The Big Game has been the scene of some low blows

The Baltimore Sun

Retrospectives make for great entertainment. Every week, in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, we're treated to a smorgasbord of shows that want to remind us of the "Greatest Super Bowl Moments." Lynn Swann and John Stallworth leaping like ballerinas to catch Terry Bradshaw's bombs. Joe Montana zipping it to John Taylor in the back of the end zone with less than a minute left. Adam Vinatieri splitting the uprights (twice!) to give the Patriots the Lombardi Trophy. But rarely do we take the time to remember the embarrassments, the miserable failures on the big stage. With that in mind, we present 10 Super Bowl moments the NFL would like to forget:

1. Janet Jackson's Wardrobe Malfunction -- Embarrassing doesn't quite do it justice. The reason Justin Timberlake had to bring sexy back is he almost helped kill off sexy with this cartoonish attempt to seem hip. Jackson's excuse, that it was an accident, makes sense only if you believe she wakes up every day and attaches an uncomfortable, silver, sunburst-shaped nipple accessory to her right breast. (We could see Michael doing this, but Janet?) It probably also helped George W. Bush get re-elected; look at that however you like.

2. Eugene Robinson tries to take the edge off -- When making a mental checklist of things to do the night before the biggest game of the season, it's probably best not to include "Soliciting undercover cops for $40 worth of oral sex," as Robinson did. Those who have profited financially off recasting John Elway's legacy should send Robinson an annual thank-you note.

3. A Bloody Night in Atlanta -- No amounts of spin or rationalization can change the fact that Ray Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers ever to play the game, was leaving a Buckhead nightclub after the 2000 Super Bowl when a fight broke out that resulted in the stabbing deaths of two people. No matter how you feel about all the questions of guilt and innocence that arose in the months that followed, it was not a proud moment for Baltimore or the NFL.

4. Barret Robbins goes AWOL -- Robbins, the Raiders' Pro Bowl center, clearly needed help before the Super Bowl in 2003 - he spent the week drinking and crying in Tijuana, Mexico, and various San Diego bars instead of attending the Saturday walk-through and team meetings - but all anyone (including his teammates) wanted to know is whether he would be ready to play. When someone's mental illness is pointed to as a distraction during Super Bowl week, it might be time to ask whether you've lost all perspective on life.

5. The repercussions of Donovan McNabb's comeback attempt -- McNabb doesn't have to apologize for throwing up while trying to rally his team against the Patriots (after all, when you compete, sometimes you lose it; it's just a fact) but an unfortunate side effect was the birth of the unofficial Terrell Owens Has Something To Say show, which led to ESPN covering him for the next 18 months as if he were the Pope.

6. Leon Lett turns Don Beebe into a folk hero -- When Beebe stripped Lett at the goal line on a fumble return, it was supposed to be one of those "teaching moments" during which everyone learned that showboating was wrong. Sadly, there's more showboating now by more subpar athletes than ever before. And somewhere, you just know there is a degenerate gambler with a wrinkled betting ticket who blames Beebe's hustle and Lett's laziness for his divorce.

7. New Kids On The Block "perform" at halftime of 1991 Super Bowl -- Even CBS seemed to realize what a ridiculous choice this was, cutting away for additional coverage of the Gulf War during the performance. Chew on this for a second: NKOTB, 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys have all performed. Gloria Estefan has done it twice. Bruce Springsteen never has. That pretty much sums up what a disgrace Super Bowl halftime shows are.

8. "Hollywood" Henderson chugs something other than Gatorade -- Cocaine was such a regular part of Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson's life that in 1979, when the Cowboys were playing in the Super Bowl, the linebacker sniffed it from a liquid inhaler while on the sideline.

9. The Lingerie Bowl -- Whatever frat house executive dreamed up this idea clearly didn't think it all the way through. And who thinks beautiful women committing acts of controlled violence against one another is in any way sexy? Pillow fights, sure. That's sexy. But the thought of Carmen Electra tearing an ACL or Jenny McCarthy rupturing her implants on a late hit is the anti-sexy.

10. Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner -- Proving that nothing in this country is sacred as long as you can make a buck off it, Dirt Devil aired a Super Bowl commercial in 1997 (with the blessing of Astaire's widow, Robyn) in which Astaire was pictured dancing with a vacuum cleaner in place of Ginger Rogers. Brace yourselves, kids, for the Super Bowl ad in which Courtney Love allows Kurt Cobain's image to appear in an ad for Microsoft or Starbucks.

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