Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On The One Super Bowl Week That Wasn't a Bore

I wrote this piece for

In commemoration of the most ostentatious and overhyped seven days in American sports, let us hearken back precisely twenty-five years, to a time that was both more and less innocent, to a moment when, thanks to one man, Super Bowl week overcame its stultifying reputation and became, ever so briefly, a tabloid bonanza. Let us recall the apostate known as the Punky QB, who strode into the holy land of New Orleans and, over the course of a few short days, rendered the Super Bowl his own personal bacchanal, a montage of drinking and fighting and mooning replete with plot twists involving a rogue acupuncturist, Bob Hope, public urination, and a controversial radio interview that never actually took place. It was so tacky and improbable that even the producers of Entourage would question the plausibility of it all.

Of course, the Super Bowl, at least since Joe Willie Namath's overhyped guarantee of victory, has always been more "event" than event. Few men could rise above it. For years—with the exception of a cocaine-addled Dallas Cowboys linebacker named Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson questioning the intelligence of the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw*—the week leading up the Super Bowl, post Namath, had been positively boring. And then came the Bears, who were already national icons, who had already recorded a pulsating rap song proclaiming their intention to win the Super Bowl, whose gap-toothed defensive lineman was guzzling Big Macs and scoring touchdowns and reveling in his girth, whose blustery coach had been arrested for drunk driving after getting toasted on the team plane, and whose quarterback had gone on Letterman and declared he had no intention to pay a fine levied by the commissioner for wearing a headband bearing the logo of a German shoe company.
James Robert McMahon Jr. was the quarterback's name, and despite the significant contributions of sidemen like Ditka and William "Refrigerator" Perry, Jim McMahon was the frontman for the Bears' short-lived pop-cultural explosion.

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1 comment:

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