Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alternate Reality Football

We have a way to go before football season but I always get the fever about this time of year. It's a month after the draft, almost four months after the Super Bowl, and preseason is just over two tantalizing months away. I thought I'd take a look at the history of the league, and how only a few games could change everything.

Since 1966 -- the beginning of the Super Bowl era -- there have been a total of 14,134 regular season games, played, plus hundreds of playoff games. But when you think about it, if you reversed the decisions of just 43 of those games (less than 0.003%), the entire league would look completely different.

But it doesn't seem so unusual if you just reverse the fortunes of the 43 Super Bowl games that have been played over the last ... well, 43 years. Remember, we've still had fewer Super Bowls than we have presidents! That will change, of course, when the Bills win Super Bowl 44.

In the real world, the NFC has won 22 Super Bowls, and the AFC has won 21. (The Patriots could have tipped the balance in the AFC's favor had they stopped planning Disney World speeches and beaten the Giants, but such is life.)

Let's look at the first four Super Bowls, when the National Football League and the American Football League still had yet to officially merge. Here are the bizarro results (I am going to use Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals for ease of reading):

Super Bowl 1: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS defeat Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl 2: OAKLAND RAIDERS defeat Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl 3: BALTIMORE COLTS defeat New York Jets
Super Bowl 4: MINNESOTA VIKINGS defeat Kansas City Chiefs

Since the AFL and NFL each won two games in these initial contests, it doesn't change the league dynamics all that much, other than making Kansas City the winners of the inaugural game, the Packers choking away two consecutive games (wonder what that might be like) and the Vikings beginning their soon-to-be decade of dominance. In the most exciting game of the first four, Joe Namath valiantly attempted to upset the heavily-favored Colts, but Johnny Unitas had one more miracle left in him, leading the Baltimore to their last football title ever to date.

Now, onto the 1970s!

Super Bowl 5: DALLAS COWBOYS defeat Baltimore Colts
Super Bowl 6: MIAMI DOLPHINS defeat Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 7: WASHINGTON REDSKINS defeat Miami Dolphins
Super Bowl 8: MINNESOTA VIKINGS defeat Miami Dolphins
Super Bowl 9: MINNESOTA VIKINGS defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
Super Bowl 10: DALLAS COWBOYS defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
Super Bowl 11: MINNESOTA VIKINGS defeat Oakland Raiders
Super Bowl 12: DENVER BRONCOS defeat Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 13: DALLAS COWBOYS defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
Super Bowl 14: LOS ANGELES RAMS defeat Pittsburgh Steelers

Oh, those poor Steelers of the '70s. They made the game an unprecedented four times in six seasons, and lost all of them. I wonder what that's like.

The bizarro 1970s were clearly dominated by the NFC, who won eight out of ten Super Bowls. The Cowboys and Vikings tie the decade with three each, but the Vikings get the edge for "Team of the '70s" because of their Super Bowl Four win, which technically took place in January 1970. However, the Cowboys get special consideration by making it to exactly half the Super Bowls of the 1970s (true in both the bizarro and real world).

Amazing that the '72 Dolphins came THIS close to having the NFL's first perfect season since the merger, until Garo Yepremien botched a field goal to allow the Redskins to score late in the game, take the momentum and win the game. Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith's clutch catch in the endzone of Super Bowl Thirteen gave Dallas the lead and the momentum over the star-crossed Steelers. The then-all-time passing leader Fran Tarkenton got his crowning third Super Bowl ring in four years in Super Bowl Eleven.

On to the 1980s!

Super Bowl 15: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES defeat Oakland Raiders
Super Bowl 16: CINCINNATI BENGALS defeat San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl 17: MIAMI DOLPHINS defeat Washington Redskins
Super Bowl 18: WASHINGTON REDSKINS defeat Los Angeles Raiders
Super Bowl 19: MIAMI DOLPHINS defeat San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl 20: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS defeat Chicago Bears
Super Bowl 21: DENVER BRONCOS defeat New York Giants
Super Bowl 22: DENVER BRONCOS defeat Washington Redskins
Super Bowl 23: CINCINNATI BENGALS defeat San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl 24: DENVER BRONCOS defeat San Francisco 49ers

In four attempts, the pesky 49ers couldn't quite get over the hump, making Joe Montana possibly the greatest QB that ever lived who never won a championship. The Patriots performed the upset of the decade, toppling the mighty 15-1 Bears. But it was the Denver Broncos, led by John Elway, who dominated the second half of the decade, winning three out of four Super Bowls. The Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals -- the two AFC expansion teams of the 1960s -- showed a lot of toughness as well, with two wins each. Amazingly, the Washington Redskins would be the last NFC team to win a Super Bowl for fourteen long years.

The 1990s weren't just the advent of the internet and the Bedazzler! It was the decade of change ... and going back to the future!

Super Bowl 25: BUFFALO BILLS defeat New York Giants
Super Bowl 26: BUFFALO BILLS defeat Washington Redskins
Super Bowl 27: BUFFALO BILLS defeat Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 28: BUFFALO BILLS defeat Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 29: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS defeat San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl 30: PITTSBURGH STEELERS defeat Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl 31: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS defeat Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl 32: GREEN BAY PACKERS defeat Denver Broncos
Super Bowl 33: ATLANTA FALCONS defeat Denver Broncos

Clearly, the Team of the Bizarro '90s was the Buffalo Bills, run by the K-Gun offense, they started their good-karma with a clutch 47-yard Scott Norwood field goal to win Super Bowl Twenty-Five by a score of 22-20. Many compare them to the (real-life) New York Islanders of the early 1980s. The rest of the Decade shows a second Super Bowl win for the Patriots, and the first taste of victory for the Steelers and Packers, who had each been to the big game multiple times prior, but never able to win. Two major Super Bowl upsets in a row happened, with Atlanta defeating the 15-1 Broncos, and the Titans beating the high-flying Rams. (Note: the Titans got to the Bizarro-world Super Bowl by performing a completely legal lateral pass in a playoff game against Buffalo. In Bizarro-world, the play was 100% legit, and Phil Luckett was named head of officiating instead of being tortured in my dreams.)

Last but not least, the turn of the Millennium, with a couple surprises along the way!

Super Bowl 35: ST. LOUIS RAMS defeat New England Patriots
Super Bowl 36: NEW YORK GIANTS defeat Baltimore Ravens
Super Bowl 37: OAKLAND RAIDERS defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Super Bowl 38: CAROLINA PANTHERS defeat New England Patriots
Super Bowl 39: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES defeat New England Patriots
Super Bowl 40: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
Super Bowl 41: CHICAGO BEARS defeat Indianapolis Colts
Super Bowl 42: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS defeat New York Giants
Super Bowl 43: ARIZONA CARDINALS defeat Pittsburgh Steelers

Once again, the Steelers have a tough decade, losing two Super Bowls in four years, mostly because they got very little help from the officials in both games. The Patriots looked to be having a bad go of it as well, losing three of four games, before finally capping off their perfect 2007 season by defeating the Giants.

So to recap:

Bizarro Team of the 1970s: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Bizarro Team of the 1980s: DENVER BRONCOS
Bizarro Team of the 1990s: BUFFALO BILLS
Bizarro Team of the 2000s: ????

Well folks, it has been a wild, wild ride. I hope you enjoyed this trip down a twisted path. And think, if just 43 games -- out of the 14,000+ that have been played in the Super Bowl era -- had had different results, this wouldn't have been bizarro at all, but real!!!!

How's your mind? Blown? I'm sure it is. Of course, to the kids in third world countries, this is how it really happened anyway.

1 comment:

Pickle said...

Oakland Raiders win XXXVII...

12-4 this year. Where can I find a shirt to let everyone else know that we deserved it.. and some fucktard decided to kill Nebraska's reputation at the same time.

Go raiders.