1 - THE CARD TABLE AND PUBLIX PIZZA - Growing up we had a steadfast rule: you couldn't eat in the TV Room. Well, mainly meals were included in that edict. We would snack or eat ice cream, but my dad was never even too keen on those. Often he would eat his snack at the dining room table. As years went on, this rule eroded. But for my formative childhood years, we never ate dinner in the TV room - except on Super Bowl Sunday. My dad would come up with a bunch of snacks that he made. We were allowed to pick TV dinners at Publix (another no-no at our house) or my mom would buy cold pizzas from the Publix deli case and we wold cook those. We got the card table out and set it up in the TV room and ate dinner in there. To this day, this is my favorite Super Bowl memory - and the first thing that pops in my head when I think of the Big Game.
2 - SUPER BOWL 27 AT THE WILD PIZZA - I had gone away to college at UCF and this was my first Super Bowl away from home. Watching the game was a huge tradition for our family and I was missing the chance to be home. What made it worse was that I was a lifelong Cowboys fan and they were playing in the Big Game against the Buffalo Bills. Over the past few years, my brother's favorite team (Redskins - twice) and my dad's favorite team (Bears) had won the title. But my team had not won since 1978, which I was way too young to remember. [The first Super Bowl I remembered watching was 1981.] Well, UCF was having a Super Bowl viewing party at The Wild Pizza (on campus restaurant). It was free and up on the big movie screen. My roommate Matt and I went and watched the whole thing - basically the last people to leave. Thus began my new stage of SB watching - watching the Game at big Super Bowl Parties.
3 - SUPER BOWL 34 CHILI COOKOFF - This was my last Super Bowl in Tampa. I had helped plan the Super Bowl parties at the BCM at USF for the previous three years. This one, I took the lead on planning one for my church. We had a churchwide chili and hot wing cookoff. Then we subsidized with other snacks and food items. After watching the game with a bunch of college students for the last, um, seven years, it was different to have people of all ages there. It was a raging success. I felt so good about being able to pull off an event like that for all ages. And the game was amazing - with Tennessee coming up about a yard short in their upset bid against the Rams. I felt very grown up. I was about to get engaged (in Feb) and married (in Aug). I had successfully made the transition to integral staff member at the church. And I felt I really knew what I was doing with the college group. Little did I know that by the end of this year, I would no longer be working at this church (or anywhere) and be expecting our first child.
4 - SUPER BOWL 38 AT TONEY'S HOUSE - With the exception of the first half of SB 39, I had now moved back into watching the games at homes. I was tired of trying to watch with 100 people screaming. I love commercials and the entire game - halftime show included. Well, a bunch of the parties would turn non-game time off for giveaways or sermons. So I was back to watching the game. Toney had an awesome food spread, Natalie was just a little baby, and Josiah actually was watching some of the game (not much, but some). It was another great game, too. The Patriots barely pulled it out. But this was the whole "Did you just see that?" Game. I thought the halftime show was actually really good. And then all of the sudden, "DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?" Half of us had caught what happened and half had not. As Lewis Black has brilliantly and hillariously commented in his stand-up on the issue, Janet Jackson for a split second revealed herself. And nothing was ever the same on television. (Wait a minute, that was a favorite memory?)
5 - SUPER BOWL 20 WHEN THE BEARS WON - I have had my favorite team win the Big Game four times in my life (3 for Dallas, 1 for Tampa - after the big switch in my allegiance). My dad was a different story. He was 56 years old and had rooted for the Chicago Bears for as long as he could remember. This storied franchise had never even BEEN TO the Super Bowl. His beloved Celtics had won before, but the Bears had never come close. So in 1985, the Bears were the most dominant team I have ever seen (ever - even to this date - they would have destroyed the Patriots this year). Their only loss came to the Dolphins on a Monday Night game - ironically the first professional game my dad ever went to. So when the game came on, I was rooting for the Bears harder than I had ever rooted for a team in my life. I wanted this for my dad. I had been actively watching Super Bowls for six years, and I knew how much it meant to see your team win. And my dad was so excited. He was not often a happy man. Much of the time he was kind of emotionless - and would mostly break that for burst of anger or unhappiness. But on occasion he would bust into a huge belly laugh that wouldn't stop or actually get excited about something. This game was one of those times. And as we watched the Bears absolutely humiliate the Patriots, he enjoyed every second. All the way until the team lifted both Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan up on their shoulders when the title was won. Honestly, I think I enjoyed that win more than even the four of my team. I was spoiled - I cheered for teams that did well often. I didn't know what it was like to cheer twenty or thirty years for a team that never won. I was just so happy for my dad that he was able to finally see that. Even though I hated the Bears.