Top 10 Super Bowl Disgraces
The Greatest Show on Earth – provided the neighbors remember to shut their curtains – is the Super Bowl. While the World Cup draws a much larger global audience, it can’t measure up to the NFL’s manifestation of greed, garishness, and hyperbole (and that’s just the halftime show).
One of the main reasons sports exist, besides giving gamblers something to bet on other than whom among them will die of coronary disease first, is to please people who have a thirst for a never-ending source of statistics and trivia that will probably never be useful even on Celebrity Jeopardy: High School Dropout Edition.
Did you know that more toilets are flushed during the Super Bowl’s half-time show than at any other time of year? And in a related “fact”, that the phrase, “Holy Christ Bob, what have you been eating? Light a candle next time for chrissake!” is said more on Super Sunday than at any other time of year? (Editor’s Note: Snopes says despite popular belief, people do not sit in agony with bodily functions threatening to rupture something internally during Super Bowl games, and there is no truth to the rumor that city sewage systems have been crippled by half-time loaf-pinching.)
We can’t fault broadcasters with more airtime to fill than a direct flight to Singapore for regaling us with facts such as how teams playing in domed stadiums and those going by the name “Buffalo Bills” have never won a Super Bowl. We wish though that broadcasters would spice up Super Bowl coverage by focusing on the game’s darker side, the seamy past of a game as rich in its vices as the meals of its offensive linemen (an accurate term) are in calories.
Here we attempt to redress this disparity with our Top 10 Super Bowl Disgraces, and no, Bills fans, we’re not going after you again – these do not involve on-field play.
It was 2004 and an embattled American football-watching public was on the line to the guardians of public decency after being forced to gaze at the unholy specter of Janet Jackson’s nipple. Just before the second half began, Briton Mark Roberts, the World’s Most Prolific Streaker (he has a broad range and is considered the Meryl Streep of nudity in front of sprinting naked at public sporting events), ran onto the field dressed in a referee’s outfit, took that off and did a dance. Yes, the unsightly photo to the right is a still from this performance. But, like a three-game winning streak for the Toronto Raptors, this streak had to come to an end sooner than later — members of the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers as well as police and security tackled him and he was taken into custody. And if there was ever any question as to how seriously Americans take their football, the incident resulted in the Brit being banned from the US.
Drinking and driving is of course disgraceful, but it’s easier to get laughs from looking at attempts to curb the activity during Super Bowl weekend.
This creative effort from the Roseville, California police department is typical of efforts to speak in the language of the drunken Ripped and Ready to Ride football fan. Presumably the prospect of losing one’s license or ending up a vegetable after a wreck does not penetrate to the heart of the football, but ones things are laid out in game terms the message comes across:
* HUDDLE with your teammates before the game and designate a sober driver.
* RUN to the phone and call a taxi cab or a sober friend for a ride home, or
* PASS on going out, and enjoy the game at home.
A more accurate rundown of Super Sunday:
*HUDDLE outside as you smoke weed.
*RUN to the bathroom to throw up
8. A Super Bowl Ring of A Different Sort
Trivia time: The NFL pays $5,000 for each of up to 150 Super Bowl rings, which then go on to become the most oft-cited pieces of jewelery in sports-related crime reports.
Here we are talking about a Super Bowl ring that involved thieves, not the guys at the ticket or beer stands, but a consortium of pickpockets and other scoundrels who formed a Super Bowl crime ring for the big game in northern California in 1985. About 20 to 30 pickpockets plied their trade at the San Francisco airport, and three were arrested for stealing luggage. Police later found $800,000 in property at their hotel, as well as weapons and jewelry. It would be one of the few times in history when a big news story would link crime and the Super Bowl and a team executive would not have to arrange bail payment for a player.
As blizzards buried Washington in 20 inches of snow in late January 1987, Barry, no stranger to the white stuff himself if you catch our drift, relaxed in Pasadena on a Super Bowl vacation. As public works officials fumbled, the mayor partied, eventually collapsing after smoking cocaine “laced with something”, according to a friend. Running back Stanley Wilson, in keeping with the team ethos the Cincinnati Bengals have developed over the years, was found face down in the Peruvian marching powder and missed the big game.
6. Koo-Koo-Ka-Choo Mr. Robinson
Having happened in less than 24 hours, this has to be one of the quickest falls from grace in NFL history. On the day prior to the 1999 Super Bowl in Miami, Atlanta Falcons free safety Eugene Robinson spent the morning accepting the Bart Starr Award for “high moral character” from a Christian group called Athletes in Action. The appropriateness of the name of the award wouldn’t become apparent until later that same evening when Robinson was arrested by an undercover officer for offering her $40 for sex.
5. Embezzling Down Pats
In 1997, Sheriff’s officials arrested a Spring Valley man accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from the New England Patriots football team, and of selling fraudulent Super Bowl tickets in Massachusetts. Of course, the Patriots and their current head coach are no strangers to cheating, having used spy cameras to monitor opponents. As mentioned here previously, a better name for them would be the New England Patriot Acts.
Of Bruce Springsteen’s 2009 Super Bowl half-time performance, Seattle PI wrote: “The best part of the show was when Springsteen did a good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll power slide across the stage and landed, crotch first, on an NBC camera. After the ill-fated Springsteen slide, The Boss got right up and was all smiles.”
In 2007, Prince also reminded the football-loving public of man’s ability to fornicate during the half-time show when an image of him playing his guitar was projected onto a a large sheet and some were left wondering if he was just happy to see everybody.
3. Tail-Gate Terror?
Tailgate parties are the best way to support your team that involves getting your face-painted, getting drunk, and hopefully throwing up on the car of a VIP. In 2008, a 36-year-old restaurant owner, was upset with authorities for denying him a liquor license. To right this injustice he did what all people looking for a quick and satisfactory conclusion to their beefs do: he began writing insane letters to different newspapers. In these, he promised a “revolution” (presumably the aim of the revolution was to ensure that anyone who wants a Bacardi Breezer can have one, regardless of age), and carnage, which he said would be “swift and bloody”.He brought a semi-automatic rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition to a parking lot near University of Phoenix Stadium where tailgate activities were taking place, but did not go through with his promised act of violence and ended up turning himself in.
The interesting thing about sports-related riots is that they can occur even after a victory, such as the riots in Montreal that happen any time the Canadiens hockey team does anything even remotely successful, like catch the bus on time. A combination of heavy “victory drinking”, and the exuberance of triumph being channeled in the most destructive manner possible means that a win for the home team could mean a hometown businessman filling out insurance forms the following morning for destroyed property. Even then though, people tend to go about turning over police cars and setting random fires with the kind of joie de vivre and good spirits attached to victory.
Things get meaner when the hometown loses, as they Oakland Raiders did in the 2003 Super Bowl. Oakland fans burned 12 cars, did a bunch of other damage; a McDonald’s restaurant was also among the collateral damage, which goes to show that every descent into anarchy has its bright spots. It took 400 cops to quell the melee. Said one rioter: “If they would’ve won, we wouldn’t be doing this.”
The NFL is often dubbed the National Felon League and that seems unfair until you consider the fact that when Ray Lewis was arrested for murder, he was the second player in the league to face that charge in two months. Lewis was at a Super Bowl party in 2000 with two friends when a fight broke out with another group — two members of that group were stabbed to death. He beat the murder charge, but the public’s association between his name and murderous brawling did not endear him to Disney. Despite being the Super Bowl MVP, Lewis did not get the sponsorships to go with it and missed his moment with Mickey and the “I’m going to Disneyland [to elbow my way past the autograph hounds, sign a major promotional contract and swim in money!]” .
The Shark Guys are the authors of Tastes Like Human: The Shark Guys’ Book of Bitingly Funny Lists