The sense of excitement and expectation ahead of the Super Bowl is arguably like no other. The whole season reaches its dramatic grand finale, hundreds of millions are watching from every corner of the globe, eyes glued to their screens. This is the game to decide which team will become the NFL champions, lifting the iconic Vince Lombardi Trophy.
As we ponder which Super Bowl betting line look the most appealing, hopeful of making some winning picks, it’s always worth remembering that in professional American football, quite literally anything can happen. After all, that’s what makes the biggest game of the NFL season all the more exciting, right?
Well, given that anything can and probably will happen, that sometimes includes many bizarre and weird moments. While there is certainly no shortage of those floating around the internet, here are three of the strangest and most curious Super Bowl stories you’re likely to read.
Hey, isn’t that John Candy?
Super Bowl XXIII was filled with tension at the Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida. The atmosphere was electric, and the teams were evenly matched throughout the whole game. However, with just a few minutes left to play, the Cincinnati Bengals were ahead of the San Francisco 49ers.
Nevertheless, if you’re the most famous American football player in the world at that time, there’s always time for a little celebrity spotting. That’s precisely what 49ers quarterback Joe Montana did, right in the midst of a TV timeout, creating one of the most bizarre moments of Super Bowl broadcasting we’ve ever seen.
“Hey, isn’t that John Candy?” said Montana, pointing towards the touchline. The comment came out of nowhere, plus it was hardly the kind of thing anyone expected him to say, especially with the 49ers trailing at such a key point in the fourth quarter. But like any good story, there’s always a reason why something strange happened.
Apparently, in the week before the big game, Montana’s teammate Harris Barton had been listing all the celebrities he’d seen around Miami, as they gathered for the Super Bowl. Actor and comedian John Candy hadn’t been mentioned by Barton, therefore, when Montana spotted the larger than life comedian and actor, he just had to say something.
As for the game itself, well, Super Bowl XXIII will always be remembered for that fourth quarter winning drive, with the 49ers 16-13 down. After gaining 92 yards in less than three minutes, Montana made the crucial pass for the John Taylor touchdown. Within moments of spotting John Candy, that man Montana had just inspired a Super Bowl victory.
Whatever happened to Timmy Smith?
Players being thrust from obscurity to stardom in an instant, that can sometimes happen in Super Bowl games. Then there are players who burst through the sky like a comet, shine brightly on the biggest stage in American sports, then fizzle out before hitting the ground with a thud. Washington Redskins running back Timmy Smith was one of those players.
After being drafted from Texas Tech, Smith played just seven games for the Redskins without starting any of them in 1987. Nevertheless, by some twist of fate, Smith was handed his first NFL start in the biggest game of them all at Super Bowl XXII. Despite believing this was a joke by teammates before the game, out on the field, he didn’t let anyone down.
The game was a blowout victory for the Redskins, who demolished the Denver Broncos 42-10 on the day. Smith played the starring role, setting a Super Bowl rushing record that still stands, gained 204 yards, and scored two touchdowns. To this day, many believe he should have been the game MVP, although that accolade went to Washington quarterback Doug Williams.
Smith could have made the most of that opportunity to launch a stellar career, yet it all went downhill from there. Overweight and in poor form he was allowed to leave, joining the San Diego Chargers in 1989, before departing under a cloud later that year. After a short spell with the Dallas Cowboys in 1990 Smith was cut from the team.
In his last attempt to resurrect an ailing career, Smith joined the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League in 1994, only to be released before the season started. After pleading guilty to drug-related charges in 2006, Smith served two years in federal prison. Now in his late fifties, Smith is content to live a quiet family life, working as an energy salesman.
The curious case of Tom Brady’s jersey
Tom Brady has been involved in some of the greatest moments in Super Bowl history, largely thanks to his longevity as a player and exceptional quarterback ability. That said, he probably didn’t imagine being involved as an unwilling participant, when one of the strangest moments followed Super Bowl LI.
Held at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Luke Bryan had sung the national anthem, former US President George H. W. Bush had flipped the coin, and Lady Gaga headlined the halftime show. On the field, the New England Patriots won and enthralling duel against the Atlanta Falcons, with MVP Tom Brady playing starring role in the 34-28 triumph for his team.
Things began getting strange when after the game, Brady couldn’t find his jersey. He’d put it down somewhere for a moment and when he returned, it was gone. Such a prized piece of Super Bowl memorabilia is always cherished by players, which led to the police and even the FBI getting on the case, suspecting this was a case of theft.
After a couple of months, the truth and the thief of Tom Brady’s jersey emerged. A teenage collector had spotted the jersey online, in the possession of Mexican journalist Martin Mauricio Ortega. There was now a potential suspect and after checking video footage, the journalist was observed, caught red-handed as he discreetly pocketed the famous jersey.
In the end, Brady agreed not to press any charges against Ortega, so long as his prized jersey was returned. The iconic player kept his promise, although the curious case of the missing jersey is one that will be talked about for years to come. Crime certainly doesn’t pay, although with a happy conclusion, it certainly made for one of the strangest Super Bowl stories