XXII

This post was originally drafted on January 26 2020 with the intention to post around Super Bowl time. I can’t recall what happened to keep it in near-oblivion.


On January 31, 1988, the NFL’s Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII (number 22, to those Roman-numerically challenged.)

Now this was the first time I’d watched American Football, let alone a Super Bowl. I think it’s important to know that it was a period during which I watched as many diverse sports as I could, perhaps to be the first in my immediate family to find and then ‘belong’ to a club? Who knows.

Puzzled throughout the whole of the game I nevertheless found something that resonated with my mood at the time. I must have been distracted by something though, I honestly thought that an ‘Elway’ was a type of play, much as an ‘up and under’ kick in rugby was referred to as a ‘Garryowen’. Anyway, silly as it sounds now, I ‘found’ a sport I could get behind.

I bought books, watched as much as I could on the UK’s TV during the following season, and picked a team to follow at the end of Super Bowl XXIII: The San Francisco 49ers.

It was an easy choice to make, their Super Bowl XXIII 20-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and their 55-10 demolition of the Denver Broncos a year later, we’ll, it’s easy to climb on the bandwagon isn’t it.

The ‘Threepeat’ attempt the year after that and, like any fair weather fan I decided to pick a new team, The 1-15 Dallas Cowbows (much like my Cleveland Browns) seemed a perfect fit, for how could they get any worse during the rebuilding process with a new owner, head coach, rookie quarterback…?

Incidentally, I didn’t just choose the Browns after their 1-15 season following their 0-16 season, look elsewhere here for that ‘why’.

I’ve wondered why it took me until 2016 to even consider AFC teams worthy of my time, but it recently figured it out; it’s the AFC vs NFC thing.

The NFC’s 49ers won XIX in 1984. AFC teams failed in every subsequent Super Bowl right up to the Denver Broncos’s long-awaited triumph in XXXII that’s 1998, that’s 13 successive NFC wins.

Ok, the AFC vs NFC thing?

It’s the American Football Conference vs the National Football Conference.

First, a hundred years ago this season, came the NFL, the National Football League. Ok, it was predated by college and amateur leagues but professional sports are always the biggest draw right? Well no, college football is BIGGER than the NFL!

Eventually a rival league big enough to challenge the NFL, the AAFC – the All-America Football Conference – was formed, and with it my Cleveland Browns. But the new league really couldn’t thrive in the shadow of the bigger one and eventually was absorbed by it.

For most of the AAFC’s life and for some time after the 1949 merger the Browns were THE dominant team… But that’s now 70 years ago, and there aren’t many who’d say that about the Browns now.

I don’t care; we’ve a new coach, a new staff is being assembled, and we’ve got the players to make something interesting happen. So what if my 2021 Super Bowl prediction might be a year delayed!

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