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13 Sensational Super Bowl Scandals

by: Esteban On  Thursday, February 9, 2012

super bowl scandals

The thing I like best about the Super Bowl is that it’s not just a sporting event. It’s a pop culture phenomenon, and all the stuff surrounding the actual game—whether it’s the halftime show, or the commercials, or the performance of the National Anthem—has a life of it’s own.

Who was that hot girl seen with the backup kicker? Some intrepid reporter will find out. Will the washed up singer starring in the halftime show make a fool of herself? Tune in at six to find out what the experts think. Which commercial will be the big winner this year? Hear from a panel of experts.

So yeah, when it comes to the Super Bowl, just about any little thing can be made into a big deal. Then again, not everything surrounding the Super Bowl is pure hype. Sometimes there really are legitimate scandals leading up to or during the big game. And since Super Bowl XLVI is going down this Sunday, I thought I’d provide you with a rundown of 13 biggest scandals in the history of the event.

So check ‘em out.

13. Henderson vs. Bradshaw

terry bradshaw super bowl xiii

Although we’re used to hearing Terry Bradshaw being called a moron (they do it every week on Fox NFL Sunday), when Bradshaw was actually playing he was considerably less jovial than he is now. So when Dallas linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson told reporters before Super Bowl XIII that Terry “couldn’t spell CAT if you spotted him the C and the T,” well, that didn’t go over so well in the other locker room.

Of course, Bradshaw didn’t need to have an advanced degree to tear apart the Cowboys’ defense, and he went on to win Super Bowl MVP with 318 yards passing and 4 touchdowns in a 35-31 Steelers victory.

Years later, Henderson admitted that, um, yeah, he was sorta high on cocaine when he said that. Oops.

12. Tank Johnson: gun hoarder

tank johnson answers questions at super bowl

On December 14, 2006, about 6 weeks before Super Bowl XLI, police raided the home of the Chicago Bears’ Terry “Tank” Johnson and discovered that the guy was preparing for a zombie apocalypse. The dude had 6 unregistered guns in his house including 2 assault rifles (which you really need because everyone knows it takes 7 or 8 direct shots to the head to kill a zombie).

After the Bears won the NFC title game, Johnson went before a circuit court judge and beg to let him leave the state of Illinois to he could play in the Super Bowl in Miami. The judge agreed, and the league (which apparently doesn’t consider firearm hoarding a problem unless there are at least 4 or 5 unregistered assault rifles) agreed to let him play as well. (Not that it really mattered—the Bears were killed by the Colts, 29-17.)

11. Favre parties on Bourbon Street

Brett Favre super bowl

The 1996 season was an interesting one for Brett Favre. On the one hand, he dominated the league and was named NFL MVP. On the other hand, he came public with his addictions to painkillers and booze. So, you know—ups and downs. Still, everyone thought Brett had straightened things out a bit by the end of the season.

So people were shocked when he was spotted partying on Bourbon Street in New Orleans the week before Super Bowl XXXI. And even more shocked when they saw Brett dry-heaving on the field just before kickoff.

Of course, according to the team, Brett just had the flu. Right.

Still, I wish my hangovers involved me winning the Super Bowl 35-21.

10. The Ray Lewis Debate

ray lewis trial

Ray Lewis was arrested in connection with the stabbing deaths of two men outside a nightclub after a Super Bowl party on January 31, 2000. Fortunately for him, the murder charges were eventually dropped in exchange for Lewis testifying against his associates and pleading guilty to the charge of obstruction of justice.

The next year, when Lewis’ Ravens made it to Super Bowl XXXV, there was all this moral outrage that, instead of being in jail, Lewis was actually going to get to play for a ring—which of course he got, along with Super Bowl MVP.

9. Barret Robbins’ Tijuana bender

barret robbins

The week before Super Bowl XXXVII (2003) in sunny San Diego, the Oakland Raiders’ Barret Robbins, who suffers from bi-polar disorder and depression, stopped taking his meds.

Yeah, uh oh.

The guy went on a bender in Tijuana and missed meetings and the team’s final walk-through before the big game. When he did return, he was too messed up to play, so coach Bill Callahan had to send him home. Bummer.

8. Jim McMahon Moons Reporters

jim mcmahon super bowl

At Super Bowl XX in 1986, Bears QB Jim McMahon—known as quite the hell-raiser—managed to live up to his reputation…by mooning reporters.

Yes, apparently he didn’t like that news helicopters were hovering above the Bears’ practice field to see if he was fully healed from a strained glute*. So he bent over and showed them his bare ass so they could have a look for themselves.

(FYI, McMahon’s butt was fine, and the Bears pounded the Pats 46-10.)

*He probably sustained the injury doing the Super Bowl Shuffle

7. Good Guy Eugene Robinson busted with hooker

eugene robinson getting burned super bowl

The day before Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999, Atlanta Falcons defensive end was presented with the Bart Starr Award for being a man of “high moral character.”

Obviously, he was arrested later that night trying to pick up a hooker who turned out to be a cop.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next day he played like garbage and his team lost to the Broncos 34-19.

6. Prince’s Shadow Phallus

prince super bowl halftime penis shadow

During the halftime show of Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007, the one and only Prince gave the world quite an image. Specifically, he gave the world the silhouette of himself created by a spotlight on a giant curtain…with his guitar looking very much like a long, cartoonish penis. And no, it wasn’t just a split second either. He did a whole guitar solo with his silhouette projected on the curtain, and it pretty much looks like he’s jerking off.

Awesome, right? Here, see for yourself by skipping ahead to 1:16.

5. Stanley Wilson ODs on Coke

stanley wilson super bowl bengals overdose

Super Bowl XXIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, with the poor Cincinnati Bengals getting another shot at might Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. It was a pretty big deal, because, really, how many shots to you get at taking down a football legend?

Unfortunately, Stanley Wilson, the Bengals blocking RB, was a little too amped for the occasion, because the night before the Super Bowl the dude overdosed on cocaine.

Since it was his third violation of the league’s drug policy, the Bengals had to cut Wilson from the team immediately, and the Begals went on to suffer a crushing 20-16 defeat. Not that a guy who just ODed on coke would have done them much good anyway.

4. Max McGee Hungover for Super Bowl I

Max McGee green bay hungover super bowl

The very first Super Bowl saw the very first Super Bowl controversy.

Max McGee, the Packers backup wide receiver, didn’t think he had any chance of playing in the championship game. So the night before, he snuck out of the team hotel and spent the night boozing it up all over Los Angeles.

The next day Vince Lombardi decided he would teach the extremely hungover McGee a lesson by putting his sorry ass in the game. Then all the dope did was catch 7 passes for 137 yards and 2 TDs as Green Bay was Super Bowl I 35-10.

Lesson learned?

3. Porno Bowl

santonio holmes catch super bowl

While most of the world will remember Super Bowl XLIII as one of the most exciting ever played, some Arizona Comcast customers will always remember it as the one where about 30 seconds of hardcore adult entertainment ran during the game’s telecast.

According to Comcast, the porn that aired at one point during the game was “an isolated, malicious act.” Still, they gave customers a $10 credit for the inconvenience. So that’s nice.

2. The Wardrobe Malfunction


You knew it had to make the list, and here it is at #2: the incident that made “wardrobe malfunction” a thing.

If you live under a rock, here’s what happened: Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake teamed up to do the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Pats and Panthers. At the end of their number, JT reached over and ripped off a part of Janet’s outfit, revealing her right boob and a rather ornate nipple shield.

The nation was outraged. Outraged!!! Kind of part of a boob!!! For a split second!!! On television!!!

Anyway, after the game, the director of the halftime show tried to convince the world that this was some kind of terrible accident, and that they had no intention of exposing Janet’s breast. In making this ludicrous claim, the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” came into existence. And it’s been around ever since.

1. Spygate

Belichick spygate super bowl

Well this is timely, isn’t it? A Super Bowl scandal involving Bill Belichick, who just so happend to be coaching his New England Patriots in the big game this weekend.

Funny how thing work out.

In 2007, the hoodie-wearing Pats coach got in big trouble when it was discovered he’s kind of a dirty rotten cheater who would video tape other coaches’ signals during games. Obviously, if you know a coaches signals you know what they plan to do, which gives you a distinct advantage.

Belichick was fine half a million bucks, he apologized, and everyone thought the scandal was finished.

Then a former Patriots video assistant named Matt Walsh came forward a day before Super Bowl XLII (between the Pats and Giants) and said Belichick and company also video taped the St. Louis Rams walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI. As you might recall, that was the one in which the underdog Patriots stunned the football world by beating the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

While Walsh later denied that they actually video taped the Rams’ walk-through in 2001, pretty much the only people who believe that live within an hour’s drive of Boston. I mean, come on. “No no no, we did cheat in all those other games. But we didn’t cheat in the one that mattered most. Honest.”