Eight things about Super Bowl XXVII you did not know other than Dallas 52, Buffalo 17

Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin spreads his arms in celebration in the end zone as teammate Alvin Harper runs behind him.
Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin (88) and Alvin Harper (80) celebrate after a second-quarter touchdown during Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 31, 1993, at the Rose Bowl.
(Douglas C. Pizac / Associated Press)
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Seventh in a series looking back at the Super Bowls held in the Los Angeles area. Inside stories on Super Bowl XXVII that influenced a change in future games:

The most recent Super Bowl in Los Angeles was a launching pad for Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys. They crushed the Buffalo Bills, 52-17, in Super Bowl XXVII on Jan. 31, 1993.

“I would always get a little uptight before games,” said Aikman, now lead game analyst for Fox. “But I wasn’t at all on this day. I was so relaxed. I was a little surprised by it. I couldn’t believe how calm I was leading up to the game.


“As a quarterback especially, you can put a lot of pressure on yourself. But I came back in after pregame warmups and thought, ‘Man, I feel pretty calm. I feel good. I’m ready to go.’ ”

That calm didn’t last.

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“When they did pregame introductions, that’s when it hit me,” he said. “We go back in the locker room, we come out, they introduce the offense, they introduce me and when I come running out of that tunnel, the electricity and the emotion, everything in that stadium, it took my breath away.”

There were lots of behind-the-scenes stories in this game. In honor of Aikman’s jersey number, here are eight you likely didn’t know:


1 — Easy like Sunday morning

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII.
Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 52-17 at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993.
(Susan Ragan / Associated Press)

The Super Bowl was a homecoming for Aikman, who was the No. 1 overall pick out of UCLA in 1989. So it helped, in advance of the biggest game of his life, that the Cowboys practiced on campus at Spaulding Field, had Bruins equipment managers helping out and stayed in a Santa Monica hotel.


“I was eating dinners during the week at places I was familiar with from college,” Aikman said. “I think that really helped me get in a comfort zone during the week where it just felt like home. Then to be playing at the Rose Bowl, and we used the same locker room I used at UCLA. The whole experience was very comfortable.”

Until the Saturday night before the game.

“We got out of meetings and we went back to my room,” Aikman said. “It was me and [teammates] John Gesek, Dale Hellestrae and Jay Novacek. We’re sitting there watching some movie and all of a sudden we hear this noise and I’m like, ‘Is that thunder?’

“I look outside and it was pouring down rain. I could not believe it.”

For Aikman in particular, that was a problem.

“I couldn’t throw a wet ball at all,” he said. “The biggest game of my life and it’s raining? Now I’m starting to panic a little bit.”

Although he initially was concerned he might not be able to fall asleep, that wasn’t an issue.

“I slept great,” he said. “I woke up, and the first thing I did was rush to the window. I opened the shades and drapes to see what kind of day it was. It was a perfect Southern California day.”


2 — Once more with feeling

The Super Bowl XXVII halftime show featured more than 10,000 people raising colored cards to create a mosaic of children
The Super Bowl XXVII halftime show featured more than 10,000 people in attendance raising colored cards to create a mosaic of children throughout the Rose Bowl.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

The NFL was under heavy self-imposed pressure to go big with the halftime show — not just because this game was being played in the entertainment capital but because of what happened a year earlier in Minneapolis.

There, the NFL staged a halftime show called “Winter Magic: A Salute to the 1992 Winter Olympics,” and featured Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill skating to the music of Gloria Estefan. Entertaining? Sure. But it wasn’t the Rolling Stones.

A fledgling TV network saw an opportunity and seized it. In a historic bit of counterprogramming, Fox aired a live episode of the comedy show “In Living Color” that featured football-themed sketches, a performance by Color Me Badd and a clock in the corner of the screen that counted down to the start of the third quarter, so fans could switch back to the game.

The special siphoned 20 million-25 million viewers from the Super Bowl, and Nielsen estimated that CBS lost a staggering 10 ratings points during halftime.


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That was unacceptable to the NFL. No more “Winter Magic” halftime shows.

The league didn’t mess around. It secured Michael Jackson for the next halftime show.


3 — Flipping out

Here’s how different the world was when the Super Bowl was last played in Los Angeles:

The pregame coin toss was performed by O.J. Simpson.

Simpson, a former star running back for the Bills, was an NBC Sports analyst at the time. That was 17 months before the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, and the subsequent “Trial of the Century.”

(The Bills called heads and won the toss.)


4 — One who (almost) got away

Garth Brooks sang the national anthem, but that almost didn’t happen. The country superstar was refusing to take the field within minutes of his scheduled performance.

First of all, Brooks had done a ton for the NFL during Super Bowl week, including two concerts, anthem rehearsals, appearances and a reported $1-million donation to the league’s youth education charities. He was being pulled in all sorts of directions.


Garth Brooks sings the national anthem as actress Marlee Matlin signs.
Garth Brooks sings the national anthem as actress Marlee Matlin signs, before the start of Super Bowl XXVII.
(Rusty Kennedy / Associated Press)

But he also had a request. He wanted the video for his song “We Shall Be Free” to be part of the Super Bowl broadcast.

“It was coming off the L.A. riots, and he said to NBC, ‘I’ve got a song and a video, would you play it on air?’ And the game’s producer told him yes,” recalled Jim Steeg, who oversaw Super Bowls for the NFL at the time. “The bad news is, Garth showed up at the game somewhere right after noon. NBC was already on the air and took the position the network was not going to show it because there wasn’t enough time to preview it.”

Brooks was fuming and said he wasn’t going to sing. He left the locker room and offered words of encouragement to actress Marlee Matlin, who was going to join him on the field and perform the anthem in sign language.

NBC tried unsuccessfully to dissuade Brooks from leaving, but the singer headed up the tunnel and out of the Rose Bowl, with an NFL executive at his side urging him not to walk through the crowd and instead wait for a league car.

“So he’s standing at the top of the tunnel and the fans see him and are all yelling at him, ‘Go get ‘em’ and ‘You’ll do a great job,’ all this stuff,” Steeg recalled.


Meanwhile, NBC was engaged in frantic discussions about what to do, and Steeg was trying to find an alternate solution.

Garth Brooks and Marlee Matlin hug after performing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXVII.
(Eric Reinke / Associated Press)

“I walked out of the tunnel onto the field,” Steeg said. “Everybody was kind of screaming at me on the radio saying, ‘What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?’ I think I said something like, ‘Shut the … up and let me think.’

“At that point I saw a friend of mine from Radio City and he’s sitting there with Jon Bon Jovi. We kind of looked at each other and I whistled Jon down to the field and said, ‘Would you like to sing the anthem?’ and he said yes.

“So I start walking back in with him, and now NBC has kind of recanted their whole position on playing this video. So that, and the fans shouting encouragement to him, I think convinced Garth to come back and sing it.”

Both Brooks and Bon Jovi were getting ready to sing.

“There was a moment when they were about 30 feet away from each other just staring at each other,” Steeg said. “Garth decided to do it. I thanked Jon and he went back up into the stands.”

Brooks sang the anthem, and NBC aired the video.


5 — Get a grip

Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith (22) picks up yardage under Buffalo Bills linebacker Cornelius Bennett.
Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith picks up yardage under Buffalo Bills linebacker Cornelius Bennett.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)


As pristine and spectacular as the Rose Bowl field was, a lot of the Cowboys players were having a hard time finding their footing in the first half. Turns out, their half-inch cleats weren’t long enough. So the equipment crew sprang into action and started switching to 5/8-inch screw-in spikes on the fly.

“I think we were completed by the start of the second quarter, maybe even sooner,” Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston said. “Our equipment guys were like NASCAR pit crews. They had drills in their hands, taking people’s cleats out and putting the longer ones in.

“If you watch the replays, you’ll see that our guys start to get better footing as the game goes on.”

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Cowboys equipment director Mike McCord, who was in his first year as an assistant on the equipment staff at the time, said the difference was considerable.

“Not to say the Bills were slipping and sliding all over the place,” he said, “but our guys had so much confidence playing the game, and it just showed on film that there was no apprehension on their part in terms of making cuts across the field and changing direction.”


6 — At the half

Michael Jackson yells and spreads his arms as he performs during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII.
Michael Jackson performs at the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show.
(Rusty Kennedy / Associated Press)

So what did Dallas coaches tell their players at halftime? Don’t ask Michael Irvin and Charles Haley, because at least for a bit, those two Cowboys stars quietly slipped out of the locker room to catch a glimpse of Jackson’s halftime show.

“Jimmy Johnson was a down-to-the-letter coach, so we couldn’t leave when he was talking,” recalled Irvin, a Hall of Fame receiver and NFL Network analyst. “But Jimmy also said, ‘You do what you have to do to be ready to play. Don’t hurt the team and be ready to play.’ He understood individualism.”

Michael Jackson leaps among the pyrotechnics during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII.
(Douglas Pizac / Associated Press)

And in this case, individualism meant checking out what is still regarded by some as the greatest Super Bowl halftime show (although others argue the Prince show was better.).

“We came to the locker room and met as a team,” Irvin said. “It was once we broke down into our individual groups that we sneaked back out. I told my coach I had to go to the bathroom.”

Dallas might have been more buttoned down had it not been leading at half, 28-3.

“I scored those two touchdowns right before half,” Irvin said. “So there was a little bit of peace right before halftime. We were feeling good. Say we were down? It would have been a whole different situation.”

Haley, a Hall of Fame outside linebacker/defensive end, declined to speak to The Times for this story but is said to be a huge Michael Jackson fan. In fact, in at least two of his rookie cards with the San Francisco 49ers, Haley is wearing one glove — and team insiders say that was an homage to the King of Pop.


7 — Future shock

Not all the NFL stars at the Rose Bowl that Sunday played for the Cowboys and Bills. Future All-Pro receiver Steve Smith was there, too. He was an eighth-grader from South Los Angeles visiting the historic stadium as one of hundreds of kids in Jackson’s halftime show.


“I liked Michael Jackson, but it was a little bit surreal,” Smith said. “There were folks fainting. He was the biggest star. Girls were over here fainting and crying, and I’m like,’Maaaan…’”

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Informed that his fellow NFL Network analyst Irvin left the locker room to watch the show, Smith nodded knowingly: “I believe that. Yeah, I believe it.”


8 — Agent of change

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman smiles and lifts a fist while celebrating at Super Bowl XXVII.
Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman cemented his status as an NFL superstar with a spectacular performance in Super Bowl XXVII.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Aikman had a spectacular game, throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions with a lofty passer rating of 140.7. He was named the most valuable player of the game. It was all a whirlwind for him, and before he knew it he was in a limousine with his agent, Leigh Steinberg, and heading back to the team hotel in Santa Monica.

“I said to him, ‘Troy, do you know what just happened?’ ” Steinberg said. “And he said, ‘Yeah, we just won the game.’ I said, ‘No, your life will never be the same. When you went into the stadium, you were Troy Aikman, very good quarterback. And as you exited, you were Troy Aikman, Super Bowl MVP, superstar.”

Aikman was dubious.

“We get back to the hotel and there’s this mob waiting for our car, yelling, screaming,” Steinberg said. “He can hardly get out of the car because they’re all screaming for Troy.”

The agent met eyes with his client and had one word for him: