Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Panthers' Super Bowl

After watching them this season it seems like 10,000 years ago that the Carolina Panthers were in the Super Bowl. But I went back and checked the calendar and, yep, it was just four years ago that the Panthers lost to the New England Patriots 32-29 in the most exciting Super Bowl ever played.

How good was that game?

-- The two teams combined for five touchdowns and 37 total points in the fourth quarter. (The Panthers scored 19 points in the quarter; this past season they averaged just under 17 points a game.)

-- Jake Delhomme's 85-yard touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad was the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.

-- The Patriots' Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal with 4 seconds left for the win.

-- Oh yeah, and Janet Jackson flashed her breast to the entire civilized world.

That was also the first and only Super Bowl I've been to -- the Observer sent, I'm making a rough guess here, 175 people to Houston to cover the game.

Three quick stories.

Story #1: I think I might have told this one in the paper before... So many media people come to the Super Bowl that there's no way to fit them all in the press box, so they turn a couple sections of stands in the upper level to media overflow. That's where my seat was. So I'm there an hour or so before the game, and another media guy scoots by me on the way to his seat, and a couple of minutes later I look down the row and notice that the guy is standing and gesturing. Apparently somebody is sitting in his seat.

They argue about it for a little while, pulling out their credentials and checking section numbers and so forth, and finally this bent-over old man gets up out of the seat and heads away from me and down the aisle. He totters down the steps -- his seat is God knows where -- and I can't help but feel sorry for the poor guy just trying to find his seat and cover the game. Then he turns his head and I can see his face.

It's Andy Rooney.

Did you ever notice that people don't like it when you sit in their seat at the Super Bowl?

Story #2: The great untold story of the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction is this: Most of us inside the stadium had no clue.

A lot of the fans were at the concession stands. A lot of the media people had their heads in their laptops. And a lot of the people watching the halftime show were looking at the field from hundreds of yards away; from there, Janet J. and Justin Timberlake were about the size of beetles. Nobody in my section had any idea that a live nude breast had appeared right in front of us.

Then, about 10 seconds after it happened, everybody's cell phone started ringing. And you could hear 70,000 people having the same conversation:

"Hello? See what? Her WHAT?"

Story #3: I wrote from Houston that whole week but had one last story that never got published.

You know how, seconds after every big sporting event, people at the scene are walking around with newspapers that say "RED SOX WIN" or something like that? Those pages are made up in advance -- they're not entire newspapers, just a front page -- and the hometown papers of both teams have them ready to go in case their team wins. It's great publicity for the paper and a cool souvenir for the fans.

The Observer had done up a front page that had a giant headline, a big photo and what we call a copy block -- just a few paragraphs under the photo. I had written the copy block -- which had to celebrate the Panthers' win without being able to describe any actual details of the game.

If I remember right, we had 10,000 of those ready to pass around the stadium if the Panthers won. I guess they got mulched. I still have one somewhere -- the front page that never got published. If I can dig it out I'll post it here sometime.

I don't know if this year's Patriots are the best team of all time, but they're going to win the Super Bowl -- they have the best players AND the best coach, and that's a rare combination. I can guarantee only one thing. It won't be as exciting as the Pats-Panthers Super Bowl. Not even if Tom Petty flashes a breast.


Anonymous said...

What I remember most from the week leading up to that SuperBowl was the amazing atmosphere that was just all over Charlotte. I'm greedy, I want that again! It was the closest I've seen Charlotte to being a small town type, everyone is your friend, super electric community!

Anonymous said...

Q: What do you call 53 people sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl?

A: The Carolina Panthers

Anonymous said...

Q: How many Carolina Panthers does it take to win a Super Bowl?

A: Nobody knows and we may never find out.

Martina said...

ahhh... Mammarygate! rarely has the mirror the world holds up to us been so solidly fogged up by old men breathing heavily in mock outrage.

Anonymous said...

LOL you said

It won't be as exciting as the Pats-Panthers Super Bowl. Not even if Tom Petty flashes a breast.

DUDE the GIANTS Win over them Patriots was 100 times better than the Panthers SB Loss...

that game was one of the best in history.... in fact it ewas the #1 watched SB anmd only 2nd to the series finalie of M*A*S*H*

what a difference a week makes... iyou probably took the patriots to win by the 12.5 point spread...

analyze this... which team was better over the last 10 years Giants or Patriots...

Anonymous said...

1997 thru 2007 - regular season only:

Giants 85-80-1
Pats 118-58

Uh...So??? I think it was awesome the Giants won :)