Memory Lane: Best Big Game Party Ever

As the years go by, quicker than any of us care to acknowledge, the date of January 28th, 1996 is etched deeper and deeper into our memory lanes. On it's own, the date itself may not be recalled easily, but the happenings surely can be. That was the last occasion our beloved Dallas Cowboys emerged victorious in the game of all games, the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXX was a hard fought, albeit not very aesthetic contest held in Sun Devils Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Politically and socially, the location was a major deal as Arizona had been stripped of their chance to host Super Bowl XXVII due to the state's refusal to adopt the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  The Cowboys faced off against their ultimate Big Game rival, the despised Pittsburgh Steelers, in a quest to win a third championship in a four-year window. I recall this game with a fair amount of detail. Not only because it was the last time we ended the season on top of the world, but also because the Super Bowl party we threw is one of my lasting memories of time spent at Hampton University.

 

Due to the low rental costs in Southeastern Virginia and the expensive nature of Hampton U., off campus housing went for close to the same rates as the dormitories back then. Therefore, even as sophomores, a lot of students had their own apartments. Although some like me would rather live away from the commotion and moved a bit further away, the prime destination for most students were the Hampton Harbor Apartments. The Harbors, as we called it, were located right outside the gates of the university. Jaime, one of my freshman homies (4th Floor Harkness Hall Westside represent!) from New York had an apartment with two other students, and their apartment was our favorite hang out spot. In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, we decided that instead of attending one of the many organized functions available to us, it would be better served if we hosted our own gathering. After piling into my regal Toyota Corolla and making one of our infamous grocery store expeditions (we knew someone that knew someone and ate very well for a few weeks), we were set up with everything that was needed. Mountains of snacks, finger foods for some of our female friends to prepare, and lots of drinks such as Coke to mix with other liquids that college kids are known to consume. Sneaky, one of Jaime's roommates from South Carolina, was always in charge of gathering said other liquids.

As the game kicked off, I was the only person with a true rooting interest in the game. The sole Cowboys fan (that seems to be a theme with me) in the room, I was up against about 30 or so people that were extremely tired of everything Cowboys. After all, when you're on top of the mountain and no one can push you off, the opposition does nothing but grow in numbers. Dallas raced out to an early 10-0 lead. After an offensive pass interference call on Michael Irvin negated a touchdown, Dallas kicked a field goal to go up 13-0 in the second quarter. Pittsburgh finally joined the scoring with only 13 seconds left, leaving the Cowboys with a 13-7 halftime lead.

Larry Brown's first interception of Neil O'Donnell led the Cowboys to a 20-7 lead midway through the third quarter. By this time, my infamous trash-talking gene was in full throttle. That dastardly liquid courage had reared it's head and, combined with the Cowboys lead and a few winning hands of the card game Tonk, I was feeling on top of the world.

Hampton U. is known for it's beautiful female students, and fortunately we had plenty in attendance as there were only about 12 guys at the party. Jaime's other roommate whose name escapes me fired up the grill and we took turns cooking hot dogs, hamburgers and steaks. Some of them were edible and a couple even ended up being tasty. I don't know how you mess up a hot dog, but having it fall into the coals and still serving it probably counts as one of those ways. Dirt don't hurt as the saying goes!

When Pittsburgh closed the gap to 20-17, the party was at it's highest point. Everyone I had been giving grief to was more than happy to return the favor to me. I had the quick responses ready; "We're here, the [insert  team name here] is doing the same thing as us- watching from the couch!" The card games had switched from competitive to downright comical after Sneaky did what he always did, got caught cheating. When the victory was sealed and the Cowboys were declared the 27-17 victor, the party was in full swing. There were some festivities not fit to print, no animals were harmed in the proceedings and the statute of limitations has probably run out on everything else- but that's what college was all about. At least until you realized that you were supposed to be getting an education, too.

It's funny that one of my lasting memories of college is of a function not specific to the college environment. Super Bowl parties have become the thing to do as game day has emerged into an unofficial US holiday. Friends and family gather every year to watch a game most don't hold a rooting interest in. People that don't watch a millisecond of football the entire year show up and cheer like crazy. Everyone has their sheets in front of them, hoping the block they purchased pays off with the end-of-quarter scores. Men well-versed in the nuances of football spend countless minutes explaining what holding and pass interference calls are. In a way, the Super Bowl party can reconnect girlfriends and wives with their men as they start to make plans for Sunday afternoons again. I know mine has a few plans in mind... I think I'm going to have to figure out a new excuse. Do you think she'll fall for an "I have a responsibility to cover church service broadcasts for BTB" excuse?

What kind of plans do you have for the Super Bowl?

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