NFL History: How Super Bowl XLIV Proved There's Still Magic in Miami

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NFL History: How Super Bowl XLIV Proved There's Still Magic in Miami
George Rose/Getty Images

Miami has now hosted an NFL-record 10 Super Bowls. And when NFL historians remember those 10 Big Games in South Florida, they instantly recall two of them before the other eight.

Super Bowl III: Jets over Colts in 1969.

Super Bow XXIII: 49ers over Bengals in 1989.

Those games are remembered for good reason. 

The biggest Super Bowl upset ever is an incredible storyline.

So too is the league’s best quarterback leading the league’s best team down the field for a championship-winning touchdown in the final minute of the game.

It’s true. Those Super Bowls deserve their rightful place in history. But this column isn’t about those Super Bowls. 

It’s about a common storyline that connects each of the last four Super Bowls played in Dolphins Stadium (now known as Sun Life Stadium, but this whole name-changing ordeal is getting ridiculous). 

Miami is where some of the best and longest-suffering quarterbacks in NFL history have had to go to win football’s greatest prize. It’s been that way for exactly 15 years.         

In Super Bowl XXIX (1995), Steve Young finally escaped the darkness of Joe Montana’s shadow. 

In Super Bowl XXXIII (1999), John Elway rode off into the sunset as a two-time defending Super Bowl winner. 

In Super Bowl XLI (2007), Peyton Manning became a world champion, and at long last, totally silenced his critics (OK, for one year at least). 

And speaking of Peyton Manning, well, for most of Super Bowl XLIV, it looked like lightning would strike twice for him in the Florida Gardens.

But suddenly, the football gods intervened.

“We’ve already helped Peyton get a ring,” the gods reasoned.  “It’s Drew’s time now.”

And suddenly, magic happened.

The Colts’ Hank Baskett could have recovered a game-changing onside kick.

Instead, it bounced off his hands and went right to the Saints’ Chris Reis.

A little over an hour later, Peyton Manning had a brain cramp at the worst possible time.

His best receiver Reggie Wayne ran a poor route.

And the Saints Tracy Porter took the pigskin 74 yards for a Super Bowl-sealing touchdown.

Those are the kinds of plays that dreams are made of.

Drew Brees, who set a Super Bowl record with 32 pass completions, is now the most recent in a long line of great quarterbacks to reach the pinnacle of his sport in Miami.

And just like the other three, Brees did it after so many years of coming up painfully short.

But that’s not all. Brees also was named Super Bowl MVP, just as other three quarterbacks were.

Can you believe it?        

So, is it a coincidence that this storyline always seems to play out in South Florida?  Maybe. But it’s happened too often to be a coincidence. And, using history as an indicator, it certainly seems like the football gods wouldn’t have it any other way.

Congratulations, Drew Brees, the whole Saints team, and all of Louisiana. There’s no quarterback, team, or state that deserves this championship more.

But know this: Only in Miami can a Hollywood ending like this actually happen.

Dan Marino might not believe there’s magic inside Dolphins Stadium.

But Steve Young, John Elway, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees know that Miami is a city where dreams come true.

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