Scoring the Super Bowl

NFL Films' music may be stirring, but these songs tell the real story of the big games

 Cue the godlike voice of NFL Films narrator John Facenda: "Early every year, 22 brawny men with grit, guile and poise join in gladiatorial combat not seen since the glory that was mighty imperial Rome. This is the Super Bowl, a contest pitting strength against strength, desire against desire, the game at which mere mortals are anointed immortals and the legends are etched in stone. An epic and ferocious ballet of truly titanic proportions, the Super Bowl is larger than football, larger than America, larger than the confines of this whirling blue ball we call Earth. Simply put, the Super Bowl is larger than the universe. To the triumphant go spoils unequaled; to the vanquished, only dismay as bottomless as the ocean..." End Facenda voice, in a swirl of trumpets, cellos somberly sawed and rat-a-tat snare drums.

That's all well and good, and Facenda's voice already has been put to excellent use, not only on the innumerable NFL films in perpetual heavy rotation on ESPN Classic, but also on the 1998 CD The Power And the Glory: The Original Music & Voices of NFL Films. While that's an imposing CD, stuffed to the gills with the brass-heavy and kettle-drum-driven subgenre of light classical that should be called "football music," not to mention Facenda's gravely Olympian commentary, that's not what we're after with this column. What we propose is a soundtrack for the Super Bowl, a list of songs that capture the theme of each game. So rev up your CD burners and get cracking:

1967: Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10

Story: Little-used, aging and admittedly hungover Packer wide receiver Max McGee catches seven passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Song: "Bloody Mary Morning," by Willie Nelson

1968: Green Bay 33, Oakland 14

Story: Bart Starr spearheads a balanced Packer attack.

Song: "The Leader of the Pack," by the Shangri-Las

1969: New York Jets 16, Baltimore 7

Story: In a historic upset, Broadway Joe Namath guarantees a win, and then pilots the Jets to the AFL's first Super Bowl triumph.

Song: We'll go with "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," because apparently Joe likes both smooching and vino a little too much.

1970: Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7

Story: Len Dawson's crisp passing and a swarming Chiefs defense conspire to send the Vikes to the first of several Super Bowl losses.

Song: "All Along the Watchtower," by Jimi Hendrix. You just can't evoke the hippie era without it, and you can imagine the Vikings' offensive players saying things like, "There must be some kind of way outta here," "There's too much confusion" and "I can't get no relief."

1971: Baltimore 16, Dallas 13

Story: Reserve QB Earl Morrall replaces an injured Johnny Unitas and leads the Colts to victory, despite seven Baltimore turnovers.

Song: What else but the monotonous "Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl"?

1972: Dallas 24, Miami 3

Story: Roger Staubach throws for two TDs and the Dallas D clips the Fish's fins.

Song: David Bowie's "Major Tom," since Staubach kinda looks like what we imagine Major Tom would look like.

1973: Miami 14, Washington 7

Story: Miami caps off the only perfect season in modern NFL history behind crushing defense and Larry Csonka's 112 rushing yards. Nobody really remembers that. What people do remember about this game is Dolphin kicker Garo Yepremian's ludicrous "pass" -- easily the worst in history -- that was intercepted by Redskin Mike Bass and returned for a touchdown.

Song: Yepremian's ridiculous blunder screams for "Yakety Sax," that tune Benny Hill used to cavort to with barely dressed busty beauties.

1974: Miami 24, Minnesota 7

Story: Csonka has another huge day as the Dolphins win the big game in a foggy Rice Stadium.

Song: "Hat's Off to Larry," by Del Shannon

1975: Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6

Story: The Steel Curtain defense completely smothers Minnesota, sending the Vikings to a third ignominious defeat.

Song: "Three Time Loser," by Dan Seals. Vikes coach Bud Grant didn't quote the song lyrics at the postgame press conference, but he could have: "I grew up and thought that things would change / Got more mature, but I guess we stay the same / But I still believe in a starry night / And I keep on waitin' for the one that will turn out right."

1976: Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17

Story: Lynn Swann hauls in four passes for 164 yards, one of which was that diving, juggling beauty widely regarded as the greatest catch in Super Bowl history.

Song: The graceful Swann cries out for ballet, so we'll go with "Swan Lake."

1977: Oakland 32, Minnesota 14

Story: Shaggy-haired receiver Fred Biletnikoff leads the bikerlike Raiders to their first win and the Vikings' last defeat.

Song: "Born to Be Wild," by Steppenwolf. What else for a team that came closer to the Hell's Angels than any other?

1978: Dallas 27, Denver 10

Story: Dallas defensive linemen Harvey Martin and Randy White share MVP honors in the Cowboys' triumph over the Broncos' vaunted "Orange Crush" defense.

Song: Had Denver won, it would have been REM's "Orange Crush," but since they lost, we'll go with the theme from Dallas.

1979: Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31

Story: Terry Bradshaw throws for over 300 yards and four TDs. Cowboy Jackie Smith drops a crucial, would-be TD pass.

Song: "Back in Black," by AC/DC. 'Cause the Steelers were back and they wear black. Or the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' "Jackie Blue."

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