If you have read this column at all, you have probably figured out that I am a very nostalgic person, especially when it comes to sporting events that if only for a moment, take me back to my much younger days. I have memorabilia collections that always make me think fondly of a simpler time and this weekend brings us a football event that I am sure conjures up many memories for all of you.
When I was a young tyke, the Super Bowl was not the extravaganza that it is today. First of all, we didn't have to wait two weeks and deal with two weeks of ridiculous media hype before we could play a football game. Sometimes it feels like the game itself is just an anti-climax to all the other events surrounding the sport. Of course, we now have the wonderfully competitive Pro Bowl to fill the gap in between.
Probably the first Super Bowl that I can remember any of involved the always flamboyant "Joe Willie" Namath. I always loved watching Namath play quarterback and at the time, his victory guarantee was not played up like it would be today. If one of this year's Super Bowl quarterbacks was lounging beside a pool guaranteeing that his team would win, the news would hit the airwaves in seconds.
It is funny how as you grow older, you can remember certain plays from certain games, but not much about the game itself. That is the case with Super Bowl IV, where I can distinctly recall Chiefs' wide receiver Otis Taylor making that sideline catch and taking it all the way, much as I can also recall UC product Jim O'Brien's game-winning field goal the next season. How many of you can close your eyes and picture O'Brien jumping for joy after his kick?
I really started getting serious about Super Bowls in 1972, because that is when Roger and the Boys were champions, manhandling the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. It would be four more years before the Cowboys returned to the big stage and then the real heartbreak began as they lost the first of two Super Bowls to those dastardly Pittsburgh Steelers. In between, though, the Boys and their Doomsday Defense got another ring with a throttling of Denver's Orange Crush.
Of course, I have not so fond memories of Super Bowls XVI and XXIII, where our beloved Bengals made it to the big game. I was a college student in 1982, where I attended the Freezer Bowl on the day when the Bengals captured their first AFC title. I had serious Super Bowl fever, fueled by the fact that I lived around a hopeless group of Cleveland Browns fans. I had a buddy make me a #80 Cris Collinsworth jersey just for the game and a bunch of us gathered around the TV in the dorm lobby to watch the Cincinnati coronation. Well, a few misplayed kickoffs later, the Bengals were in a 20-0 halftime hole and though they outplayed the Niners in the second half, it wasn't to be.
Then of course came the heartbreak of Super Bowl XXIII. I watched this one on the big screen TV at my parents home along with an old gentleman from our church, who was even more of nervous wreck during the game than I was. The Stanford Jennings kickoff return plus the Jim Breech field goals made it look like we had this one in the bag. Not so fast, some dude named Montana had something to say about that. To quote Bengals' coach Sam Wyche, "Just 34 seconds, 34 seconds" and you know the result.
After that point, I lost interest in the Super Bowl from a rooting standpoint because as they say "I never had a dog in the fight." I watched all the games because that is what a sports fan such as myself is required to do, but I never really cared who won. I just wanted an entertaining game and as I said earlier, it seems to have become more of an entertainment event than a sporting event. If you don't believe me, watch for all the hype that Super Bowl commercials get.
When this Sunday evening rolls around and I should be in church, I will be fixed in my recliner, most likely with a dog in my lap and an iPad in hand. I may have to change my theory, though, and root for the 49ers. Like many of you , I am sick of the Ray Lewis drama and it wouldn't even surprise me if he came back next season. Trust me, you will get more camera shots of Lewis than you did of A.J. McCarron's girlfriend.
Those of you who really have no interest in the "big" game,take heed. The Reds play the Indians in the first spring training game on Feb. 22. Spring time beckons!