If Sunday's Super Bowl is like most of the previous 42, it will be forgettable unless you consider the Terrible Towel a fashion accessory or are one of the few and, at long last, proud Cardinals fans. While there was a dude who walked around in a dress, even yesterday's Media Day was rather tame. At least there's still hope that the commercials will be good. Here's a look back at some of the colorful characters and memorable ads from the previous three Super Bowls held in Tampa Bay. Perhaps they'll jog your memory of the actual games.
2001: Super Bowl XXXV
The game was a dud. The Baltimore Ravens routed the New York Giants 34-7 to win their first Super Bowl, but the week leading up to the game was rife with uncharacteristically serious storylines. Ray Lewis, the leader of the Ravens' dominating defense, was grilled by reporters about his alleged involvement in a murder the previous year, while Giants quarterback Kerry Collins opened up about his battle with alcoholism. Tony Siragusa, who was a bazillion times funnier as a player than he is as a sideline reporter, ensured the week wasn't completely devoid of comic relief.
Media Day Notes: Siragusa, who misses a beat in answering questions about as often as he misses a meal, was asked what he'd be doing if he weren't a football player. "A stripper," replied the 340-pound defensive tackle, who was also asked if he needed a shoehorn to put on his helmet. (No, just a little grease.) The Giants' Michael Strahan wasn't spared the inanity. A reporter asked him if he had ever met actress and fellow gap-toothed icon Lauren Hutton. Strahan said he met her once and thanked her for making the gap in vogue.
The Ads: Cedric the Entertainer made his debut as a Bud Light pitchman in this memorable spot, which begins with the comedian romancing a woman on a couch and ends with beer spraying all over her face. In a parody of its popular "Whasssssup?" series of ads, Budweiser's "What are you doing?" was one of the most quotable ads of the year.
1991: Super Bowl XXV
The launch of Operation Desert Storm less than two weeks before the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills met in Super Bowl XXV cast a cloud of nervousness over the event. For a change, the game lived up to its billing, even if the excitement it generated was tempered by the war in Iraq. Whitney Houston sang a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Peter Jennings provided a news update before the halftime show. With the Giants leading 20-19, Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood lined up for a 47-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, but pushed it wide right. Giants coach Bill Parcells received a Gatorade shower, while the Bills and their fans endured the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses.
Media Day Notes: Unprecedented security measures that are considered the norm today greeted reporters at Media Day. Among the 2200 accredited media members was MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown, who asked the Giants, "How's the morales of the team?" When someone asked Brown to predict the winner of the game, she responded, "The team with the best bums." There were serious questions, too. When asked whether he thought the Super Bowl should be played, New York's Leonard Marshall said it should be, and then inappropriately suggested that the game was like war. "It's a struggle for land," Marshall said.
The Ads: Pepsi's "You've Got the Right One Baby" spot featuring Ray Charles and various backup singers earned top billing from USA Today's Ad Meter. While the Bud Bowl sneak-preview media reception was canceled "out of respect for the mood of journalists who have been assigned to cover Super Bowl week," the third year of the Bud Bowl series was aired as planned. The same couldn't be said for a Pepsi promotion that would've prompted viewers to call a toll-free number for a chance to win $1 million. The Federal Communications Commission forced Pepsi to drop the number from the ad out of fear that it would jam the country's telephone switchboards.
1984: Super Bowl XVIII
As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Washington Redskins strolled into Tampa Bay with a swagger. They left humbled after the Los Angeles Raiders crushed them 38-9 in what was at the time the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. This game is the perfect example of a Super Bowl that is remembered more for what happened before the game and during commercial breaks than for what transpired on the field.
Media Day Notes: Each team had its own walking sound byte: John Riggins for Washington and Lester Hayes for Los Angeles. Riggins was asked what he thought of Lyle Alzado's comments that the Raiders defensive end was going to knock his head off. "I'm going to wear a parachute, so when he knocks my block off, it'll fall onto a nice soft spot, and I hope he's gentleman enough to hand it back to me," Riggins said. Hayes stole the Media Day show, however, channeling the Star Wars trilogy in most of his responses. Witness: "A tremor in "˜The Force' tells me that the score shall be in the high 40s, and the Silver and Black shall be victorious. We are a benevolent Darth Vader. We shall zap them. So be it."
The Ad: Arguably the most influential ad in the history of the Super Bowl, Apple Macintosh's minute-long "1984" spot introduced the world to its personal computer in dramatic fashion. Directed by Ridley Scott, Advertising Age named it the Commercial of the Decade. An interesting read on the ad, which turned 25 this month, can be found here.