On Feb. 3, 2019, we will get the long-awaited sequel, one that has been 17 years in the making.
(Well, technically it was the St. Louis Rams, but you get the idea.)
Though nothing about that first Super Bowl really jumps out at you on paper, it was an incredible football game. If Super Bowl 53 is anything like it, we will be in for a very entertaining few hours of football.
The cast for the sequel is almost entirely different. Only two characters remain from the original — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They will be coming into this Super Bowl against the Rams as two of the most famous names in the history of sports. The first time around, Brady was almost completely unknown, and Belichick was just another football coach.
Other than New England’s coach-quarterback duo, everything is completely different, right down to the location. Super Bowl 36 was in New Orleans, and Super Bowl 53 will be in Atlanta. The first time, the Patriots were almost 14-point underdogs, and this time they will be slight favorites.
Last time, on one side, you had offensive wizard Mike Martz coaching the high-powered “Greatest Show on Turf,” which featured quarterback Kurt Warner and his outstanding supporting cast of Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Ricky Proehl etc. Meanwhile, on the other side, you had a group of unknowns led by the defensive genius Belichick, and a 24-year-old quarterback in Brady who was finishing up his first season as a starter in the NFL.
The game was a mismatch on paper. But even though Brady’s supporting cast didn’t make near as many headlines as Warner’s, they were every bit as effective. In the 2001 playoffs, you could never count out guys like Troy Brown, Antowain Smith, Jermaine Wiggins and J.R. Redmond, among others.
(Anybody reading this who isn’t a Patriots fan is now asking … who?)
And then, of course, there was Ty Law and Adam Vinatieri, the two most important factors of Super Bowl 36.
Had it not been for Law’s pick six against Warner in the second quarter — a play that completely swung the tide of that game in New England’s favor — the Pats may have never had a chance in that Super Bowl. And if it hadn’t been for the right leg of Vinatieri, which drilled home the game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired — Patriots 20, Rams 17 — who knows how it would’ve ended?
For Super Bowl 53, everything will be different. Now the Rams are led by 33-year-old Sean McVay, who might just be the NFL’s next great coach. They once again have a high-powered offense, but now it features young quarterback Jared Goff, and guys like Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and newcomer C.J. Anderson. On the defensive side, they have arguably the biggest beast in the league in Aaron Donald.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are no longer a team of unknowns. They have Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl 51 hero James White and dynamic rookie Sony Michel, and one of the league’s premier defensive backs in Stephon Gilmore.
Everything looks different this time around… for the most part. Brady and Belichick are still there, the only two original stars that were brought back for the sequel.
Super Bowl 36 was a tremendous football Super Bowl. It’s not very often that sequels live up to the original, but hopefully this one does.