A close friend of mine bought me The Super Bowl: An Official Retrospective. What a very nice gift it was.
The Super Bowl: An Official Retrospective is an outstanding look back at the National Football League’s (NFL) championship game, commonly known as the Super Bowl. The book is organized into seven chapters that contain short anecdotes, quotes, and memories from Super Bowls past, along with a narrative that ties it all together.
The book covers Super Bowls 1-39 and does an outstanding job of evoking nostalgia and bringing to life just how important this game is to the players and coaches who were part of it.
The Super Bowl: An Official Retrospective is an oversized book that is dominated by fantastic photography, and creative use of quotes, box stories, photos, and essays that run throughout the narrative of each chapter. In some ways the use of various imagery is effective in drawing out and highlighting the importance of each short Super Bowl remembrance it represents.
The drawback is the narrative becomes hard to follow at times, as this technique breaks up the flow of the story each chapter it is trying to tell. At the end, however, this is a minor quibble as the book as a whole is excellent.
Each chapter, except the last one, also includes essays from six quarterbacks named MVP of the Super Bowl, which are very nicely done and again, bringing to light just how BIG a game the Super Bowl really is.
And the best part of all, the book comes with a bonus DVD that is just outstandingly edited and lets the players and coaches tell, in their own words, their remembrances of the Super Bowl and what it means to them.
The DVD really is quite well done, much better than most poorly edited NFL Films productions I own. It will evoke emotions if you are a professional football fan.
Normally I don’t do a chapter by chapter analysis of books, but this one merits a note about each chapter.
I. Raising the Curtain
As the name implies, this chapter focuses on the origins of the Super Bowl and how it has evolved over time. Fittingly, it includes an essay by Bart Starr, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers and Most Valuable Player (MVP) of Super Bowls I and II. This chapter lays the groundwork for the rest of the book.
II. Guiding Lights
Guiding lights focuses on the coaches, winners and losers, who have made an impact on the Super Bowl. It talks about the kind of coach it takes to win a Super Bowl and some of the things coaches do that often undermine their teams chances in the big game.
Even though I was a tiny baby in 1966 and 1967, the quotes by and about Vince Lombardi sent chills down my spine thinking about the origins of this game and the leadership of this coach whose name is immortally etched on the trophy given to the Super Bowl winner—the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
This chapter features and essay by Phil Simms talking about the leadership of Bill Parcels in the New York Giant’s two Super Bowl victories.
III. Dominance by Decade
This is my favorite chapter, mainly because I am a New England Patriots fan and this retrospective reminds me that my team is the team of the 㤈s. This chapter features the five dynasties ( loosely defined) of the decades in which the Super Bowl has been played.
Let’s name them to give each team its due:
Green Bay Packers of the 1960s
Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s
San Francisco 49’ers of the 1980s
Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s
New England Patriots of the 2000s
There are excellent fact boxes, quotes, and stories about the players on these teams, culminating with an essay by Terry Bradshaw, winner of four Super Bowls in six seasons, and two time MVP, in which he talks about the joy and pride he takes in having played on what he considers the best team ever.
IV. Grace Under Pressure
This chapter focuses not on quarterbacks and the poise and calm it takes to play your best football under the intense pressure of the Super Bowl. I thought it would be after reading the title and starting off with Joe Montana, who won three Super Bowls and was MVP twice.
This chapter focuses on key big plays that turned a Super Bowl around for the winning team. Some of the plays are heroic efforts, but most are just simply big plays that players expect to make in given situations.
The theme is it’s not the heroic athletic plays that win championships, but the prepared players who make the plays they are supposed to make, and execute plays like they are supposed to be executed, under intense pressure, that make the difference in the game.
That’s not to say there haven’t been some heroic plays that turn the tide of the game, as there have been. But it’s preparation and proper execution that count most.
Fittingly, this chapter features an essay by Tom Brady, (three Super Bowl wins, two MVPs), who in his performances in three Super Bowls, is the epitome of grace under pressure.
V. Unsung and Under the Radar
This chapter is about the players who are unsung heroes in Super Bowls, or who were Super Bowl heroes that came out of nowhere, and in one case, came out of nowhere and disappeared. This chapter gives these unsung heroes their due.
It features an essay by Doug Williams, MVP of Super Bowl XXII and was unsung hero himself before this accomplishment.
VI. Greatest Show on Earth
To this reader, this is the most frivolous chapter as it details the pre-game and half time entertainment in Super Bowl history. The theme is what a big spectacle the Super Bowl has become.
This chapter features an essay by Roger Staubach talking about just that—what a big spectacle the Super Bowl has become. I found this particular essay a bit odd in its focus on the “bigness” of the Super Bowl today, but it fit with the chapter.
VII. For the Record
This chapter provides a list of Super Bowl results, MVPs, and other Super Bowl statistics.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for football fans—it’s sure to bring back memories and does an excellent job of evoking what the Super Bowl really means.