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12 Super Bowl Controversies We're Still Talking About Years Later

Billboard / ABC News

This year, Justin Timberlake made a triumphant return to America's biggest stage with a Super Bowl performance that was (almost) scandal-free.

But of course, we remember that the last time the singer appeared at the Super Bowl things didn't go so smoothly. Let's revisit the classic wardrobe malfunction, and 11 other times controversy struck the big game.

1. M.I.A. flips off fans


Appearing alongside Madonna at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, rapper M.I.A. stunned America when she flipped the camera the bird. NFL and NBC both apologized for the mishap, which drew more than 200 complaints.

The football league later tried to sue M.I.A. over the controversy, but settled with the rapper out of court.

2. The double kickoff

CBS Sports

Super Bowl I, take two. Yes, the very first Super Bowl featured a blooper that makes us shake our heads to this day. NBC was still on commercial when Green Bay kicked off the game's second half. The network made the players start the third quarter over again for the TV audience.

3. Max McGee's big game

Sports Illustrated

Another unbelievable but true story from Super Bowl I: Green Bay's backup receiver, Max McGee, spent the night before the game at the bar. "I hope you don't get hurt. I'm not in very good shape," he told starting receiver Boyd Dowler before the game.

Of course, Dowler was injured in the second play, and a severely hungover McGee had to play in his place. Thankfully this Super Bowl "fail" had a happy ending: he had seven receptions and scored two touchdowns to help Green bay win the game.

4. Don't move that helmet

Rogers Photo Archive

Buffalo Bills player Thurman Thomas had a unique game day ritual: he left his helmet sitting on the 34-yard line before each game, a reference to his player number, 34.

Unfortunately, nobody told the running back where they moved his helmet during Harry Connick Jr.'s national anthem performance. Thomas missed the first two plays of the 1993 Super Bowl before he found the headgear.

5. Left Shark


Super Bowl viewers had a field day on social media during Katy Perry's halftime show in 2016, when they noticed one of her backup dancers was moving to the beat of his own drum.

The infamous "left shark" and his funky dance moves made headlines the next day. But in a new interview, the man inside the costume, Bryan Gaw, says everything went according to plan.

"I'm in a 7-foot shark costume. There's no cool in that. So what's the other option? Well, I'm gonna play a different character," Gaw said about his 15 minutes of fame.

6. Elvis Presto

NFL Films

Need proof that the Super Bowl halftime show has evolved over the decades? Just remember when we had to settle for Elvis Presto, the painfully bad stage magician who tried to wow audiences with "the world's largest card trick."

To pull off the stunt, millions of pairs of 3-D glasses were handed out across America, but even they couldn't bring any magic to this terrible show.

7. "Nipplegate"


To this day we're still not sure if the infamous, original "wardrobe malfunction" that made headlines in 2004 was planned by MTV, Janet Jackson, or just happened by accident. What we do know is that for 9/16 of a second, more than 143 million people watching at home saw way more than they were expecting.

For the record, Janet Jackson isn't banned from future Super Bowl appearances, but MTV (who designed the show) still are.

8. Aguilera's anthem flub

You can't deny that Christina Aguilera is an incredibly talented singer, but maybe the pressure was getting to her before Super Bowl XLV. The singer famously swapped the lyric "O'er the ramparts we watched/ were so gallantly streaming" with her own creation, "What so proudly we watched/ at the twilight's last reaming."

The singer apologized for the mistake, saying, “I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.”

9. The Blackout Bowl


Some fans started saying there was a conspiracy at hand when the New Orleans Superdome lost power in 2013, delaying the game for 34 minutes. It turned out to be a routine electrical malfunction, and authorities say no one in the stadium panicked because they were too busy sharing the mishap on social media.

10. Go Daddy's banned ad

Racy Super Bowl ads are nothing new, but website domain company Go Daddy crossed a line with this 2005 ad starring model and pro wrestler Candice Michelle.

Warning: this ad is not safe for the Super Bowl, or your workplace.

We'll give you three guesses why the commercial which featured a wardrobe malfunction senate hearing rubbed the NFL the wrong way.

11. New Kids on the Block let their fans down

Sports Illustrated

They were at the height of their popularity in 1991, but fans of the boy band were disappointed by the group's performance at Super Bowl XXV. Appearing alongside a children's chorus, the band sang a cheery, family friendly tune instead of their hits.

Plus, this halftime show was more like a post-game show, since it was bumped in favor of Gulf War news coverage.

12. Eugene Robinson's "high moral character"

Total Pro Sports

The morning before Super Bowl XXXIII, Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Eugene Robinson was given the Bart Starr award for his philanthropic work and "high moral character."

The night before the game, Robinson was arrested for trying to solicit a plain clothes cop posing as a prostitute. Oops. Robinson was forced to hand back his award, and to add insult to injury, the Falcons lost the game.

Did you remember these famous Super Bowl fails?

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