Sunday, October 23, 2011

We better hope Heinz Field never hosts a Super Bowl. If so, the Steelers are probably going to really suck that year

In the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the Miami Dolphins play the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Of course, in the real world, the idea of an NFL team playing the Super Bowl in its home venue is a scenario that can only be imagined in Hollywood.

There have been 38 Super Bowls played at venues with host NFL franchises, but no host team has ever actually had a season good enough to even make it to a conference championship.

If there was ever a year for this trend to finally stop, it would have been this season. Super Bowl XLVI is being held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on February 5th, 2012. The Indianapolis Colts have been perennial Super Bowl contenders for years, and they have arguably the game's best quarterback in Peyton Manning. However, Manning is out for the year with a neck injury, and the Colts have stumbled to an 0-6 start. I think it's pretty safe to say that the Colts will not be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl this year.

The Peytonless and winless Indianapolis Colts are just the latest example of a team crapping out with a chance to maybe have the ultimate home-field advantage on the sport's biggest stage.

Just last year, the Cowboys were hosting the Super Bowl in the billion dollar Jerry-Dome, but Dallas started out the year 1-7, Tony Romo suffered a season-ending injury and was replaced by Jon Kitna, Wade Phillips was fired, and the Cowboys finished the year at 6-10.

All-time, in 572 regular season games, the Super Bowl host team is a combined 239-329-4. And if it wasn't for the Miami Dolphins (75-62-1), the record would be much, much worse.

The City of Miami has hosted the Super Bowl nine times, but even though the Miami Dolphins have had some pretty legendary and talented teams throughout the years, the closest they ever came to playing the Super Bowl in their home venue was in 1994, when they lost in the Divisional round to the Chargers, 22-21.

The Dolphins of the 1970's seemed to really hit their peak in the years in-between the City of Miami hosting Super Bowls. The City hosted its first Super Bowl following the 1968 season, when the Dolphins were a lowly expansion team that finished 5-8-1. Miami hosted its second Super Bowl following the 1970 season, and even though the Dolphins finished the year 10-4, they weren't quite ready for prime-time and lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. The young team then came of age in 1971 and played in Super Bowl VI (Tulane Stadium in New Orleans), Super Bowl VII (Los Angeles Coliseum), and Super Bowl VIII (Rice Stadium in Houston). In 1975, the season after Larry Czonka and Co. departed for the World Football League, the Dolphins missed the playoffs with a 10-4 record, and it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who represented the AFC at Super Bowl X in Miami's Orange Bowl.

And other than those Dolphins teams from the 70's and 90's, only two other host teams have ever even made the playoffs. The 1967 Los Angeles Rams finished the year with an 11-1-2 mark but lost to a juggernaut Green Bay Packers team in the playoffs. And the 2000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 10-6 but lost in the NFC Wildcard round.

Some Super Bowl host teams have done horribly even after having recent success. Super Bowl XXXII was played at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, and despite making the Super Bowl just three seaons prior, the Chargers finished with a 4-12 record in 1997. The Atlanta Falcons played in Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. The following year, Super Bowl XXXIV was played in the Falcon's backyard, the Georgia Dome, but the team went a miserable 5-11.

Of course, as you may have guessed, the New Orleans Saints are the worst Super Bowl host team, with a 42-92-2 record. Maybe that's why the NFL has held nine Super Bowls in New Orleans. The chances of the Saints taking advantage of the situation are pretty-slim.

I don't know why most teams play so poorly in years when the Super Bowl is played at their home stadium, but the numbers speak for themselves.

I know Ambassador/owner Dan Rooney has a lot of clout in the NFL, but let's just hope he never wins a bid to host the Super Bowl at Heinz Field.

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