24. Super Bowl XXXI, 1997: Green Bay 35—New England 21
Two exceptional young quarterbacks met in this matchup. At the time, it was no more than even money whether Green Bay’s Brett Favre or New England’s Drew Bledsoe would ultimately have the better career. The result of their closer-then-it-appears encounter would ultimately, dramatically impact their differing legacies. This was also the final Super Bowl for Pats’ losing coach Bill Parcells, although he would come close again with the Jets.
Competitiveness: 7 out of 10. In a game that turned on a couple of Favre bombs and a Desmond Howard kickoff return, the Patriots never appeared overwhelmed.
Star Power: 7 out of 10. Brett Favre was and is a one-man carnival and Reggie White may be the best defensive lineman in history. Coach Parcells is a legend of the game.
Controversy/Intrigue: 9 out of 10. By gametime Parcells was already feuding with Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. The rift between the two would eventually lead to the events that brought Bill Belichick to New England, in one of the most consequential developments in league history. Holmgren would ultimately leave Favre and the Packers in frustration, and later take the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl.
Aftermath: 7 out of 10. Favre’s lone championship vouchsafed the Ole Gun Slinger’s place in history. Beneath the surface, the Patriots’ great dynasty started to find its footing following decades of incompetence.
Aggregate Score: 30 out of 40.
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