Conference Championship Sunday is always an exciting day of football with the NFL’s four best teams facing off with Super Bowl spots on the line. After all of that drama, what do football fans get? Two very long weeks of lots of talking and no actual football.
Each year the bye week is spent building up the storylines for that year’s big game, with comments turning into controversies, old news being returned to the spotlight and any locker room turmoil put under a microscope.
Since these things are generally forgotten as soon as the actual game begins, we have gone back to dig up some of the best storylines from the football-free fortnight over the last decade plus.
Super Bowl XLIX-Patriots vs. Seahawks
It may be because this is the freshest in our minds, but the 2015 Super Bowl contained two huge topics that launched thousands of pieces of content: Marshawn Lynch’s disinterest in speaking to the media, and, of course, Deflategate.
These stories had everyone outside of the Seattle and New England locker rooms wringing their hands and wondering how they would affect the game, and the answer seemed to be: Not at all.
Super Bowl XLVIII-Seahawks vs. Broncos
Who knows what we all would have talked about back in late January 2014 if an overexcited Richard Sherman had not given one of the most memorable postgame interviews of all-time following an amazing play to end the Seahawks' NFC Championship Game win over the 49ers.
Super Bowl XLVII-Ravens vs 49ers
Ray Lewis announced before the playoffs that he would be retiring whenever the team’s postseason ended, giving a perfect story arc for the legendary Ravens linebacker’s career as Baltimore prepared to play the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Also, did you know that Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh are brothers? Well they are and you were reminded of it loudly and often in those two weeks.
Super Bowl XLVI-Giants vs. Patriots
These teams had met previously in Super Bowl XLII, when the Patriots came within a David Tyree helmet catch of completing a perfect season. To prepare everyone for the rematch, the government mandated that the play be shown on a loop on all screens for the full 14 days before the game.
Super Bowl XLV-Packers vs. Steelers
The Packers got some bulletin board material from an unlikely place, as President Obama said he would attend the Super Bowl that year if the Bears defeated Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. Charles Woodson decided the team would make a victory visit to Obama instead, with “White House!” becoming the team’s rallying cry.
Super Bowl XLIV-Saints vs. Colts
In retrospect, you almost have to feel bad for the Colts, as pretty much every neutral-minded person was pulling for the Saints to walk off with the Lombardi trophy amid the countless tales linking the football team’s play with the city’s effort to rebuild in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
Super Bowl XLIII- Steelers vs. Cardinals
Much was being made of Kurt Warner‘s late career return to form that rocketed the Cardinals into the Super Bowl that year, but that was overshadowed by the juicier story of Anquan Boldin's and Todd Haley’s sideline argument during the NFC Championship Game.
Super Bowl XLII-Giants vs. Patriots
Would you believe me if I told you the Patriots had not lost a single game up until the Super Bowl that season? I know, right?
Super Bowl XLI-Colts vs. Bears
In 2007, Peyton Manning was playing in his very first Super Bowl, and the media decided there were two Rex Grossmans. While plenty of ink was spilled on Manning, it was the battle between “Good Rex” and “Bad Rex” that seemed to get the most play before the game.
Super Bowl XL-Steelers vs. Seahawks
The 40th Super Bowl took place at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. Also from Detroit, retiring Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. Thank god the “I'm Coming Home” song had not been created yet or the millions of montages created in that week would have been even more unbearable.