Scoring the Super Bowl
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."
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."
1980: Pittsburgh 31, L.A. Rams 19
Story: Louisiana-bred Bradshaw has another big game as the Steelers punk the Rams.
Song: "Louisiana Man," by Doug Kershaw
1981: Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10
Story: Raider QB Jim Plunkett shreds the Eagles' defense for three TDs.
Song: "Jim Dandy," by Black Oak Arkansas. Or LaVern Baker, depending on your taste.
1982: San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21
Story: Kicker Ray Wersching ties the Bowl record for field goals in this unmemorable game.
Song: Ummmm, we'll go with, ahem, "Wersching Well," by Terence Trent D'Arby.
1983: Washington 27, Miami 17
Story: Diesel-powered Redskin fullback John Riggins breaks the Bowl rushing record with 166 yards.
Song: "Big Bad John," by Jimmy Dean
1984: L.A. Raiders 38, Washington 9
Story: Marcus Allen runs hog-wild, shattering Riggins's record with 191 rushing yards and two TDs.
Song: It's a bit of an anachronism, but we're going with "Straight Outta Compton," since Allen went to school near there and Raiders gear was de rigueur for a generation of L.A. gangstas.
1985: San Francisco 38, Miami 16
Story: Joe Montana slings for 331 yards and three TDs, besting Dan Marino in his only Super Bowl appearance.
Song: This battle of two immortal QBs is neatly summed up by Tom Petty's "Two Gunslingers."
1986: Chicago 46, New England 10
Story: Buddy Ryan's revolutionary 46 defense absolutely waxes the Patriots in one of the least competitive Super Bowls of all time.
Song: What else but "Super Bowl Shuffle"? Who could forget these lines? "You're lookin' at the Fridge / I'm the rookie / I may be large, but I'm no dumb cookie." Or how about these? "I'm the punky QB, known as McMahon / When I hit the turf, I've got no plan." (Evidently, the same could be said for when he hit the studio.) And of course, "I didn't come here lookin' for trouble / I just came to do the Super Bowl shuffle."
1987: New York Giants 39, Denver 20
Story: Phil Simms throws three TDs, one to Zeke Mowatt, who later became infamous as a member of the New England Patriots. Mowatt was accused by reporter Lisa Olson of wagging his penis at her and asking if she wanted his patriot missile. Dennis Miller later made a crack about Patriots owner/Remington razor honcho Victor Kiam -- whose response to the Olson affair was to brand her "a classic bitch" -- by saying, "I've seen Zeke Mowatt's penis, and I liked it so much I bought the company."
Song: "Rocket Man," by Elton John
1988: Washington 42, Denver 10
Story: Doug Williams becomes the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
Song: "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)," by James Brown
1989: San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16
Story: Jerry Rice goes wild -- 11 catches for 204 yards and a TD -- as the Niners triumph.
Song: "Simply the Best," by Tina Turner. Rice might be the greatest football player of all time.
1990: San Francisco 55, Denver 10
Story: Joe Montana throws five TDs in this ass-whuppin'.
Song: "Killer Joe," by Quincy Jones
1991: New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19
Story: The Bills' best shot for a ring ends when Scott Norwood's last-second field goal sails wide right.
Song: "Ain't That a Kick in the Head," by Dean Martin. Or maybe Bobby Bare's "Drop Kick Me Jesus (Through the Goal Posts of Life)."
1992: Washington 37, Buffalo 24
Story: Jim Kelly throws four picks in Buffalo's second superflop.
Song: "Right Place, Wrong Time," by Dr. John. It's easy to imagine Kelly singing, "I threw a good pass / but it was to the wrong guy."
1993: Dallas 52, Buffalo 17
Story: Nine Buffalo turnovers result in 35 Cowboy points as the Bills get hammered again. Should have been 42 points off turnovers, but lunkheaded Cowboy defender Leon Lett started celebrating his touchdown before he made it to the end zone.
Song: "Lonesome Loser," by the Little River Band
1994: Dallas 30, Buffalo 13
Story: Another year, another ritual Buffalo slaughter.
Song: "Just Once," by James Ingram. That's the ballad with lines like "I gave my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough," and these, which seem as though they were written by Buffalo coach Marv Levy: "I gave my all / But I think my all may have been too much/ 'Cause Lord knows we're not getting anywhere / It seems we're always blowin' / Whatever we've got goin' / And it seems at times with all we've got / We haven't got a prayer."
1995: San Francisco 49, San Diego 26
Story: Steve Young throws a record six TDs as the Niners continue the string of NFC romps.
Song: "Forever Young," by Alphaville
1996: Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17
Story: Dallas's only post-Jimmy Johnson Super Bowl appearance.
Song: "Dallas," by Jimmie Dale Gilmore. If there was ever a rich man who believed his own lies, it was Jerry Jones. After firing Jimmy Johnson, Jones won this one with Barry Switzer, thus leading him to think he could win with a bunch of yes-men coaches. Subsequent events proved him wrong.
1997: Green Bay 35, New England 21
Story: The Packers' Desmond Howard breaks open a close game with his 99-yard kickoff-return TD.
Song: "Return of the Mack," by Mark Morrison
1998: Denver 31, Green Bay 24
Story: Terrell Davis runs roughshod over the Packers. The AFC wins for the first time since 1984.
Song: "At Last," by Etta James
1999: Denver 34, Atlanta 19
Story: Golden boy John Elway shines in his last game. Falcon safety Eugene Robinson is busted the night before the game soliciting a blow job from an undercover cop.
Song: For Elway, "Smooth Operator," by Sade. Elway retired with a grace seldom matched. For Robinson, "Take a Walk on the Wild Side," by Lou Reed.
2000: St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16
Story: Kevin Dyson's reach for the goal line comes up a foot or two short, denying Bud Adams the championship title he so richly does not deserve.
Song: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," by U2
2001: Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7
Story: Ray Lewis, fresh from his trial on charges of murdering two men after the previous Super Bowl, leads a withering Ravens defense.
Song: Lewis is the scariest dude in the NFL, so we'll go with the Geto Boys' "Mind of a Lunatic," perhaps still the scariest rap tune ever.
2002: New England 20, St. Louis 17
Story: Tom Brady coolly leads the Pats on a late drive that results in a game-winning field goal.
Song: The Brady Bunch theme
2003: Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21
Story: Oakland's Rich Gannon throws a record five interceptions as the Tampa defense carries the day. Admitted alcoholic Oakland center Barret Robbins misses the game after vanishing on a Tijuana bender.
Song: "Oops, I Did It Again," by Britney Spears. Actually, that works both for Gannon and Robbins, but then a better song for Robbins would be "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down."
2004: Carolina vs. New England.
Story: Remains to be seen.
Song: We're gonna raid the Geto Boys canon again, because we, like them, truly believe our "City's Under Siege."
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