Growing up in a pro football fanatical family (New York Giants), I consider myself blessed to have attended two Super Bowls. Both were in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (Which puts every other Super Bowl host to shame. It is without a doubt the most historic, and breathtakingly beautiful football stadium in the world. Shame on the NFL for throwing it in the trash heap with the rest of Los Angeles.) I attended the 1983 game (XVII for you Romans) Redskins-Dolphins and 1987 (XXI) Giants-Broncos. As opposed to the current May Day in Russia spectacle that the Super Bowl has become, these were celebrations of teams and fans.
What I remember about the Redskins-Dolphins game was watching the fans known as "The Hogs" (Grown men dressed as women with pig snouts) roaming the picnic area before the game. I understood the snouts, but could never figure out why they dressed in drag. Oh well, who am I to judge?
As we took our seats, a package of goodies along with three two-sided colored cards were given to us. We were told not to toss the cards onto the field because the crowd would be a major part of the super halftime festivities. When halftime arrived, we were admonished over the PA system to remain in our seats (No bathroom or beer breaks per Disney) and take out the cards. As the halftime show began on the field, we saw nothing and only heard Big Brother booming over the PA telling us to hold up card number one on the count of ten. And don't screw it up! Millions if not billions are watching us on TV so do as you're told! I thought for a moment about holding up the wrong color at the wrong time, but was starred down by everyone else in my row. You don't mess with the Super Bowl.
Just before the start of the second half, the referee bounded down the aisle next to mine and jumped onto the field. We all thought it was a little strange that the ref spent halftime in our section hob-knobbing with the fans. It wasn't until six plays in that someone counted and discovered that there was an extra ref on the field. The cops chased him around, caught him and dragged him off to Super Bowl Gitmo as the crowd cheered.
Finally a football related memory. Fourth quarter. Fourth and three somewhere at midfield (We were sitting in the end zone), Joe Theisman handed off to John Riggins who broke a couple of tackles on the left side and rambled down the field right at us for the winning touchdown. The closer he got, the more you could see the intensity in his eyes. It was as if he was going to run right into our arms. One of the most historic moments in Super Bowl history and I was there.
The next Super Bowl was very special. I had made a deal with my Dad that if the Giants ever got into the Super Bowl, we'd go. Turns out they finally did and the game was in my own backyard, the Rose Bowl. Seems a lot of my friends who grew up in New York also made the same promise to their fathers so they flew out, we rented a van and a group of us set out for Pasadena.
Apparently all of New York was there. Giant fans outnumbered Denver fans ten to one. Our seats were up about eight rows from the top in a corner of the end zone but my Dad and I didn't care. The Giants were in the Super Bowl and we were there. The first half was okay, Denver led 10-9, but we Giant fans had no doubt as to who would prevail.
As the halftime extravaganza unfolded on the field (Michael Jackson, George Burns, Neil Diamond, Mickey Mouse and the Beach Boys in a clusterf*** of humanity and inaudible chaos) we celebrated as if we were ahead and the Bronco fans sat mute, conceding to the inevitable. (No card stunts this time. New Yorkers don't "Do" card stunts.)
The greatest moment for me was just before the second half. Denver ambled out of the locker room first as the PA played John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High." Cute. Then came the Giants to the accompaniment of Sinatra's "New York, New York." Every Giant fan stood and sang along at the top of their lungs. The players took their cue and ran onto the field in a frenzy. As we got to the last line of our anthem ("It's up to you...") everybody boomed out the lyrics, the foundations of the old stadium shook and the Broncos and their fans knew they were finished before the third quarter had begun.
Of course now you know Phil Simms had the game of his life and the Giants crushed Denver. On a more historical note, Harry Carson snuck up behind head coach Bill Parcells and dumped a cooler of green liquid over his head, the first recorded Gatorade shower in sports history. My Dad and I hugged and cried as we saw a lifelong dream come true. The Giants.. Our Giants had won the Super Bowl.
After the game it was like New Year's Eve. Everybody seemed to have a tape of "New York, New York" and we stopped and sang along dozens of times. Finally we reached the van and broke out the champagne, sharing it with anyone wearing blue. My friend Bill got so drunk that he ate the remaining hero sandwiches that we left in the hot van six hours before and then puked them up as onlookers cheered and serenaded him with another chorus of "New York, New York."
We were drunk and on top of the world and we were sharing it, father and son. That's what the Super Bowl is all about.