This post contains mentions of drug abuse.
1.First, the night before the first Super Bowl in 1967, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Max McGee broke curfew and reportedly spent the night with two flight attendants he met at a hotel bar. McGee, who was close to retirement, didn't think he'd get off the bench in the game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, so he spent the night drinking and returned to his room in the morning. However, while hungover, McGee was put in the game after Boyd Dowler got injured, and he ended up catching the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.
2.During the 2009 Super Bowl, where the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27–23, viewers in the Tucson, Arizona area had their broadcast momentarily interrupted — for about 37 seconds — when porn began playing, which reportedly included "full male nudity." Eventually, an Arizona man was arrested and plead guilty to two counts of computer tampering.
3.During the 2007 Super Bowl, Snickers aired a commercial, which depicted two male mechanics accidentally kissing while eating the same candy bar. After their kiss, the men ripped out their chest hair, beat each other up, and more in order to prove they were still "manly." Immediately, the commercial was deemed anti-gay and was pulled from further broadcasts. Both the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued complaints to the company behind Snickers.
4.Following the 2017 Super Bowl, where the New England Patriots notably overcame a 28–3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons, the jersey Tom Brady wore in the game was stolen from the locker room at NRG Stadium in Houston. The jersey was valued at over $500,000, according to Houston police. The stolen jersey was eventually recovered in Mexico after an investigation led by the FBI.
5.New Kids on the Block performed at the Super Bowl halftime show in 1991, however, ABC, who aired the game that year, didn't broadcast it live. Instead, ABC showed a news segment about the Gulf War, with Operation Desert Storm having launched a week before the game. New Kids on the Block's performance, which included a rendition of "It's A Small World," aired after the game at 10:40 EST. However, some ABC affiliates didn't even show the performance, instead turning to their already scheduled post-game TV episodes.
6.Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins notably went missing before the 2003 Super Bowl, where the Raiders were set to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After being dropped off at the team's hotel before their 11 p.m. curfew two days before the game, the next morning Robbins was nowhere to be found. He eventually turned up but was "so incoherent that coach Bill Callahan took him off the roster" for the Super Bowl.
7.During their 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson's clothes, exposing her breast. Despite Justin's involvement, Janet wrongfully ended up at the center of the controversy, with an MTV executive reportedly saying at the time, "Janet Jackson engineered [the stunt]." The moment led to Viacom CEO Les Moonves reportedly ordering that Janet's singles and music videos be blacklisted from CBS and MTV.
8.The week leading up to the 1986 Super Bowl between the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots has long been commemorated as one of the most chaotic. Notably, Bears QB Jim McMahon was at the center of a lot of it. One of the most memorable moments was when McMahon bent over and mooned a helicopter flying overhead during the Wednesday afternoon practice.
9.During the 2010 Super Bowl, Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow starred in an anti-abortion commercial from the conservative Christian group Focus on Family, alongside his mother. The ad focused on Tim's mom saying she refused to have an abortion after doctors reportedly advised her to have one after she contracted amoebic dysentery on a mission trip. The commercial immediately drew criticism.
10.During the 2007 Super Bowl, a massive rainstorm in Miami threatened to ruin Prince's now-iconic halftime show. The rain caused producers of the show to panic because the weather could interfere with the stage, Prince could slip and fall, etc. They began to wonder if it would be better to record the dress rehearsal in the event the show couldn't go on or if it was safer to have Prince lip sync to his own track if the band couldn't safely be on stage. In typical Prince fashion, he said, "I'm Prince, I'm gonna play live."
11.During the 1989 Super Bowl, the halftime performance featured an Elvis impersonator named "Elvis Presto." This halftime show marked a departure from previous halftime shows and featured Elvis Presto, and a 1950s-themed performance featuring Broadway musical songs, fireworks, magic tricks, elaborate costumes, and more. The show also attempted to include 3-D effects, so everyone at home needed 3-D glasses.
12.In 2000, while leaving a Super Bowl party at a nightclub in Atlanta, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was involved in a fight where two men were stabbed to death. Ultimately, Lewis was charged with murder, with the charges later being dropped. Lewis pled guilty to obstructing justice, with Lewis' two friends being acquitted. No one was ever convicted for the fatal stabbing.
13.At the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show, Madonna was the headliner and was joined by numerous artists, including M.I.A. During M.I.A.'s performance, she flashed her middle finger, which reportedly went against the contract performers for the Super Bowl sign so they "comply with the NFL's standards." A month after the game, the NFL was reportedly seeking $16 million in damages, with M.I.A. tweeting after news broke, "@madonna ummm .... can I borrow 16 million?"
14.The night before the 1989 Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers, Bengals running back Stanley Wilson was notably found having suffered a reported drug relapse and tested positive for cocaine use. Wilson, who had been suspended several times for drug use and had entered rehab at the insistence of the team, was reportedly found by the coaching staff and was subsequently banned from the NFL for life.
15.The 2008 Super Bowl, which saw the undefeated New England Patriots taking on the New York Giants, came after a season filled with "Spygate," where the Patriots had been caught videotaping their opponents' defensive signals. Two days before the Super Bowl, a US Senator "threatened a congressional investigation," and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell assured everyone he had "ordered the destruction of the tapes and notes," so they couldn't be exploited.
16.Then, in 2015, the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick were once again at the center of controversy when it was revealed that footballs used in the AFC championship game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts had been "deflated to air pressure levels below what the league allowed." After this game, the Patriots advanced to the 2015 Super Bowl where they beat the Seattle Seahawks.
17.And finally, in 2013, during the Super Bowl where the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34–31, power went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome where the game was being held. The game was halted for approximately 34 minutes in the third quarter. Inside the stadium, escalators stopped working, credit card machines shut down, and emergency lighting was turned on.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.