by | Jan 30, 1995 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

MIAMI — Well, that was some Super Bowl, wasn’t it, complete with brutal collisions, diving catches and narrow escapes? I am speaking, of course, of the halftime show. The game itself was slow in getting started since the 49ers were being fitted for rings while still in the tunnel.

Hail, Steve. Hail, Jerry. Hail a cab. With apologies to the new NFL champions, was there ever a more pointless finale? Was there ever a Super Bowl where for two weeks every reporter, analyst, talk show host and bartender said the exact same thing — the 49ers will eat ’em for breakfast — and they were still understated?

This wasn’t football, it was a swearing-in ceremony. And no one dared interrupt, least of all the San Diego Chargers, who, near as we can tell, were sent to play this game because they insulted somebody very important in the NFL front office.

The 49ers — who by the end were playing the third string, the fourth string and the kitchen staff — were quick and lethal, scoring quicker than any team in Super Bowl history, a touchdown in the first 84 seconds, or about the time it took America to realize there was no reason to videotape this game. The 49ers were led by Steve (Joe Who?) Young, who threw so many touchdowns he got one free, and Jerry (God) Rice, who caught three touchdowns and dedicated the night to the guiding force in his career, Breathe Right Nose Patches.

The Chargers? Well, they had one excellent opportunity. Unfortunately, it came during the national anthem, when the NFL exploded 10,000 fireworks in a desperate attempt to snuff out Kathie Lee Gifford’s singing voice. The field was momentarily covered in smoke, and San Diego could have used this chance to escape.

When your best play is a punt roll, why stick around?

Unfortunately, the Chargers chose to stay and play. As ideas go, this was up there with converting all your U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos. There was one play, in the third quarter, in which a San Diego person actually sacked Steve Young, but the referees blew the whistle and declared the play

I am kidding. But not by much. What was the score, 49-26? I know there was an imbalance between the conferences. I didn’t know AFC stood for “Another Freakin’ Catastrophe.”

“We knew we were gonna kick their butts all week,” said the 49ers’ Deion Sanders, who, according to eyewitnesses, nearly broke a sweat in this game.
“We knew it, but we just couldn’t say it. Now we can. We beat the hell out of them.”

Tell us how you really feel.

Hail, Steve. Hail, George.

Hail a cab.

“You talk about this, you talk about it, but when you finally do it, it’s hard to describe how you feel,” gushed Young, who became the first man voted unanimous MVP of the Super Bowl before the first commercial break. “I hope this answers all the questions about me.”

How could it not? True, we’ve been predicting this blowout from the moment San Francisco knocked off the Dallas Cowboys, who would only have beaten the Chargers by 22 points. But still, people wondered about Young in The Big Game. Would he finally be able to bury the ghost of Joe Montana, who had won four of these things in a 49ers uniform?

Well, Young didn’t bury the ghost — he came after it with a hatchet. He was Max von Sydow in “The Exorcist,” Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters” and the lady who chased the monsters away in “Poltergeist” all rolled into one. He had a silver bullet, a wooden cross, garlic around his neck and an Uzi. With 49 yards, he not only was the leading rusher in the Sunday’s game — the leading rusher? — but he completed 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards. And when he threw for his sixth touchdown, thereby eclipsing a Montana record, he raised his arms in exultant triumph, and then we learned something we never knew about one Steve Young:

His father’s name is Grit.

This would explain why he says “Hi, mom.”

Son of a Grit?

“Steve Young is the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, and this proves it,” said Sanders, who actually tried to catch one of Young’s passes. This was in second half, when most of America was tuned to “Beavis and Butt-head.” George Seifert sent Deion in for the one pass play he’d been begging for all year, and Deion raced past the defender, went up in the air —

and the ball was knocked away by a safety.

Incomplete. This, however, will not prevent the play from being released as a new Deion video, coming to stores near you next week.

As for Deion’s future with the 49ers — now that he has achieved his dream of winning a championship in something other than the Bausch & Lomb Sunglasses Competition?

“I have every intention of being back with the 49ers next year. But right now, I’m feeling mellow. I just want to go home and relax with my friends here.”

I looked at some of Deion’s friends, once my eyes got used to the glare, and one of them was wearing — and I’m not kidding here — two giant earrings, three bracelets and a golden calculator around his neck.

I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Anyhow, let’s not stop at Deion. Let’s throw hosannas to the whole 49ers team, including the incomparable Jerry Rice, who had 10 catches and a third Super Bowl ring, and Ricky Watters, who scored three touchdowns, and Seifert, who can stop worrying about that guy named Walsh, and of course the most important person in the 49ers organization, the man who signs the checks, Eddie DeBartolo.

He proved, once again, that intelligence and money will take you past almost every team in the NFL. He spends for the little things — such as individual hotel rooms on the road for his players — and he spends for the big things, such as Ken Norton, Sanders, Rickey Jackson, et al.

“From the very start, he made us feel appreciated here,” Norton said, “and we wanted to return the favor.”

You get what you pay for.

Unless you paid for a ticket. This was a stinker, as most Super Bowls tend to be, however, it did feature live snakes. Once again, I am talking about the halftime show, not the San Diego offense.

What about those Chargers? Well, the best we can say for them is they have nice uniforms. Other than that, they threw three interceptions, allowed six touchdowns and came out with a defense that seemed designed to give its players the best view of 49ers catches — without ever having to, you know, stop anything.

“We played lousy,” Bobby Ross, their coach, admitted.

Well, you have to feel for the Chargers. Never has a team heard so many critics say, “You can’t win, you can’t win” and stared them back in the face and said, “You’re right.”

And so the 49ers win their fifth Super Bowl in the last 14 years, while the Lions are still waiting to get back to a big game. Such is the balance of power. It was President Clinton, calling on his cellular phone, who told DeBartolo, “I haven’t met anyone in America who resents the success the 49ers have had.”

Obviously, he hasn’t visited Dallas lately.

But in a way, he’s right. How can you resent intelligence, grace and talent? You can’t. This was the best team, winning the biggest game, and the Chargers could do little more than watch. Hail, Steve. Hail Jerry. Hail, Deion. Hail a cab. The 49ers made history, made magic and answered every question but one:

How did Kathie Lee get this gig?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!