Thursday, January 22, 2004
Super memories of two-way talents
ESPN enjoys an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talented broadcasters who once moonlighted with part-time jobs in the NFL. Here are some of their favorite Super Bowl moments ...
Having grown up in Southern California, I was an Oakland Raiders fan; so the Super Bowl moment that sticks out most is Marcus Allen's 74-yard run against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. I remember he started left and reversed field, came back and had to cut up-field -- amazing. Ironically, the knock on Allen at the time was his lack of speed; but even Darrell Green, who was one of the fastest defensive backs in the league, couldn't catch him.
Marcus Allen spun his way through the Redskins defense in Super Bowl XVIII.
Allen rushed for a Super Bowl-record 191 yards and was named MVP -- pretty impressive for someone who wasn't "fast enough." I was a freshman at USC in 1981, the year Allen won the Heisman; so it was that much sweeter to watch someone I had played with make such a monumental mark in history.
Close seconds: As a kid, Joe Namath was my hero, so watching him lead the Jets past the Colts in Super Bowl III was exciting. And watching John Elway and Brett Favre get their first Super Bowl wins also ranks up there with the best.
My favorite Super Bowl moment was the end of Super Bowl XXVI -- winning the first one. Then, Super Bowl XXXII -- winning the second. And, of course, Super Bowl XXXIII -- winning the third. But, seriously, the one Super Bowl moment that stands out is the John Elway dive during Super Bowl XXXII against the Packers, which resulted in him being air-lifted like a helicopter propeller. On third-and-six, had I not struggled with my blocking assignment -- which, in turn, forced Elway to scramble for the first down -- America would have never seen him be hit by two defenders and go sailing through the air. So, I like to take credit for one of the most memorable shots in Super Bowl history.
My favorite off-the-field moment is Whitney Houston's national anthem before Super Bowl XXV. I always love to hear the anthem sung; and with everything that was going on with the Gulf War, I remember being mesmerized. Her voice gave me chills and brought me to the brink of tears.
Vinatieri's kick capped an amazing season for the 2001-02 Patriots.
On-the-field, there is certainly a long history of great plays, dating back to Super Bowl V when my buddy Bill Curry played for the Colts. They beat the Dallas Cowboys by a field goal with just seconds on the clock.
But the most memorable moment for me was the New England Patriots victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. At the time, I was in Hawaii, getting ready for the Pro Bowl. I watched the game on a battle ship with troops, which was a very moving experience in itself. We kept waiting for the Rams to pull away, but the Patriots stayed in the game. That final drive with the Pats going for the win was incredible. And when Adam Vinatieri kicked the 48-yard winning field goal, there was a deafening silence, followed by a complete eruption. And watching the 14-point underdog Patriots celebrate was as much fun as watching the kick itself.
Marcus Allen's 74-yard reverse-field TD run against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII is my favorite moment. It was during my freshman year at Arizona State and I went back home to see the game and to see how Allen would do. I think for every kid in southern California, that was a watershed moment because he was from the area and officially "made it" with that run. Immediately after the game, it seemed like every kid on my block was outside pretending to be Allen. His MVP performance inspired a lot of kids; and during the next high school year, everyone was wearing long jerseys and high socks with the No. 32 to pay homage to Allen.
I remember watching Tom Brady after Super Bowl XXXVI, with his helmet off, turn to Drew Bledsoe and you could read his lips as he said, "we did it." It was an extremely moving moment. It's very difficult to explain to people who haven't been there. Guys who have played in the Super Bowl and lost, know the devastation -- it's crushing. But winning is another story. Winning Super Bowl XVII was the single greatest moment in my life. The reality of the Redskins having won the World Championship hit me like a tidal wave. I started to cry, I put the football up in one hand, and made the No. 1 sign and ran around the field. Talking about it now, I still get goose bumps. It was one moment in time that I will never forget -- there was no sound, and movement was in slow motion. It was as if time were standing still. I wish a moment like that in everyone's lifetime.