The first Super Bowl I remember watching with keen interest was Super Bowl XVI in which Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers over the Cincinnati Bengals to begin an amazing run of dominance through most of my formative years.
That dominance defined my sports-watching youth and gilded it with appreciation for such a team that could continually amaze. I knew the 49ers once had losing seasons, I mean, really losing seasons, but it was hard to imagine with how they played the game.
I do remember the Pittsburgh Steelers winning Super Bowls in the '70s and I was a Dallas Cowboys fan for a couple of years when they were "America's Team” and had that red stripe on their helmets to signify such. Please forgive me. I was young. I also remember Super Bowl XV in which the Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles, but for some reason, that became the symbol of the beginning of my interest in foreign policy because I, like most others in the United States, was riveted by the Iranian hostage crisis that had ended just days before. Yellow ribbons were everywhere and I remember feeling joy at the yellow stripes on the players' helmets in honor of those 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days.
But the Super Bowl became something else the following year. That Sunday, I wore my red and gold striped socks because I felt it would bring the 49ers luck. And apparently, it worked. They were victorious and the vibe throughout our neighborhood was electric. There were high-fives, hand slaps, hand shakes and hugs. It felt like a true community. And it began a long string of Super Bow victories of that dynasty. The Bengals, the Dolphins, the Bengals again, the Broncos, then finally, in 1995, the Chargers. Five rings. Five Lombardi trophies.
So it is with great pleasure that I look forward to this Sunday when the 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens, who I still consider the Browns even though they had to leave all their records in Cleveland when they departed that fine city in 1995. Will this be the beginning of a dynasty? I don't know. But the 49ers were really good for about 15 years, then OK, but then not so good and painfully awful (remember Dennis Erickson? Tim Rattay?) then not so good again for about 15 years. So, a rationale sort may project that they will be really good for at least the next 15 years