With over 50 Super Bowls, there’s been no shortage of memorable moments in the biggest football game of the year. Yes, some Super Bowls have been complete duds, but there’s been plenty of great moments to make up for it. At the same time, there have been some truly puzzling and head-scratching moments to occur during Super Bowls. Most of these tend to float toward the back of our mind, so let’s take a stroll down memory lane and remember some of the weirdest moments in Super Bowl history.
Thurman Thomas Can’t Find Helmet
The rules of football dictate that you can’t participate if you’re not wearing a helmet. It’s for that reason that Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas missed the first play of Super Bowl XXVI, the second of Buffalo’s four straight Super Bowl losses. After all of the pre-game pageantry, Thomas couldn’t find his helmet until after the game had started. His pre-game ritual usually involved placing his helmet on the 34-yard line, but when he went to retrieve it, the helmet was gone.
Thomas remains bitter about the mistake to this day, in part because he was held to just 13 rushing yards on 10 carries in a loss. One theory about the missing helmet is that someone involved in pre-game preparations moved it for Harry Connick Jr., who sang the national anthem before the game. It’s also possible that a teammate picked up the helmet believing it was his. Thomas not being able to participate in the first play of the game probably wouldn’t have changed anything in a 37-24 loss, but it’s certainly an odd moment.
The Lights Go Out During Super Bowl XLVII
Nobody who was watching Super Bowl XLVII is likely to ever forget about the power going out in the Superdome in the middle of the game. It’s probably easier to remember that moment than remember who won the game between the Ravens and 49ers. Think about it, there is so much preparation that goes into putting on a Super Bowl, how could the lights simply go out like that?
The game had to be delayed by 34 minutes while staff at the Superdome sorted out the problem. The fact that it happened less than two minutes into the second half after the lengthy halftime break was even more frustrating. Thankfully, a 15-page report was released a month later explaining what went wrong. Apparently, the switchgears (whatever those do) contained a device designed to shut down the power if a specific amperage threshold was reached, and the settings were too low. Those of us who don’t have a degree in electrical engineering just know that the lights went out and that it was equally weird and inconvenient.
David Tyree’s Catch
As far as things that happened on the field during a Super Bowl, it doesn’t get much crazier than this play. During Super Bowl XLII between the Giants and Patriots, New York receiver David Tyree came up with one of the greatest catches of all-time. Quarterback Eli Manning was in the grasp of a defender and was nearly sacked before escaping to make the throw. If you watch the video, the ref nearly blew the play dead to save Manning from being thrown to the ground. But the whistle never blew and Manning was able to get the throw off to Tyree, who was able to pin the ball against his helmet with both hands while falling to the ground to prevent the ball from ever hitting the turf.
Part of what makes this catch so crazy is all of the circumstances around it. At the time, the Patriots were less than two minutes away from winning the game and capping off the first undefeated season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. The catch came on a third down and got the Giants 32 yards closer to eventually scoring the game-winning touchdown on another amazing throw by Manning to Plaxico Burress. In another twist, this crazy play ended up being the last catch of Tyree’s career.
Joe Montana Spots John Candy
So, you’re one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, your team is trailing in the final minutes of the Super Bowl, what do you do? Go! Well, if you’re Joe Montana, you break some of the tension by pointing out actor John Candy standing on the sideline watching the game. As the story goes, Montana and the San Francisco offense was huddled up during a TV timeout when Montana pointed and said, “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?” It was a bizarre thing to say, especially since it proceeded a 92-year drive that took less than three minutes and won Super Bowl XXIII for the 49ers.
Montana later explained that offensive lineman Harris Barton had spent the week leading up to the game mentioning all of the celebrities he saw out and about in the Miami area who were in town for the game. He says that Barton hadn’t mentioned seeing Candy that week, so for the benefit of one of his linemen, Montana pointed out Candy, who was part of NBC’s pre-game coverage. It’s no doubt an odd Super Bowl story and one that’s remarkably true.
Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction
It only took a split second to happen and if you blinked at the wrong time you might have missed it. However, that’s all it took for the most memorable moment in Super Bowl halftime history to happen. During the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson took the stage together with Timberlake tearing off part of Jackson’s dress to reveal her breast for less than a second. Most people watching needed to do a double-take, assuming they were mistaken, but upon further review, Jackson was indeed exposed, instantly becoming a part of Super Bowl infamy.
That half-second of live TV created a firestorm of controversy and became a flashpoint in television and popular culture. The event helped to spur the creation of YouTube and could be viewed as a precursor to social media so that people would have an outlet to immediate express their reaction to such events. Of course, the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” remains a part of the Lexicon and it remains almost impossible to talk about a Super Bowl halftime show without remembering the half-second of craziness that was Timberlake and Jackson’s incident.