I’m nursing a serious case of Super Bowl Fever (just after getting over my bouts of Conference Championship Croup, and that Divisional Playoff Diphtheria), so I thought I’d share some trivia. As a warning, I’m quite the NFL geek, so many of the things discussed in this article may be more detailed and obscure than most fans may be interested in. I tried to include some atypical bits of Super Bowl trivia as well. Also, to save time, I’m going to refer to individual games using regular numbers, and not Roman Numerals. (And as an aside, as they referenced in a “Simpsons” episode once, isn’t it weird that the only modern things that use Roman Numerals are Super Bowls and movie copyright notations?) Finally, I got sick of writing “Super Bowl,” so it’s often abbreviated as “SB.” With that in mind, let’s get started.
1) In these times of ridiculous Super Bowl hype, with 6 hour pregame shows, tickets costing in the thousands of dollars, thirty second television commercials costing over a million dollars, etc., it’s amazing to note that the first ever Super Bowl, in 1967, wasn’t even a sell out. Not even close, by the way, only 61,946 out of 94,000 seats were sold.
2) The first tackle in a Super Bowl was made by the immortal Jim Weatherwax, a backup defensive tackle on the Green Bay Packers.
3) The Super Bowl’s name was supposedly inspired by the Super Ball toy, which was owned by Kansas City Chief owner Lamar Hunt’s daughter. It took several years for this moniker to become official. Before that it was known as the long, dull “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”
4) End Max McGee was winding down his successful NFL career, and was a reserve on the 1966 Green Bay Packers. He only caught 4 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown during the regular season. Therefore, he felt safe in carousing heavily the night before the game. Alas, starter Boyd Dowler got injured early in Super Bowl 1, meaning McGee was pressed into service. He responded brilliantly, catching 7 passes for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns, despite dealing with a bad hangover.
5) Quarterback Joe Namath of the New York Jets was the only Super Bowl MVP at quarterback to not throw a touchdown pass in the game. (And personally, while Namath played well in his famous “guarantee” game, I would have probably gone with running back Matt Snell for MVP, since he rushed 30 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, and also caught 4 passes for 40 yards. Cornerback Randy Beverly also had a great game, with two interceptions.)
6) Super Bowl 6 (after the 1971 season), has the distinction of being the only one where a team didn’t score at least one touchdown. The Miami Dolphins only managed a field goal in their 24-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. That’s the closest a Super Bowl has come to a shutout.
7) Only one player has ever been MVP of a Super Bowl when he was on the losing team. It was linebacker Chuck Howley of the Dallas Cowboys, who intercepted two passes in the turnover-plagued, highly penalized slopfest that was Super Bowl 5.
8) Only three guys have won Super Bowls as both a player and a head coach. Mike Ditka was the starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 6, and coached the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl 20. Tony Dungy was a reserve defensive back in Super Bowl 13 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and coached the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 41. Tom Flores was a reserve quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 4 (although he didn’t actually play in it), and coached the Oakland/L.A. Raiders in Super Bowls 15 and 18.
9) Five teams have failed to score an offensive touchdown in a Super Bowl. There’s the Miami Dolphins (who as mentioned earlier, didn’t score one at all) in Super Bowl 6, the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl 7 (only touchdown scored on fumble return), the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl 9 (only touchdown scored on a blocked punt recovery in the end zone), the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 23 (only touchdown scored on kickoff return), and the New York Giants in Super Bowl 35 (only touchdown scored on kickoff return).
10) There have been five fumbles recovered for a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Oddly, four were by Dallas Cowboys. They were Cowboys Mike Hegman in Super Bowl 13, James Jones and Ken Norton in Super Bowl 27, and James Washington in Super Bowl 28. Mike Bass was the only non
player, returning a fumble in Super Bowl 7, as referred to above. Also, if Leon Lett hadn’t hot-dogged it and held the ball out for Bill’s wide receiver Don Beebe to knock out of his hand at the last minute, he would have easily scored a third fumble recovery touchdown in Super Bowl 27. Dallas
11) Linebacker/Defensive End Charles Haley has the distinction of being on the most Super Bowl winners, with five (out of five appearances). He was on the
49ers in Super Bowls 23 and 24, and on the Dallas Cowboys of Super Bowls 27, 28 and 30. San Francisco
12) For the flip side of the coin, linebacker Cornelius Bennett was the unluckiest, losing all five of the Super Bowls he played in. He was with the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowls 25-28, and with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 33.
13) Pittsburgh Steeler head coach Chuck Noll is still the only man to coach 4 Super Bowl winners, in Super Bowls 9, 10, 13 and 14.
14) Super Bowl 9 also saw the most pathetic offensive performance by a team. The Minnesota Vikings only managed 119 total yards, 17 rushing and 102 receiving, against the Steelers.
15) Only three backup quarterbacks have ever thrown a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl. They were Minnesota Viking Bob Lee in Super Bowl 11 (versus the Oakland Raiders), the New England Patriot Steve Grogan in Super Bowl 20 (versus the Chicago Bears), and Buffalo Bill Frank Reich in Super Bowl 27 (versus the Dallas Cowboys).
16) Running back Preston Pearson and linebacker Bill Romanowski played on three different Super Bowl teams. Pearson was on the Baltimore Colts in SB 3, the Pittsburgh Steelers in SB 9, and the Dallas Cowboys in SB’s 10, 12, and 13. Romanowski was on the
49ers in SB’s 23 and 24, the Denver Broncos in SB’s 32 and 33, and the Oakland Raiders in SB 37. San Francisco
17) Officially, the record for sacks in a Super Bowl is 3, by Green Bay Packer Reggie White in SB 31 and Arizona Cardinal Darnell Dockett in SB 43. However, sacks have only been recognized since 1982 (SB 17). From my research it appears that Pittsburgh Steeler L.C. Greenwood had 4 in SB 10.
18) The record for most turnovers committed is held by the Buffalo Bills in SB 27. They threw 4 interceptions and lost 5 fumbles.
19) Only three non quarterbacks have thrown touchdown passes in a SB. Running back Robert Newhouse threw one for the Dallas Cowboys in SB 12 (to Golden Richards), running back Los Angeles Ram Lawrence McCutcheon threw one to Ron Smith in SB 14, and Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Antwaan Randle El tossed one to Hines Ward in SB 40.
20) The record for most interceptions in a single Super Bowl is 3, by linebacker Rod Martin of the Oakland Raiders, against the Philadelphia Eagles in SB 15.
21) *Baltimore Colt Norm Bulaich compiled the lowest regular season team leading rushing total for a Super Bowl winning team, with his 426 yards for the SB 5 roster.
22) Only four guys have scored 3 touchdowns in a single SB game. They were
49er Roger Craig in SB 19 (1 rushing, 2 receiving), 49er Jerry Rice, twice, in SB 24 and 29 (all receiving), 49er Ricky Watters in SB 29 (1 rushing, 2 receiving), and Denver Bronco Terrell Davis in SB 32 (all rushing). San Francisco
23) Bronco Terrell Davis in SB 32 and New York Giant Ahmad Bradshaw in SB 46 both had the unusual experience of rushing for touchdowns against teams that were letting them score. In both cases (the Green Bay Packers in SB 32, the New England Patriots in SB 46) it was very late in the fourth quarter, and the teams let them score because their opponents were inside the ten yard line, with presumptive easy field goals at least which would give them the lead, and the Packers and Patriots wanted to have enough time to launch subsequent drives of their own (both failed). It makes sense, but boy, did it look strange.
24) Two men who were defensive players scored touchdowns on set offensive plays. Defensive lineman William “The Refridgerator” Perry rushed for a touchdown for the Chicago Bears in SB 20, and New England Patriot linebacker Mike Vrabel caught two touchdowns, in SB’s 38 and 39.
25) Also in SB 20, the New England Patriots set the mark for fewest rushing yards in a game—only 7!
26) Buffalo Bill Thurman Thomas holds the record for most rushing yards in a losing cause, with 135 against the New York Giants in SB 25.
27) Staying with Super Bowl 25, poor Scott Norwood tried (and missed) the only game ending field goal which meant the difference between winning and losing. Jim O’Brien kicked one which won SB 5 for the Baltimore Colts, and New England Patriot Adam Vinatieri kicked field goals to win both SB 36 and 38, but in all three of those examples the score was tied, meaning if they missed they wouldn’t immediately lose. Also, ironically, at the time
was the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history (since passed). On the other hand, “ Norwood ‘66” was an entertaining movie, at least. Buffalo
28) One more for a Buffalo Bill, Andre Reed hold the record for most receiving yards in a losing cause, with 152 in SB 27 against the Dallas Cowboys.
29) Only one special teams player has been SB MVP—Green Bay Packer Desmond Howard in SB 31, who returned both punts and kickoffs (one for a key touchdown) in the game against the New England Patriots.
30) Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dwight Smith is the only player to return two interceptions for a touchdown in the same game (or ever). He victimized Rich Gannon and the Oakland Raiders in SB 37.
31) Carolina Panther Muhsin Muhammad holds the record for longest receiving touchdown (from Jake Delhomme) in SB 38—85 yards.
32) There’s only one type of situation when a penalty directly results in points in the NFL (pass interference committed by a defensive player in their own end zone, for example, obviously results in the offensive team getting possession on the one-yard line, but no direct points). This occurred in last year’s SB, 46, when New England Patriot Tom Brady committed intentional grounding in his own end zone, resulting in a safety for the New York Giants. Other penalties, such as an offensive player holding in his own end zone, also result in a safety.
33) Jerry Rice holds the record for most touchdowns (and total points) scored in SB’s, with 8 (all receiving). He scored these for the
49ers in SB’s 23,24, and 29, and for the Oakland Raiders in SB 37. Next highest total is 5, (all rushing) by Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith. San Francisco
34) The first player to score a 2 point conversion in a SB was delightfully obscure—San Diego Charger wide receiver Mark Seay, against the
49ers in SB 29. San Francisco
35) There has never been a punt returned for a touchdown in SB competition. A total of 8 kickoffs have been, though.
36) Speaking of that, the only opening kickoff to be returned for a touchdown was by Chicago Bear Devin Hester, in SB 41.
37) Denver Bronco John Elway is the only quarterback to catch a pass in a SB, for 23 yards, from Steve Sewell, in SB 22.
38) Cincinnati Bengal Dan Ross had the most productive game for a tight end in SB play, in SB 16 versus the
49ers. He’s the only tight end to surpass 100 yards receiving (104, on 11 catches), and score 2 touchdowns in one game. (Author's note: 49er tight end Vernon Davis tied Ross's yardage record, with 104 receiving yards in SB 47.) San Francisco
39) The record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a SB game is 64, by Tennessee Titan Steve McNair in SB 34. Although if 49er Colin Kaepernick has even a semi-decent rushing game this could be shattered, I guess. (Author's note: He didn't break the record, but he came awfully close in SB 47, with 62 yards.)
40) Many quarterbacks have tossed 4 interceptions in one SB game, but only one has thrown 5—Rich Gannon of the Oakland Raiders in SB 37.
41) The three highest passing yard totals in a single SB are all owned by one guy—Kurt Warner. He threw for 365 for the St. Louis Rams in SB 36 (vs. New England), 377 as an Arizona Cardinal in SB 43 (vs.
) and 414 as a Ram against the Tennessee Titans in SB 34. Pittsburgh
49er quarterback Joe Montana is the only man to be SB MVP 3 times—in SB’s 16, 19, and 24. San Francisco
43) The only time a Super Bowl MVP award has been shared was in SB 12, when defensive lineman Harvey Martin and Randy White were co-MVP’s for the Dallas Cowboys (vs. Denver Broncos).
44) On a negative, scandalous note, at least 3 player have been kicked off the team, or arrested the night before a SB. Cincinnati Bengal running back Stanley Wilson missed SB 23 due to his being high on cocaine . Since this was his third offense he was banned from the NFL for life. Sadly, his addiction continued after that, and he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for a 1999 burglary. Oakland Raider center Barret Robbins missed SB 37 when he was found drunkenly incoherent the night before. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and continued to have legal issues after his playing career, including pleading guilty to attempted murder. Finally, Atanta Falcon safety Eugene Robinson was a highly respected player on and off the field. The day before SB 33, a Christian group gave him the Bart Starr Award, presented to NFL players who exhibit "high moral character." Only hours later, though, he was arrested for soliciting an undercover policewoman. He played the next day against the Broncos, but badly, perhaps stemming from the stress and lack of sleep from his arrest. Hopefully the 49ers and Ravens will be better behaved. (Especially Ray Lewis!)
45) The record for most Hall of Famers on a SB winning team is, not surprisingly, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their SB 9, 10, 13, and 14 winning squads had HOF’s quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running back Franco Harris, wide receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, center Mike Webster, defensive lineman Mean Joe Greene, linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert, and cornerback Mel Blount. Also named to the Hall was head coach Chuck Noll, and owners/administrators Art and Dan Rooney for a total of 9 players, and 3 nonplayers. Just behind them was the SB 6 Dallas Cowboys, with 9 players and 2 non players. Namely, quarterback Roger Staubach, offensive linemen Forrest Gregg and Rayfield Wright, wide receivers Bob Hayes and Lance Alworth, tight end Mike Ditka, defensive lineman Bob Lilly, cornerbacks Herb Adderley and Mel Renfro, head coach Tom Landry, and team president/general manager Tex Schramm. And finally, the SB 1 Green Bay Packers had 9 players and 1 non player. They had quarterback Bart Starr, running backs Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, offensive lineman Forrest Gregg, defensive linemen Willie Davis and Henry Jordan, linebacker Ray Nitschke, defensive backs Herb Adderley and Willie Wood and head coach Vince Lombardi. (To be technical, Paul Hornung didn’t play in SB 1, Forrest Gregg didn’t play in SB 6, and Jack Ham missed SB 14.)
46) There have been at least 18 sets of brothers of play in the Super Bowl. One of them, Glen and Lyle Blackwood, played together on the Miami Dolphins, as they were both starters at safety for SB’s 17 and 19. The
family produced three SB players. Archie and Ray were both reserves on the Cincinnati Bengals (Archie at running back, Ray as a defensive back) in SB 16, and Keith was a reserve running back on the Washington Redskins in SB 22. Griffin
47) Finally, and this is my favorite bit of Super Bowl trivia ever, wide receiver Percy Howard’s only catch in the NFL was for a touchdown in a Super Bowl—SB 10 as a Dallas Cowboy. Howard didn’t even play football in college—he was a basketball player at tiny Austin Peay. He was a reserve in his only season in the NFL, and only played in the SB due to starter Golden Richard’s late game injury. The following preseason he injured his knee and never played in a game again. Also, he almost had a second, game winning touchdown reception on a “Hail Mary” attempt to end the game.
That’s it. Enjoy the game! Or enjoy the commercials, and the halftime show, if you’re not much of a football fan.
* Correction of a mistake I made initially, for #21. It wasn't Ricky Patton of the 49ers.
* Correction of a mistake I made initially, for #21. It wasn't Ricky Patton of the 49ers.