Simpler Times: Super Bowl XXXI

Tim SeemanAnalyst IFebruary 2, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII was a great game.  Momentum swung numerous times and either team could have won the game.  It was one play right before halftime that changed the entire complexion of the contest.  The play influenced everything that happened after it.

James Harrison's interception was quickly dubbed the longest play in Super Bowl history.  This got me thinking, as a Packer fan, back to Super Bowl XXXI and Desmond Howard's kickoff return for a touchdown.

Initially, I wanted to see if Harrison's play was truly longer than that kick return.  And it was.  By maybe a foot.  But I quickly got over that in watching the Packers highlights from that game.

Brett Favre was shooting laser beams all over the Superdome.

Antonio Freeman and Andre Rison were running past and through the Patriots secondary.

LeRoy Butler and Reggie White were wreaking havoc on Drew Bledsoe.

If I had been older, I would've been much more appreciative of how great this Packers team was.  They get lost in the shuffle of great NFL teams because they "only" finished the regular season 13-3, not 15-1 or something like that.  

What is often forgotten is the fact that they're the only team in history to lead the NFL in total offense AND total defense AND win the Super Bowl.  Plus, Howard turned in one of the best seasons for a return man in NFL history.  

This team had everything you look for: great quarterback, great linemen, great specialists, great coaching, great front office.

What I really want to talk about, though, isn't really football.  It's about how the game has changed.  Watch this video.  

I wonder how many of those touchdown celebrations would get flagged for "excessive demonstration."  Or how about when Howard gets up yelling at a Patriot after his punt return at the 2:25 mark?  

Would Butler have been called for an illegal tackle on his sack of Bledsoe?  Would Favre's touchdown run have been overturned by instant replay?

This is the football I grew up on, and more and more, the game is changing into something less entertaining.  Super Bowl XXXI had something Super Bowl XLIII didn't, and I'm not talking about the Packers (even though I am STRONGLY biased).  I can't quite put my finger on it, and I wish I could.