Super Bowl LV will take place on Sunday and this year’s broadcast rotation puts CBS’ crew on the biggest sporting event of the year. For many of their analysts, Super Bowl week brings back memories of their own Super Bowl experiences, and the highs and lows that come with it.
Across the network, CBS has analysts with playing, coaching, refereeing, and front office Super Bowl experience. Uproxx caught up with five of them — Bill Cowher and Phil Simms from The NFL Today, London Fletcher and Amy Trask from That Other Pregame Show, and rules analyst Gene Steratore — this week to look back on their own favorite stories from the biggest game of the year.
Well, I’ve been to the two of them. We won one in [Super Bowl] 40, and we lost in 30. So I just remember the very first one, I was 38 years old, I think at the time and I was one of the youngest coaches to go to a Super Bowl. And I remember that whole week it was you know, the Dallas Cowboys, America’s team, and when they went to practices, they had their limousines and their own drivers. And we used to get on a school bus to go to our practice, this little team from Pittsburgh. And, I just remember the build up and it was just us against [the world]. We knew about the history, but we gave a good fight and we fell short in that.
But then you don’t realize how hard it is to get there until you all of a sudden find yourself 10 years later back in the same situation. And I remember going back and the whole mantra that entire time when we went to Detroit was, “They don’t remember who loses the Super Bowl.” I’ve lost one before, and no one even remembers that we went to one. So it was like one of those things, it’s one thing to get there, but if you don’t finish the deal, you’re just like all the other 31 teams, and like you’re second.
So, I remember walking in when we got to Detroit, we got the hotel and one of the stories I always think about is I was looking out my hotel room, I could see Windsor, and on the very other side there was this casino. I’m thinking, “Oh, a week with my players here.” I kept telling them every day, DO NOT CROSS the bridge to go to Windsor to that casino, because I tell you, if you get stopped, you’re not going to come back. And you’re not gonna be able to play in the Super Bowl. I want everyone’s passport, leave it here. Don’t go to that casino! Like, man, it’s like looking at the temptation, like a little kid with a hand in a cookie jar like, “Oh, don’t do that, but that’d be kind of nice.”
So, every day I would wake up and I get through the night, no phone calls, this is good, we got through another day. So just getting to Sunday, and having us have that focus that we needed. And I said it’s all about saying no rather than about saying yes during the course of that week, which is really the focus of all of these coaches, which ironically, this year, it’s not going to be the distraction, right?
Kansas City’s coming in from Saturday and Tampa Bay, staying at home so it’s like a normal home game. But that’s always been the thing to me for coaching is the week of the Super Bowl is, you know, being able to stay focused on what you’re there to do. Miss all the potential distractions, because there’s all these events going on and celebrations going on. And you want them to enjoy it, because why else are you trying to get to the Super Bowl other than to enjoy the experience? But there’s a fine line between making sure you stay prepared for the game.
Well, lots of things come to my mind. Of course, I’m sitting here talking to you today because of playing in the Super Bowl. Otherwise, I’d have been coaching, and I’d have been fired a couple of times and probably looking for a job right now. In this business, you’re always looking for a job too, but you know.
A couple little quick things, probably the fact that you always want to go the Super Bowl and you dream of it, you work for it, but, you know, really deep down, you just go it’ll probably never happen. So when it did happen, it turned out to be everything I ever wanted it to be. And the greatest moment, yes, winning, playing and all that. But I remember standing in a tunnel of the Rose Bowl. We’re getting ready to be introduced to run out on the field, the team was, and they were gonna introduce our defense. And I remember standing there and it seemed like forever, and I just thought, “Wow, this is everything that I dreamed it would be.” Seeing the Rose Bowl, the fans, all that and it was a beautiful day, of course, in Pasadena. And then it was just awesome that and you know, it was great.
The only thing that made me nervous, was the fact that I had teammates crying. “Oh, man, you’re crying?” And then I had a I had an offensive lineman that love to, what’s the word for it? Give it up. And he’s throwing up. I’m going “Oh my god, we haven’t even run out of the tunnel.” So that’s just one of the stories that I remember that never leaves my mind. That moment before we ran out in the field.”
The moments that stand out from from my Super Bowl experience. Obviously, the tackle the last play of the game where, where we were able to beat the Tennessee Titans with Mike Jones making that that iconic tackle of Kevin Dyson on the one yard line. But even as I think about it, it was the Titans, you know, you go back to the previous drive, they tied the game up and then we get the ball back on offense. Kurt Warner throws a touchdown to Isaac Bruce was like a one-play touchdown drive and our defense, we’re exhausted.
So we take the field again, to go up and try to stop Steve McNair and Eddie George and the Titans offense. They’re moving the ball and Steve McNair, he’s making a ton of plays. He’s running the ball, making some great plays and just putting themselves in position to possibly tie score. And I remember that last play I was on the field and we were in a coverage where I had man-to-man coverage on Eddie George. We were man-and-man across the board and McNair, because he was such a great running quarterback, there was going to be always a threat of him just decided to run the football.
So as I’m covering Eddie George into the flat, I kind of have one eye on Eddie George and one eye on Steve McNair in case he tried to start running, I’m hoping I would be able to make a tackle before he got into the end zone. But the play develops, and from my vantage point, I couldn’t tell if Dyson had gotten into the end zone or not when the tackle was made. So I wasn’t sure we won until my teammates ran on the field, the confetti starts coming down. That’s how I knew we won the game.
It is my own personal thrill of victory to agony of defeat. We won the AFC championship game, I will forever remember when Zack Crockett scored with very little time remaining was the moment I realized we’re going to the Super Bowl. And it was an overwhelming feeling. And just the reaction of our fans at that moment and our fans to the victory covers me with chills to this day. And then the next week we lost the Super Bowl. And that night I fell asleep with my head on my husband’s shoulder, crying myself to sleep in the very clothes I wore to the game. So it really was the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.
I don’t know if this happened many many decades ago, but we were the one time where there was no week off between the championship game and the Super Bowl. And I don’t want to take anything away from Tampa Bay, they beat us fair and square. But that was certainly to our detriment, because when facing your former head coach, who knows every one of your play calls and signals and rotations, that extra week off would have certainly helped us to be able to reorient. But again, not to take away from Tampa — they beat us — but I did I fell asleep that night in the clothes I wore to the game and cried myself to sleep on my husband shoulder.
Yeah, you know, the call naturally is surreal anytime you’re an official and you get that phone call that tells you that you’ve been selected to referee a Super Bowl. That reflective moment that occurs pretty quick after the surreal moment of actually hearing that takes place. And for me, it was a very personal thing. And then getting to the game and actually walking out on the field, it was my late father’s last football game that he got to see. And you know, the reason that my brother and I both got into officiating is because my father had done it for so long. So the full circle kind of feeling about a half hour before kickoff and looking up in the stands and seeing him and my mom so proud and happy. It’s kind of the place I started from, you know, when we at least 30 minutes before the kickoff, for sure.