There were so many Brett Favre highlights and testimonials on the airwaves this week, even the man who provoked them pleaded for mercy.
"I realized what it's like to die," Favre said Thursday during his emotional retirement press conference in Green Bay, a sign that the biggest story of the NFL offseason has probably received sufficient coverage.
So rather than throw another cyber log onto the raging blaze that mesmerizes us all, I'm going to run a little misdirection play and revisit an idea broached last month in Trippin' On E(Mail).
In response to an earlier column in which I rated the six best Super Bowls of all time, reader Jennifer Wallace of Seattle wanted to know which Ultimate Games I thought were the worst ever.
In picking these six stinkers, my reasoning had to do with suspense (or lack thereof), absence of signature moments and an intangible I'd describe as forgettability, if I may be so bold as to make up a word.
Alas, I couldn't work Favre into this list, but I did manage to find a Packers connection. Those of you who can see through the tears can check it out below.
6. Super Bowl II, 1968, Green Bay 33, Oakland 14
Everyone knows the basics of the first Super Bowl – MVP Bart Starr hooking up repeatedly with hungover hero Max McGee to give Vince Lombardi and the Packers a resounding victory over the AFC interloper Chiefs. And we're all aware of the legend of shot-caller Broadway Joe Namath and the Jets' seminal upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. This game is the lost classic, if by classic we mean classically unwatchable. The favored Packers had a quick 13-0 lead and led 26-7 after three quarters, with Starr again earning MVP honors (yawn) off a 13-of-24, 202-yard, one-touchdown performance. Oh, and Don Chandler kicked four field goals. No wonder Lombardi quit after this game.
5. Super Bowl XX, 1986, Chicago 46, New England 10
"If anyone here can give me one good reason to stay awake, speak now or forever hold your silence," I remember slurring while lying on my back on the ratty carpet of a friend's Berkeley, Calif., apartment early in the fourth quarter of this game. Thirty seconds of silence later, I was snoring as the obligatory Super Bowl beerfest raged on above. Of all the unsightly Super Bowl blowouts I considered placing here – Raiders over Redskins in '84, 'Skins over Broncos in '88, Niners over Broncos in '90, Cowboys over Bills in '93, Niners over Chargers in '95, Ravens over Giants in '01 – this one best represented both an affront to competitive balance and the lack of a memorable and lasting narrative. After an early Bears fumble set up a Patriots field goal just 1:19 into the game, Chicago ran off 44 consecutive points, the longest offensive scoring play an 11-yard run by fullback Matt Suhey. And the one moment we all remember, defensive tackle William (The Refrigerator) Perry's 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, was semi-tragic, with coach Mike Ditka choosing a circus act over the Super Bowl end-zone trip that Walter Payton so richly deserved.
4. Super Bowl XL, 2006, Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10
This was one of the more atrocious games I've witnessed in recent memory – not Super Bowls, but games in general. The Seahawks and their fans like to whine about the awful officiating, and they definitely have a point. But does anyone remember how sloppy tight end Jerramy Stevens and some of his teammates were at key moments? I still believe Seattle should have won this game but blew a golden opportunity. As for the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 9-for-21 for 123 yards, with two interceptions, and I literally had to console him in the locker room after he'd just become the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl. It was nice to see Hines Ward, one of the NFL's most underappreciated stars, earn MVP honors after catching a touchdown pass from fellow wideout Antwaan Randle El on a trick play, and Willie Parker's 75-yard run up the middle was impressive, albeit unspectacular. But the one magical moment we'd been awaiting – Jerome Bettis closing out his great career with a championship in his hometown – was a letdown: The Bus got stopped short of the goal line twice and gained just 43 yards on 14 carries.
3. Super Bowl VI, 1972, Dallas 24, Miami 3
This was the first act of what I like to call the Monotonous Miami Trilogy: three consecutive Super Bowls involving Don Shula's Dolphins, none of which was particularly compelling. All you need to know is that Roger Staubach, the game's MVP, completed 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards, while the Dolphins gained just 185 total yards. Larry Csonka fumbled, Bob Griese threw an interception and lost a fumble, and Paul Warfield was held to 39 receiving yards. A bunch of Cowboys fans complained when I didn't list any of Dallas's eight Super Bowls on my list of the six best; perhaps this will appease them. Or not.
2. Super Bowl VII, 1973, Miami 14, Washington 7
Certainly, watching the '72 Dolphins complete their perfect season was an experience steeped in historic significance. But man, was it dull. Miami allowed the Redskins across midfield only once and scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, the first on a 28-yard pass from Griese to Howard Twilley. After that, it was snooze city, until the only play that anyone remembers: Miami's Garo Yepremian hitting a low line drive on a 42-yard field goal attempt with just over two minutes left in the game, the ball getting blocked back to him, and the bald kicker picking it up and attempting to throw it to Csonka. It slipped out of his hand like a wet bar of soap, and he compounded the problem by flailing at the ball and batting it into the air. Then, after it was intercepted by Washington's Mike Bass, Yepremian further disgraced himself and his position by meekly flailing at the defender as Bass raced 49 yards for the 'Skins' lone score. Miami cornerback Jake Scott, who had two interceptions for 63 yards, was the MVP. To prove their boring victory was no fluke, Miami gave us an utterly mundane 24-7 triumph over the Vikings the following year in which Griese threw just seven passes. Zzzzzzzz.
1. Super Bowl IX, 1975, Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6
It's hard to believe that a game decided by a mere 10 points could be less appealing than the aforementioned clunkers, but this was one of the more one-sided and unsightly offerings in the history of pro sports championship contests. Here's the first thing you need to know about the first of the Steelers' four Super Bowls in a six-year span: The halftime score was Pittsburgh 2, Minnesota 0. So dominant was the Steel Curtain that this game could have lasted 12 quarters and the Vikings' offense still wouldn't have scored. The Steelers held Fran Tarkenton and company to 119 total yards, only 17 of which came on the ground. (Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's Franco Harris ran for 158 yards on 24 carries to earn MVP honors.) Trailing 9-0, Minnesota finally scored with 10:33 remaining in the game after Matt Blair blocked a Bobby Walden punt and Terry Brown recovered in the end zone. Naturally, the Vikes' Fred Cox missed the extra point, and the Steelers quickly dispensed with any faux suspense by driving 66 yards on 11 plays – a drive kept alive by a head linesman's overrule of tight end Larry Brown's fumble – and scoring on a four-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw to Brown with 3:31 remaining. Tarkenton's next pass was intercepted, and that was that. I was nine at the time, and if I spent a bundle on memory-repression therapy, I'm pretty sure I'd discover just how scarred I was after watching that game in its entirety. Imagine me in a hypnotic trance chanting, "I realized what it's like to die."
TAKE IT TO THE ATM
Linebacker Takeo Spikes, released by the Eagles on Thursday, will be an impact player for somebody in '08 … Citizens of Packer Nation will never adore Aaron Rodgers the way they do Brett Favre, but they will come to appreciate the new quarterback's sense of humor … If there is any justice in the world, PGA golfer Tripp Isenhour will face an aerial bombardment of bird excrement for the rest of his playing career.
LIES, LIES, LIES
1. There has been a better offseason acquisition than the Bills' trade with the Jaguars for defensive tackle Marcus Stroud.
2. After signing All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey's younger brother, Boss, to a free-agent contract on Thursday, the Broncos turned their attention to the baby of the family, Peon.
OXYGEN-DEPRIVED THOUGHT FROM ABOVE
So Al Davis, since the start of free agency, has written "guaranteed" checks worth $18.125 million to Tommy Kelly, a defensive tackle who had one sack in '07 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament midway through the season; $16 million to Gibril Wilson, a serviceable safety from the Giants; and $6 million for Javon Walker, a receiver struggling to regain his form after reconstructive knee surgery. But he won't pay the $1.7 million a source says it would cost to buy out coach Lane Kiffin, instead essentially sacrificing a season in an attempt to win a stare-down? That's some top-notch managerial skill at work.
LET'S DO SOME DON JULIO SILVER SHOTS FOR …
Kevin Johnson, who announced Wednesday he will run for mayor of Sacramento in June's municipal election. Back when we were at Cal in the mid-80s, my college friends and I liked to joke about how we planned to save the world. KJ, since retiring from the NBA eight years ago, has spent the better part of this decade actually following through. Through his non-profit community development corporation, St. HOPE, Johnson has worked to revitalize the low-income neighborhood in Sacramento in which he was raised and has transformed his struggling alma mater, Sacramento High, into a thriving charter school. The man still works at the same furious pace with which he once ran the point for the Suns, and I'm breaking out my old, oversized Bear's Lair cups to toast his political ambitions. And yes, this is an official political endorsement, one which KJ effectively sewed up at a random keg party in 1984.
YAHOO! SEARCH WORDS OF THE WEEK
YouTube Brett Favre tributes
ROLLIN' WITH THE ROYALS
Heading into last Sunday's game at Middlesboro, it was all doom and gloom for the Reading Football Club. The Royals hadn't won away from home all season and hadn't beaten anyone anywhere in 2008, and relegation loomed. But a dramatic goal by James Harper in injury time, which gave Reading a 1-0 victory over 'Boro, injected some life into what seemed like a lost season. Still below the relegation line with 10 games remaining but within three points of overtaking the four clubs ahead of them, the Royals hope to carry the momentum into Saturday's home match against eighth-place Manchester City. "Two games without a win was a bit much," Reading's American-born goalkeeper, Marcus Hahnemann, said via email. "Know we can gain a few more points."
LYRIC-ALTERED SONG DEDICATION OF THE WEEK
This one's for all the grieving Packers fans, with my friends from Nicky's Lionshead Pub in DePere, Wis., handling the Jerry vocal, to the tune of the Grateful Dead's "He's Gone":
"Jack's tasting salty, Muenster is bland
Moldy cheddar for Packers fans
Like I told you, what Brett said
Steal your cheese right off your head
Now he's gone, now he's gone
Lord he's gone
Like a Wisconsin summer, leaves all turnin' brown
He's gone, gone, skippin' out of Titletown
How could this happen?
Ted shoulda sent a corsage
Or rolled down south to give a foot massage
Tundra's still frozen
Grey is the sky
Nothin' left to do but cry, cry, cry!
Now he's gone, now he's gone
Lord he's gone
Like a Mississippi half-step
Dancin' past the Pack
He's gone, gone, nothin's gonna bring him back
Goin' where the wind chill ain't severe,
Gonna cruise all day on his John Deere
One bad pass and it all done crashed
Too tired to give us some more of the same
Same old brats on the barbie
Curds in the fridge
Moldy cheddar on my sandwich
Like I told you, what he said,
Steal your cheese right off your head
Now he's gone, now he's gone
Lord he's gone
Like a last Lambeau Leap Off the Leo Frigo Bridge
He's gone, gone, there's a hole between Oneida and Ridge
Ooh, nothin's gonna bring him back …"