The biggest stage of them all, the Super Bowl. The biggest spectacle in all of sports, it has become just as big of a cultural event on the worldwide stage as it is football game. It has taken on a life of it’s own, and “Super Sunday” is the first big post-New Year’s day of the year. Despite all of the events, advertising, and parties around it, the very heart of it all is still the game. In the NFL there is no more surefire way to achieve legendary status than to do it in February football. Here in the CHEAP.SEATS, I’ll be taking a daily look at a different part of the Super Bowl from my perspective, both in the now and the past. This includes a countdown of the greatest Super Bowls of recent times, the biggest x-factors in this year’s game and eventually a breakdown and pick for who will take this year’s game.
First however, let’s take a look back at who has made this game what it is. Over the next two days, I’ll be breaking down my picks for the greatest Super Bowl team of my time. Now it would be easier to pick one team and pay homage to them, but instead I’m taking the best of the best of all the teams of my nearly 28 years here and placing them on one team, the ultimate fantasy draft of sorts. In part one, we’ll take a look at the defensive side of the ball and special teams picks, and come back with the offensive stars and the coach who’s legend looms largest.
Reggie White-Green Bay Packers (SB XXXI): The Minister of Defense is perhaps the greatest pass rusher in the history of the game, and he made good on this honor in his first of two appearance on Super Sunday, as his three sacks set a Super Bowl record and lead helped push the Packers to their first Super Bowl win since Super Bowl II.
Charles Haley-San Francisco 49ers & Dallas Cowboys (SB XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII & XXX): Haley featured at both linebacker and defensive end during his record five Super Bowl wins during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Has record for most Super Bowl sacks with 4 and a half.
Darnell Dockett-Arizona Cardinals (SB XLIII): His three sacks for the Cardinals in 2009 tied Reggie White’s single game record, and came against a pretty difficult target to bring down, in the generously listed 250 pound form of Ben Roethlisberger.
Russell Maryland-Dallas Cowboys (SB XXVII, XXVIII & XXX): The former #1 overall pick helped to anchor a strong interior defense for Dallas’ three championship squads along with Leon Lett.
Mike Jones-St. Louis Rams (SB XXXIV & XXXVI): One play usually shouldn’t count for a career, but when that one play comes on the one yard line with no time left in the game and saves a Super Bowl win for your team, I’ll make an exception. “The Tackle” Jones landed in 2000 is one of the Super Bowl’s great moments.
Mike Vrabel-New England Patriots (SB XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX & XLII): Spotlight linebacker for the Patriots during their dynasty of the 2000’s. He has two Super Bowl sacks all-time, but his role as a goal line receiving option has landed him two crucial touchdowns in SB play as well.
Lawrence Taylor-New York Giants (SB XXI & XXV): The game’s greatest linebacker twice took his team to Super Bowls and walked away with two wins. He landed a couple of sacks and recovered a crucial fumble in SB XXV to setup the game winning field goal.
Ray Lewis-Baltimore Ravens (SB XXXV): Ray turned in perhaps the greatest defensive performance in the game’s history, with his 11 tackles (8 for a loss), 2 sacks and four pass deflections, in route to becoming the first linebacker to win Super Bowl MVP honors.
Tedy Bruschi-New England Patriots (SB XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX & XLII): The New England tackling machine was a catalyst for a tenacious defensive unit that stopped the historic “Greatest Show on Turf” in 2002, and went on to win 2 more Super Bowls in the next five years, including a sack and interception in a win versus the Eagles in 2005.
Deion Sanders-San Francisco 49ers & Dallas Cowboys (SB XXIX & XXX): Prime Time won back-to-back Super Bowls with both powerhouses of the NFC in the early 90’s. He netted an interception for the Niners in ’93 in a route over the Chargers and was as big of a return threat as coverage danger for the Cowboys versus the Steelers.
Ty Law-New England Patriots (SB XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX & XLII): Matched up with some of the eras best wide receivers (Isaac Bruce, Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress and Steve Smith) as the Patriots top corner during their championship run. His interception return versus St. Louis played a huge role in their upset win in SB XXXIX.
Dexter Jackson-Tampa Bay Buccaneers (SB XXXVII): His two first half interceptions on league MVP Rich Gannon shorted out a dangerous Raider passing attack and kick started a 48-21 Buccaneer route, and led to him being named MVP of the game.
Ronnie Lott-San Francisco 49ers (SB XVI, XIX, XXIII & XXIV): A standout at free and strong safety, and even cornerback for the 49ers during their dominance of the 1980’s. Lott made his impact felt in coverage, but more so in presence with his devastating hits. One of only four players to suit up in all four 49er Super Bowl wins, and went undefeated on Super Sunday.
Chris Gardocki-Pittsburgh Steelers (SB XL): In a back and forth defensive matchup, Gardocki averaged over 48 yards per punt for the Steelers in their 2006 championship, giving their impressive defense solid field position in route to holding the Seahawks to 10 points.
Desmond Howard-Green Bay Packers (SB XXXI): The former Heisman Trophy winner made his NFL bones in one night’s work for the Packers in 1997. His 244 total yards, including a 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, made his the first special teamer to win Super Bowl MVP honors.