Despite the tremendous amount of planning that goes into the Super Bowl, things don’t always go as expected. Not to mention, with folks taking to Twitter and TikTok these days, anything is apt to go viral — for better or worse — on the night of the NFL’s biggest game. From cringeworthy blunders to downright bizarre ideas, these 7 moments mark some of the strangest in Super Bowl history — for now, anyway.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Unplugged
Things got a bit weird during the 2014 halftime show; viewers realized that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were faking their performance on one of TV’s biggest stages. Even stranger? The band didn’t seem bothered enough to hide this fact as both the bass and lead guitar were very clearly completely unplugged.
Later the band’s bassist, Flea, confirmed our at-home observations, clarifying that only the vocals were live. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ singer, Anthony Kiedis, was the only one allowed to go live; the NFL required the band to pre-record the rest of the instruments to ensure a “perfect” performance. Obviously, fans were pretty upset. Flea made sure to point out that the band wasn’t trying to pull one over on anyone, hence why the unplugged guitars were so visible.
With all the efforts and thousands of dollars that go into planning the Super Bowl, the last thing you expect is a blackout in the middle of the big game. But that’s exactly what happened during the second half of Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Fans in attendance endured 34 minutes of darkness at the New Orleans Superdome; some were actually trapped in elevators.
Later, investigations showed that the outage was a result of low settings on the switch gears — the very things put in place to prevent power surges. Although, we’d like to point out that none other than Beyoncé — and her Destiny’s Child alum — performed right before the outage, and if anyone has the power to drain the energy from a stadium by putting on a show-stopping performance, it’s Beyoncé.
On the football side of things, San Francisco 49ers diehards experienced a memorable night — in more than one way. Post-power outage, San Francisco made an impressive 17-point comeback, inching closer to the Ravens. Although the 49ers’ blackout buzz wasn’t enough to topple Baltimore, it was still quite the game.
Thurman Thomas’ Lost Helmet — and Play Time
Super Bowl XXVI in 1992 wasn’t great for the Buffalo Bills. But it was particularly strange for running back Thurman Thomas, who, just before kickoff, couldn’t find his helmet. Eventually, Thomas was reunited with his helmet, which meant he could play during the second half of the game.
Needless to say, theories as to what led to the missing (or misplaced) helmet swirled. The most credible? Another player accidentally picked it up. Still, Thomas was one of the best offensive players in the Super Bowl that year, so Bills fans believe his absence for the first two quarters cost the team dearly.
Tom Brady’s Stolen Jersey
While we could wax on about #Deflategate and numerous other conversations swirling around Tom Brady and his legacy, we’ll save all of that for another time. Although Brady is currently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (after a very short-lived retirement), he spent most of his NFL career with the New England Patriots, and one of Brady’s wins with the Pats came in 2017.
After a dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLIX, Brady lost his game jersey. That might sound like a moot point — after all, players have a ton of jerseys throughout their careers — but the whole debacle led to a collaborative search between the FBI, the Houston police department, the NFL and even Mexican authorities.
In the end, an international media member, who had credentials for the event, was found to be in possession of not just Brady’s jersey, but other equipment that once belonged to previous Super Bowl participants.
Coach Don Shula Pursues a Thief
The Super Bowl VII was exciting for Coach Don Shula; his Miami Dolphins played one of their best seasons, all of which culminated with 1973’s big game. It was also something of a redemption since the team had lost the 1972 Super Bowl to the Dallas Cowboys.
To celebrate their victory over Washington, the Dolphins carried their coach, holding him high. But, amid all the excitement, an opportunist thought this was the best time to try and steal Coach Shula’s watch. But the Super Bowl-winning coach was pretty alert; after his players lowered him to the ground, Shula pursued the thief and retrieved his watch, marking the day’s second victory of sorts.
The Virtual Coin Toss
This one might not sound as strange today — especially in a post-height of COVID-19 world where almost everything can be done virtually. However, back in 1985, Super Bowl XIX’s virtual coin toss was quite newsworthy. The big game clashed with former President Ronald Reagan’s second-term inauguration, but Reagan was determined to toss the coin ahead for the face-off between the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.
Since Reagan couldn’t change his inauguration date — it’s dictated by the U.S. Constitution, after all — he went on to toss the coin at the White House, and this game-starting flip was broadcast via satellite. The coin landed on tails — in favor of the 49ers, who ended up winning the Super Bowl that year. And President Reagan went down in history as the first sitting president to perform the Super Bowl coin toss.
Indiana Jones and the Super Bowl Skit of 1995
When you think of memorable Super Bowl halftime shows, it’s likely that a slew of legendary artists come to mind, from Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Diana Ross to U2, Prince and Jennifer Lopez. But Super Bowl XXIX, which was played in 1995, featured something a little different — an Indiana Jones-themed skit.
The installments in the original Indy trilogy came out in 1981, ‘84 and ‘89, so you might be thinking: Why did 1995 call for this skit? Dubbed Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, the performance was packed full of drama as well as musical performances from legends like Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle, and it was all done in the name of promoting a then-new Indiana Jones-themed Disney attraction. The impressive choreography certainly thrilled all who tuned in, but it was also one of the Super Bowl’s stranger moments, too.