If you live somewhere in North America (and it’s not under a rock), then you probably know that the Super Bowl is this weekend. And I don’t know about you, but I love the Super Bowl. Of course, part of the reason for this is that, for the last decade or so, we’ve been treated to really exciting games. But there’s so much more to it than the game. There’s the halftime show. There are the commercials. There is the media frenzy. There are the parties. There is the food.
All these things come together to form what is, in my opinion, the greatest secular American holiday (after the 4th of July). So if someone says, “hey, you want to go to a movie next Sunda?” and that Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, I’m like, “uh, no.” Or if my cousin sends an email inviting me to the baptism of her kid and it’s Super Bowl Sunday I’m like, “What, are you serious? Absolutely not.”
So today, in order to explain my love of the Super Bowl to anyone who might not understand, I’ve put together this list. It’s 29 animated Super Bowl GIFs that explain what makes the big game (and all that surrounds it) so awesome.
First and foremost, the Super Bowl is awesome because incredible plays like this (Lynn Swann's catch in Super Bowl X) become immortalized.
Want more examples? Fine, how about...
29. The Swann Catch
You know how bad Elway wanted to win the Super Bowl? Enough to do this. And that is awesome.
28. The Elway Helicopter
Sometimes you get to see an interception returned 100 yards for a touchdown, like James Harrison did in Super Bowl XLIII.
27. The Interception Return
And sometimes a guy starts showboating during a blowout and then gets what's coming to him. That's what happened to Leon Lett in Super Bowl XXVII. He recovered a fumble, ran it back, started dancing before he got the end zone, and had the ball stripped away at the last second by Buffalo's Don Beebe.
It was beautiful.
26. Leon Lett FAIL
And then there are the halftime shows. So many have been bland and boring. But every once in a while a guy like Prince comes along, and he creates a silhouette of himself playing the guitar against a giant flapping sheet that looks an awful lot like he is...well, you can see for yourself. (If you don't see it because you're all innocent and pure of heart, I'm not going to be the one to tell you.)
25. Prince's Guitar Wang
Then there are halftime shows featuring Bruce Springsteen, and he commands America to put the chicken fingers down and get ready to rock.
24. The Boss's Instructions
Then the Boss does something awesome, like this amazing crotch-first slide into the TV camera.
23. The Boss's Slide
And sometimes halftime moments like this...
22. Weird Cupid
...Become GIFs like this. Wow.
21. More Weird Cupid
Or sometimes MIA gives America the finger...
...while Madonna bows down before Cee Lo Green in a giant glittering moo moo.
19. Cee Lo Green
And every once in a while, you just might see a halftime performance that adds a new phrase to the English lexicon—e.g., "wardrobe malfunction."
18. The Malfunction
While most of the time the bizarre stuff happens during the halftime show, sometimes the stuff on the field is surreal, too. For example, last year Ahmad Bradshaw scored a reluctant butt-first touchdown—a Super Bowl first.
17. The Buttdown
Also a bit surreal was this heated moment from Super Bowl X. The Cowboys' Cliff Harris decided to taunt the Steelers kicker after he missed a field goal. That prompted NFL legend Jack Lambert to step in and toss Harris around like a rag doll. Then the Steelers came back and won the game thanks to a 14-point 4th quarter comeback.
16. The Throwdown
Of course, nothing that happens on the field could ever be as surreal as what the Bears did just prior to their Super Bowl XX in 1986. I mean, the whole team performed a rap video called "The Super Bowl Shuffle."
15. The Super Bowl Shuffle
Another great thing about the Super Bowl? Celebrity sitings! This one here is one of my favorites—Cameron Diaz feeding A-Rod popcorn...like he's a puppy dog or something. And from the look on her face, she seems annoyed, like he's the one who insists she feed him popcorn.
14. Feeding the Animals
And let's not forget about the amazing commercials. (Kids, just go to Wikipedia and search for "Bud Bowl.")
13. Bud Bowl
I love how the Super Bowl makes grown men cry.
And I also love how the Super Bowl makes attractive women strip down into a bikini in Times Square in February because she lost a bet. But even this can't top the legendary game-winning plays...
11. Maria Menounos Lost the Bet
You just never know when a Super Bowl might come down to a huge play like this—Santonio Holmes' catch in Super Bowl XLIII.
10. Santonio's Catch
And sometimes a Super Bowl comes down to a play like this—Mike Jones's tackle of Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line that won the game for the Rams.
9. The Tackle
Then there are times when the Super Bowl comes down to heartbreaking plays like this—when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal wide right in 1991, costing the Buffalo Bills a Super Bowl and handing one to the New York Giants.
8. Norwood Wide Right
But the best types of Super Bowl plays are the ones you simply cannot believe. And here I'm talking about "The Helmet Catch" from Super Bowl XLII.
It all started with an incredible scramble by Eli Manning that looked like a sure sack...
7. The Helmet Catch, Part 1
...But somehow Manning evaded the rushers and fired a throw downfield, and that throw was caught by David Tyree.
6. The Helmet Catch, Part 2
But wait just one damn minute. How did Tyree catch that ball???
5. The Helmet Catch, Part 3
Oh right. He caught the ball ON HIS HELMET. If this isn't the most incredible play in Super Bowl history, I don't know what is.
Now, I know what you're saying: come on, man, we can't reasonably expect to see a play like this every year. This is a once-a-decade sort of play. And you're right. But even if the game itself turns out to be boring, there are always the commercials...
4. The Helmet Catch, Part 4
Did you know that they often hire sexy supermodels to appear in Super Bowl commercials?
Well, they do.
3. Lima + Kia
And sometimes these commercials have two sexy models...wrestling...in a fountain.
Is that sexist and offensive? You bet. But it's still not quite as intense as...
2. The Catfight
Kate Upton getting intimate with a Carls Jr./Hardees burger? Sure, why not. It's the Super Bowl!
1. Kate Gets Down with a Burger
Gifs, halftime show, super bowl, Super Bowl XLVII,