It’s a shame that this Super Bowl is largely remembered for the first “wardrobe malfunction” on major television. This was actually one of the more exciting finishes to a Super Bowl of the era. Yet in our pop culture starved society, 20 years from now, people won’t even remember the near fourth quarter heroics of some guy named Jake Delhomme, but they’ll remember JT flashing that Janet Jackson boob.
Myself? I remember this win as the largest haul I ever took home in Super Bowl history. It would have never happened without my friend Pooch.
Pooch is a big time New England Patriots fan. Whenever I had been in Vegas with him, he also seemed to look at that sports book wall with a Neo from The Matrix type trance. I had a nice chunk of change tied up in my Bodog account and a little jingle in another account, so I asked Pooch how confident he was that his boys would win by the seven point spread.
He told me that he had zero confidence. He said split my money in half, take the Panthers with the points, but the Pats with the money line. He told me at the very least, he was confident I would win one and be back where I started, but at the most I would be way ahead. I liked the sounds of that.
I also remember after I split all the money I had, I had $10 remaining in one account. I thought I would have some fun. I took the $10 and looked for a fun prop bet. I said to myself Deion Branch is the exact kind of guy that becomes a Super Bowl legend. So at 12-1 odds that he would score first, I put my last chunk of change on my new favorite player.
We were at Sparky and Seth’s place in Atlanta for this one. Unlike other Super Bowls that the Patriots would be involved in, Orlando was the lone New England fan in a house pretty well represented by Panthers fans like Wendy and Angelica.
The first quarter was a bore. Here’s what I remember most about that first half. Adam Vinatieri lined up for a field goal. The most clutch kicker in postseason history lined up for a chip shot and I was convinced that my prop bet was done. Vinatieri missed and I stood and cheered.
Here’s what else I remember. Vinatieri came out AGAIN for a field goal and this time it was blocked. Some gambling god was smiling down on me because my dog Deion was still alive for first score.
Finally with just minutes left in the first half of a 0-0 game, Brady had the Pats in the red zone and hit Branch for a five-yard touchdown. I ran all over the house screaming that Branch was my new favorite player in history. It wasn’t that I won an incredible large sum of money, it was that I felt like I had been in a battle with Branch and in the end he wouldn’t let us lose.
After sitting in a full house and watching over 26 minutes of shutout football, Delhomme would tie the game up in a little over a minute. Brady would march down and get the lead back in less than half a minute. Delhomme would close out the half by getting the Panthers in field goal range.
Holy cow! In a little over three minutes, the score change four times. This was no heavy weight fight, this was a street brawl and it was go time. At 14-10, I also started feeling that The Pooch was dead on in his prediction.
Then Janet Jackson’s boob came out. It wasn’t that it came out and was a wardrobe malfunction as they would later claim. Justin Timberlake ripped her dang shirt open. I remember the camera panning away so quickly, but it was too late. The damage was done.
I read later it would become the most TiVo-ed event in the history of TiVo.
Good thing it happened, because the third quarter was a total drag again. After teasing the nation with a four minute slugfest, the offenses went quiet again. It was merely an appetizer for what would be the sickest fourth quarter in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots and Panthers would combine for 37 points in that fourth quarter. When Delhomme hit the always dangerous Ricky Proehl (remember what I said yesterday?) to tie the game with one minute left, I knew exactly what was going to happen.
A terrible kickoff by John Kasay gave the Pats a short field. No one gives Brady a short field and walks away from it. A few mid-range passes to Troy Brown and a longer one to my hero Branch brought Vinatieri out for a field goal.
Brady and Vinatieri did it again. More importantly, they won the Super Bowl 32-29. Pooch’s directions came through, and I sprinted to the back porch of Sparky’s house and called Pooch screaming and laughing. I couldn’t believe it. I hit every bet on the Super Bowl.
People always ask me why I don’t hate the Patriots. It’s pretty simple. I won the box game when they beat the Rams. I took home a ton of money in that Panthers Super Bowl. The following season, when they were favored by a touchdown yet again over the Eagles, I followed Pooch’s plan once again to a T. Remember that score? Yea, 24-21.
In three Super Bowl wins, the Patriots won each game by a field goal. They won their most recent Super Bowl 28-24. Think about that. The unquestioned greatest team of this millennium has won four Super Bowl by a total of 13 points.
The Cowboys — the dynasty right before the Pats took over — won their three Super Bowls by 62 total points.
But hey, they didn’t give us Janet Jackson’s boob.
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