely panned.



2. Up With People (Super Bowl X) – Up With People was a cringy singing and dancing ensemble from the 1960s that put on a show with happy, smiling people trying to convey an upbeat mood in a decade that saw political assassinations, the Civil Rights movement and Anti-Vietnam War protests. They actually were brought in by the NFL in numerous Super Bowls, but this was one where they were the headline and only act. It was January of 1976 and their show was a tribute to the country’s Bicentennial.



3. Katy Perry (Super Bowl XLIX) – ah, yes, the magical appearance of Katy and the character who stole the show, Left Shark. Ms. Perry performed her act flanked by a pair of dancing sharks, and Left Shark’s weird dance moves created a stir and launched memes on the internet. Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz also made appearances.




4. Jessica Simpson/Various (Super Bowl XXXVIII) – It was dubbed The Super Bowl Of Sleaze. I guess Jessica was the headliner of this show, but the top moment, of course, was Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, exposing a breast while she danced with Justin Timberlake. Nelly and P. Diddy also appeared, as did Kid Rock. His appearance would put this one on my worst list alone without any of the other controversy. A little known story of this game, which wasn’t on the broadcast or reported widely, was that just before the second half began, a guy ran onto the field disguised as a referee, stripped down and performed a lewd dance wearing just a thong before being tackled and arrested.



5. Anita Bryant (Super Bowl V) – apologies to the Southeast Missouri State marching band who also appeared in this one. The headliner was the homophobic Bryant, whose anti-gay stance was widely known. She hadn’t taken on that crusade at this point, but the former beauty queen’s performance was lackluster. Also putting this year’s show on the worst list – another of frequent early year appearances by Up With People.


Classic Team Logo of The Day

08 Feb

Used from 1972 until 1999, this is an old logo of a college football team that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, the North Dakota State Bison. They began play in 1894 and have claimed 17 national championships and 37 conference titles at the small school level. Amazingly, since 2011 the Bison have compiled a 149-12 record, a .925 winning percentage. They have had only 3 losing seasons since 1964. Former NDSU players who have played pro football include Tyrone Braxton, Stacy Robinson, Steve Nelson, Joe Mays, Ramon Humber, Phil Hansen, Craig Dahl and current players Trey Lance, Carson Wentz, Dillon Radunz and Christian Watson.


Classic Sports Card of The Day

08 Feb

1983 Topps football card of former pro football receiver Drew Pearson, who played 11 years in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys. He was a three time All Pro, three time Pro Bowler, a member of the NFL’s 1970s All Decade Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021. Pearson was a member of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl XII-winning club and was on the receiving end of Roger Staubach’s “Hail Mary” pass in the 1975 playoffs. Pearson, along with Michael Irvin, Dez Bryant and current Cowboy CeeDee Lamb, compose the “88” club, since all 4 wore that jersey number in Dallas.


NFL – Five Greatest Super Bowl Halftime Shows

07 Feb

The Super Bowl halftime shows over the 57 years of the game have changed drastically. From the old style marching bands of the first game to today’s Jay Z produced extravaganzas, some have been classics and some complete duds. Here are my 5 favorites, to be followed tomorrow by the 5 that I consider the worst.



1. U2 (Super Bowl XXXVI) – performing at the half of the first Super Bowl played after 9/11, the Irish rockers paid tribute to the victims of that attack. They opened the show with Beautiful Day, which was a hit single at the time but also seemed like a re-awakening to happier times. They played 2 other songs while the names of the 9/11 victims were projected around the stadium. This deserves the top spot on my list for the poignancy of the band’s tribute.



2. Rolling Stones (Super Bowl XL) – they were actually panned by critics, but I’ve always been a Stones’ fan so the old, stodgy critics can go back to watching Lawrence Welk reruns. Performing on a stage in the shape of their iconic tongue logo, they played the standard 3 songs and of course, 2 of them were censored by the NFL for lyrics the league deemed offensive.



3. Prince (Super Bowl XLI) – the eclectic guitar genius put on an amazing show, on a stage in the form of his “love” logo. He was accompanied by the Florida A & M marching band on a couple of songs, giving the performance a touch of a football atmosphere. The coup de gras was the final song, as he played his iconic hit Purple Rain in the pouring rain of Miami’s Dolphins Stadium.



4. Hip Hop Halftime (Super Bowl LVI) – I am the world’s least qualified expert on rap music, but this was an all-star extravaganza featuring old school hip hop artists Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar with a guest cameo appearance from an upside-down 50 Cent. The show was critically acclaimed as a nostalgic look back for Millennials and even won a Grammy.



5. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (Super Bowl XLII) – the late rock star and his band were chosen for the halftime show after the NFL was turned by their first choice, The Eagles. They delivered a memorable, rocking show featuring 4 of their hits as they kicked off their 2008 world tour in style. The performance earned them a Grammy nomination, but they didn’t win.