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As the New England Patriots are facing the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 NFL Super Bowl, I remember two Super Bowls more vividly than others.
My own personal stories surrounding them are different from other Super Bowls in between and since. They are more than me sitting in front of a TV and doing the routine Super Bowl kind of thing, which I’ve also done for the majority of them in 23 years.
One was the 1992 version. The other was in 1997.
I started playing American Football in 1991 for the Dusseldorf Panthers, in my hometown in Germany. Until early that year I had never even heard of the sport, but got into it quickly. By January the following year, I was interested in the National Football League as well.
The Super Bowl, which was played in Minneapolis at the now gone Metro Dome, was on my list to watch. (Since moving to the United States I have visited the dome several times for baseball and football games before it was demolished in 2014.)
In ’92, I was 13 years old, the game was on at 12:30 a.m. (Germany time) on a Monday morning and it was only on a newer pay-per-view channel that I didn’t have money paying for.
So there were challenges to say the least.
But a friend and I overcame them all and ended up being able to watch it together at his place. It was awesome! The Redskins with quarterback Mark Rypien and their offensive line – The Hogs – left a huge impression on this 13-year-old and led to me still liking the ‘Skins today. Unfortunately, they haven’t done much since.
The pay-per-view station had German announcers but was staying on the American station’s broadcast the entire time. This made for some interesting shots at times. While the American station went to commercials, the German broadcast stayed on the picture. Sometimes, the broadcast directors were zooming in and out really fast or moving back and forth between different cameras quickly. It made for an interesting viewing experience. I’m guessing they didn’t even know. We knew nothing about Super Bowl commercials!
The next day I wasn’t able to make it to school and told my teacher on Tuesday that I missed the day because didn’t feel well.
His response: “I hope you enjoyed the game.”
The 1997 version was also memorable personally, because I was able to take in a lot of the on-site activities in New Orleans.
The game was played at the Superdome in Louisiana and I was in town for much of the week. I was still a German citizen at the time and was selected as the starting Left Tackle for the Team Europe All-Star team that would play Team Mexico a couple of days before the Super Bowl.
First I traveled from Iowa, where I was attending Iowa City West High School, to Frankfurt to meet up with the team for training camp. We then all flew together to New Orleans and stayed with local families for a few days.
The two teams weren’t slated to actually attend the Super Bowl, but the Most Valuable Player was going to get a ticket. As an offensive lineman, I knew that my chances were pretty much non-existent- even if I played the game of my life.
We ended up losing badly, but once the next few days had passed I knew I had made connections for life with my teammates. I’m still in touch with several. Many were from different towns across Europe, and having been in the United States for the last couple of years, I hadn’t played in a game in Germany.
Personal stories are memorable
There have been plenty of great games in between. I have watched all the Super Bowls since moving to the United States from Germany in 1995 and I’m watching the 2015 game. But the ones that are truly personal and unique are the ones that stand out.