With Super Bowl 50 just around the corner, ESPN Gainesville looks back at some of the history of the big game with some of football’s most prominent pioneers.
Bill Parcells has two Super Bowl rings to his name as head coach of the New York Giants. In Super Bowl XXI, Phil Simms completed 23-of-25 and threw three touchdowns as the Giants beat John Elway’s Denver Broncos 39-20. Then in Super Bowl XXV, the Giants needed a fourth quarter field goal to defeat Trent Kelly’s Buffalo Bills 20-19.
“I’ve got the memories when you finally realize that you’re going to be a champion and what a euphoric feeling that is,” said Parcells, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013. “I’m very fortunate to have participated in three of them and like I said, I enjoyed the process very much.”
But not every player finds success when reaching the pinnacle game. NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Chris Hanburger reached the Super Bowl only once in his 14 seasons with the Washington Redskins. Despite only allowing 14 points in Super Bowl VII, his Redskins lost to the undefeated Miami Dolphins.
“We lost,” Hanburger said when asked about what memories he has from playing in the Super Bowl. “We played one heck of a football team, the Miami Dolphins.”
“I guess we were lucky just to have it end up being 14-7 when you think about it,” Hanburger added. The Redskins’ were held scoreless until the last two minutes of the game.
Former NFL linebacker Willie Lanier, on the other hand, tasted Super Bowl success during Super Bowl IV when his Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7.
“It was just a real positive opportunity to have a chance to still be standing at the end of the season playing in a game that was going to denote the championship,” said Lanier, who was inducted into NFL Hall of Fame in 1986.
One man who got a healthy dose of playing on the biggest stage was Hall of Fame offensive tackle Rayfield Wright. He played for five Dallas Cowboys teams that made the Super Bowl (1970, 1971, 1975, 1977, and 1978). The Cowboys won two of those Super Bowls: VI against the Miami Dolphins and XII against the Denver Broncos.
“The hype of the Super Bowl game will never disappear,” said Wright. “No matter what two teams are playing in it, it’s still the Super Bowl and it’s the ultimate game in professional football.”
“Broadway” Joe Namath experienced Super Bowl success as well as was named Super Bowl III MVP when his New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7.
“I remember their faces, I remember their faces,” Namath said about the memories he had of playing in the Super Bowl. “I remember the noises. I remember our guys’ eyes in the huddle, man, so intense.”
New memories will be created for Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, and all the cast of characters in Super Bowl 50 when the Broncos face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.