We are less than two weeks away from another Super Bowl: the biggest moment of the sports year and the most watched spectacle in media. A lot of people have a lot invested in the big game going off without a hitch. Not only do Roger Goodell and the thirty-two owner cartel in control of the NFL want things to go well, but the brands who bought ad time, the artists at the halftime show, and the media apparatus that covers, dissects, and repackages the event want things to run smoothly.
Even though there is so much riding on the Super Bowl going well, sometimes it doesn’t. From flubbed plays to botched halftime celebrations, here are the Most Awkward Moments in Super Bowl History.
Super Bowl XLII
January 28, 2008
Super Bowl media has always been a place for ridiculous antics and media stunts. Though there have been a number of great Media Day moments over the years, one the all-time best was when AztecaTV reporter Ines Gomez Mont’s proposed to Tom Brady during a press Q&A.
Mont truly played her part, performing her press duties in a wedding dress. Sadly, preparation doesn’t always lead to victory. Mont was turned down by Brady and opposing quarterback Eli Manning that day.
Maybe she’ll run into Johnny Manziel on the Vegas Strip during the off-season.
Figure Skating At Half Time
Super Bowl XXVI
January 26, 1992
Before the modern era of halftime shows starring A-list musical talent, the Super Bowl halftime show went through an awkward phase. And we mean awkward. In 1992, the show had a “Winter Magic” theme and featured a Frosty the Snowman rap, men on stilts, and figure skaters Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill.
Next time your sick of Bruno Mars or the Black-Eyed Peas, just remember the video above, that is, if you were able to get through it without gagging.
Are You Being Seduced Mr. Robinson?
Super Bowl XXXIII
January 31, 1999
The morning before the Super Bowl, Eugene Robinson was presented with the Bart Starr Award, a distinction given to those of high moral character. That night, Robinson was arrested for soliciting oral sex from an undercover cop.
The good news is he still had a good game.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
February 1, 2004
Though this beautifully awkward moment was overshadowed by the now infamous wardrobe malfunction that occurred at halftime, there was another memorable moment of skin showing at Super Bowl 38. British streaker Mark Roberts snuck onto the field dressed as a referee and let is all hang out before being tackled by an angry Patriots player and escorted from the field.
You can’t fault the NFL for failing to catch Roberts before he went on his hot streak. He is a pro. As of 2013, Roberts had streaked at over 500 events. From beauty pageants to weather forecasts, Roberts has streaked them all.
If you want to learn more about Roberts, Erroll Morris has blessed us with a short documentary on the legendary streaker. It’s certainly more entertaining than any halftime show we’ve ever seen.
Safe Tibet Someone Got Fired for This
Super Bowl XLV
February 6, 2011
Super Bowl commercials do whatever they can to stand out from the pack. Far too often “whatever they can” means sexism and objectifying women. Groupon found a new group to marginalize back in 2011 when they made a commercial mocking the struggles of the Tibetan people. While the creatives behind the commercial cried “No harm, no foul,” most viewers were either dumbfounded at how tasteless the commercial was or incredibly offended at the lack of sensitivity towards human rights violations.
A tip for ad execs: mocking oppression is probably off-limits when it comes to selling coupons.
Super Bowl XXVII
January 31, 1993
It’s difficult to find bright spots in the Buffalo Bills early 90s Super Bowl performances. The Bills are the only team ever to lose the big one four times in a row. The lone positive moment in an otherwise brutal game for the Bills (final score 52-17) came when Don Beebe stripped defensive lineman Leon Lett on the goal line because Lett has slowed down to celebrate his touchdown before he actually scored a touchdown.
The play didn’t make a difference in the game, but we can be reasonably sure that Lett never forgot it. Also, you have to admire hustle in the face of certain defeat.
Stick To What You Know
Super Bowl VII
January 14, 1973
The job of kicker in the NFL only really exists so that fans will have scapegoats when things go wrong. If you don’t believe that, just ask Blair Walsh. The demonizing of kickers is a time honored NFL tradition. They were even doing it back in 1973.
The Miami Dolphins teams of the early 70s were some of the best of all time. The 1972 squad is the only undefeated team of all time, and the 1973 group easily repeated as Super Bowl champions. The only spot on their otherwise sterling record was this odd play that came to be known as Garo’s Gaffe. Kicker Garo Yepremian made a pathetic attempt at a pass after a blocked field goal that resulted in a brutal pick six.
Thankfully for Yepremian, the Dolphins won the game easily. Otherwise, he might have thought about skipping the team flight back to Miami and joining witness protection.
Super Bowl XLVII
Feb 3, 2013
One of the most competitive games in recent Super Bowl history was overshadowed by an unprecedented freak power outage during the third quarter. We aren’t used to a half-hour break during the Super Bowl, but that’s exactly what happened when the lights went out in the Superdome.
This would have likely been a bigger story is the 49ers used the shift in momentum that led them to seventeen unanswered third quarter points to win the game. Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists (like future hall of famer and alleged murderer Ray Lewis) and fortunately for people within earshot of those conspiracy theorists, the Raven hung on to win the game, and Blackout Truthers had to find something else to get theorize about, like what happened to Colin Kaepernick’s career.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
Feb 1, 2004
The most infamous moment in Super Bowl history didn’t happen during the game and only lasted for about half a second. The accidental exposing of Janet Jackson’s nipple by Justin Timberlake set off a national conversation about decency on television and ushered in a new era of puritanical broadcast censorship. When Justin ripped off Janet’s breast plate, the country once again showed its taste for holier than thou bullshit, treating the nipple as though it were a large cock slapped against our collective faces in IMAX 3-D.
A mere 10 years later, at best, Nipplegate looks like non-issue. At worst it looks like unnecessary shaming that damaged a woman’s career. Even former FCC Chairman Michael Powell is more than over it. He told ESPN, “I had to put my best version of outrage on that I could put on … I personally thought that was really unfair. It all turned into being about her. In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin [Timberlake] ripping off her breastplate.” That doesn’t make up for the ridiculous, condescending statements he and other execs made at the time, but at least the intervening years have given them some perspective.
If there is any take away from Nipplegate, it isn’t that you should stay covered up on TV or face the wrath of the censors. The right lesson to learn from the halftime fiasco is that no matter how awkward a moment you have, eventually everyone will get over it and go back to watching football.
Super Bowl XXV
January 27, 1991
Of course, there are some awkward moments that can never be forgotten. And as far as fans are concerned, they can never be forgiven.
Sometimes a moment is so awkward it goes beyond that uncomfortable and into the deeply painful. Such is the case of Scott Norwood. If you ask any NFL kicker about their worst-case scenario, they would tell you that it’s missing the game winning field goal in the Super Bowl.
That’s exactly what Norwood did.
Not only did Norwood miss the game winner, but this was the closest that the Bills would get to a Super Bowl victory. They would go on to lose the next three Super Bowls and all by a much larger margin than the one point loss to the New York Giants in 1991.
Things only got worse for Buffalo from there. The city has not won a major sports championship since 1965, and unless current QB Tyrod Taylor develops into a Pro Bowler, the drought is likely to continue.