It was arguably the best Super Bowl halftime show of all time.
Performing in 2002, the first Super Bowl after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, U2 paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragedy, displaying the name of each victim in the background of a mesmerizing performance.
The band enthusiastically agreed to perform after the first scheduled artist, Janet Jackson, didn't feel comfortable with the show in the wake of the attacks. In this piece about how the halftime show grew into an event of its own, Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy explained how the NFL decided on U2:
The task of finding a replacement for Jackson fell to the NFL’s top marketing executive, John Collins, who’s now the NHL’s COO. Shortly after drawing that unenviable gig, Collins saw U2 perform at Madison Square Garden. During one of the band’s half-dozen encores that night, the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed six weeks earlier scrolled slowly across the domed roof of the arena. “At first people didn’t know what was going on,” Collins remembers, “and then you heard, 'Oh, my God!,' as they realized. People were reading the names of victims they’d known. It was a heavy moment—an amazing moment.”
You can read about how the Super Bowl's most memorable acts came to be here.
- Rohan Nadkarni