Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII will cause an eruption of parties around the world to watch the league’s Bionic Man—Tom Brady of the New England Patriots—square off against the young upstart quarterback, Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams. Keep your party banter in MVP form by brushing up on these conversation starters.
When kickoff comes at Atlanta, Georgia’s Mercedes-Benz stadium, at 24 Goff is almost half Brady’s age. Goff joined the league in 2016. Brady, on the other hand, will be appearing in the Super Bowl for the ninth time and vying a record-setting sixth win. He would also go down in history as the oldest quarterback—41 years old—to claim a Super Bowl ring.
For those less interested in the plays on the field, the game will serve up hearty entertainment: Atlanta native Gladys Knight will sing the national anthem, certain to be a don’t-miss rendition, and Maroon 5 will headline the halftime show with guest performances by Travis Scott and Big Boi.
Here are our other favorite did you know moments from the past 53 years.
Super Bowl I: First Touchdown—New Meaning to “Playing Hurt”
Retirement was staring down Max McGee, of the Green Bay Packers, like an oncoming train. The 11-year veteran, 34 years old, came to the first ever Super Bowl in 1967 fully expecting to ride the pine, as he had done most of the regular season, and not see a nanosecond of playing time.
McGee, renowned for his joie de vivre, did what any self-respecting bon vivant would do: break team curfew and go out on the tiles. Feeling a little worse for wear after his night on the town, McGee arrived at the stadium and joked with starter Boyd Dowler to not get hurt. Precisely three plays into the game, Dowler injured his shoulder and McGee rallied to take the field and claim his spot in sports history.
McGee once said: “When it’s third-and-10, you can take the milk-drinkers and I’ll take the whiskey-drinkers every time.” The journeyman benchwarmer’s historic first TD was a jaw-dropping one-hander for 37 yards. McGee caught six more passes that game for a total of 138 yards and a second touchdown to secure the Packer’s 35-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Super Bowl X: First Wide Receiver MVP—“Baryshnikov in Cleats”
These days, even Sir Mick Jagger does ballet at age 73 to keep in shape for his grueling concert tours. Back in the ’70s, however, ballet had yet to go mainstream . . . until Pittsburgh wide receiver Lynn Swann snagged the Super Bowl MVP trophy and the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Swann’s graceful leaps and impossible catches defined the Steeler’s 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys in 1976, earning him the title “Baryshnikov in Cleats.” Through grade school to high school, Swann studied dance—ballet, tap, and jazz—instilling in him body control, explosiveness, speed, grace, and vertical leap. As a football player at USC, he also worked out with the gymnastics team, focusing on the trampoline.
Levitating over his opponents, seemingly unfettered by gravity, Swann’s perfect catches accounted for a record 161 yards, including an impossible pirouette for a 53-yard catch. A New York reporter wrote of Swann: “Put in classical music, watch (Swann) in slow motion, and you’ve got football as art.” Bravo.
Super Bowl XX: “Super Bowl Shuffle”—First Sports Music Video
The Super Bowl Shuffle, a kitschy foray into 1980s sports rap starring the Chicago Bears, made it to No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and was even nominated for a Grammy Award. The song didn’t win, but what the video lacked in artistry, it more than compensated with audacity.
Players in uniform performed in the video released a month before the playoffs and before the Bears could possibly know they would even play in the Big Game. Now that’s confidence. In fairness, the Bears bulldozed through the 1985 regular season with an astounding record of 15-1 and ultimately did make it to the Big Game. They staged a blowout of historic proportions, beating the New England Patriots 46-10, the largest margin of victory at the time. The Bears defense held New England to a total of seven yards rushing for the entire game.
The Bears were led by their legendary QB, Jim McMahon, famous for the black sunglasses seemingly grafted to his face; “Sweetness,” aka Walter Payton, soft-voiced off the field but a battering ram on and still the NFL’s second leading rusher of all time, and William “the Refrigerator” Perry, who at 350-plus pounds became the heaviest player to ever score a Super Bowl touchdown.
Super Bowl XXII: Breaking the QB Race Barrier—Doug Williams
Doug Williams didn’t even start at quarterback for the Washington Redskins until midway through the regular season when the team’s young hotshot, Jay Schroeder, was injured. Williams was given no chance to defeat MVP heir apparent John Elway, of the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl XXII match up.
It gets worse. The day before the game, Williams woke with a throbbing toothache and endured three hours in a dentist’s chair for a root canal procedure. Next, the heavily favored Broncos blew out of the gate to claim a 10-0 lead. And then Williams slipped and hyperextended his knee. Writhing in pain, he was carried off the field.
Two plays later, he limped back onto the field to start the second quarter and launched an 80-yard heat-seeking missile to make the score 10-7. The Denver thrashing continued that quarter with three more Washington TDs—two passes and one rushing—to put Washington ahead 35-10 at half time. The offensive line—determined to see their friend and colleague prevail—didn’t let a single Bronco player get anywhere near their injured leader. The game would end in a score of 42-10. Williams set four Super Bowl records that magical night: passing yards in a game (340), passing yards in a quarter (228), touchdown passes (four), and longest completion (80 yards).
It has been called the greatest Super Bowl performance by any quarterback!
Super Bowl LIII: Give Back—Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
Super Bowl chatter typically spotlights heroics on the field but the real heroism occurs off the field. The NFL Man of the Year, awarded since 1970, was renamed in 1999 to honor the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, a pioneering advocate of organ donation.
Each of the league’s 32 team nominated their candidate for the honor, with the winner announced on February 2, in a ceremony the day before the Super Bowl. A $500,000 donation will be given in the name of the 2018 winner, with $250,000 the NFL and United Way’s digital education program, Character Playbook. An additional donation of $250,000 will be donated to the charity of the winner’s choice. All other 31 nominees will receive a donation of $50,000 in their name to expand Character Playbook, and an additional donation of up to $50,000 to their charity of choice.
Initiatives supported by the players range from hurricane relief in the Carolinas, higher education programs to support students who would otherwise be denied the opportunity, food banks, and wellness and nutrition fundamentals at elementary schools.
These are football’s true MVPs.Eight Homes Fit for a Superbowl Party Lisa Bessone
Christie's International Real Estate