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Super Bowl XLVIII marks the latest chapter in the grand history of pro football in the New York metro area. The great American game and the great American city have long been inextricably linked, stretching back to when the sport first burst onto the national scene. This interactive experience - packed with photos, videos and up-close-and-personal perspectives - will take you on a journey through New York and New Jersey to the Big Game at MetLife Stadium, with several stops along the way. Scroll down to begin.
Sunny 40°
Held in New York since 1965, the NFL draft settled into Radio City Music Hall in 2006, and hasn't left since. Officially called the "NFL Player Selection Meeting," the draft annually introduces a brand new batch of players - some of whom go on to accomplish amazing things. What does a Super Bowl MVP look like ... long before he actually lifts the Lombardi Trophy? Check out draft-day photos featuring members of this elite fraternity.
Gil Brandt remembers the 1958 NFL Championship Game as "The Greatest Game Ever Played"

The 1958 NFL Championship, which was held at old Yankee Stadium, was probably the most important game ever played, as far as introducing the NFL to the world. It involved premier players like Johnny Unitas, Frank Gifford, Gino Marchetti, Alan Ameche, Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry. And, of course, you had coaching legends on the sideline: Weeb Ewbank was the Colts' head man, while Vince Lombardi (offensive) and Tom Landry (defensive) served as coordinators for the Giants. In fact, the matchup featured the participation of a whopping 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers.

I remember watching Ameche running off right tackle to score the winning touchdown on my TV. I was working part-time as a scout for the Los Angeles Rams at the time, and I can tell you that it was definitely the kind of game that would make one want to pursue a career in pro football. Everything was on a bit of a smaller scale than folks are used to now, but it was absolutely huge at the time. College football ruled the day at the time, and then this game made all this publicity for the NFL. It went a long way toward boosting the league's profile.

Eventually, I would have the opportunity to discuss the game at length with Landry. He told me that when the game went into overtime -- the first time that a championship matchup would be decided in sudden death -- and the Giants won the toss, there was a bit of indecision as to whether they should take the ball or play defense. New York ended up taking the ball and going three-and-out before the Colts made their victory-clinching drive. I think Landry's theory was that the Giants would have been better off kicking the ball away and forcing Baltimore to do something to get into field-goal position.

Years later, when I was working for the Cowboys, we played a couple of games at the old Yankee Stadium, and I can tell you that it was not a very good place to play. You hear so much about that place, but really, the dressing rooms were small and terrible; the only good thing about them was that they had a manager's office, which the head coach could use. The benches for both teams were also positioned on the same side of the field. I do remember that everyone wanted to go down to the end zone, past where the Giants had their bench, to see the plaques honoring Yankees greats like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Super Bowl stars from around the world
Scores of immigrants heading to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries arrived via Ellis Island. Here, in the spirit of reflecting New York City's history as a point of entry for people from all over the world, are some photos of notable Super Bowl participants who were born outside of the 50 United States.
  • Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
  • Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
  • Credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
  • Credit: USA Today Sports/Jeff Hanisch
  • Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
  • Credit: National Football League
  • Credit: AP Photo/Tom Gannam
  • Credit: AP Photo/Ed Reinke
  • Credit: AP Photo/Gregory Payan
  • Credit: NFL/Ben Liebenberg
Count down the NFL's most mind-blowing stats
10 Color Blind
Teams that wear white jerseys are 29-18 in Super Bowl games. (White jerseys don't necessarily mean "away.") Most recently, the teams wearing the white jerseys have won eight of the past nine Super Bowls.
09 Weather Games
Super Bowl VI, which the Dallas Cowboys won 24-3 over the Miami Dolphins in 1972, had a kickoff temperature of 39 degrees -- the coldest in Super Bowl history. The game was played outdoors at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The average high on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J., is 39 degrees, according to weather.com.
08 Beginner's Luck
Six coaches have made the Super Bowl in their first season with a team, most recently in 2009 when Jim Caldwell took the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl XLIV. Three of the six coaches won in their first season -- Don McCafferty’s Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V, George Seifert’s San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV and Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. This year, three coaches took their teams to the playoffs in only their first year at the helm -- Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs), Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles) and Mike McCoy (San Diego Chargers).
07 Host Teams
The combined record of the 52 “host” teams is 346-442-5. The furthest a team has gone when it was the “host” was in the 1984 season, when the San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XIX over the Miami Dolphins at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif. Neither the Jets nor Giants finished this season with a winning record, making this the fifth straight season that the host city team(s) failed to do so. In fact, the last team to make the playoffs when the Super Bowl was played in its hometown was the Bucs back in 2000, and they lost 21-3 in the first round against the Eagles, giving Andy Reid his first postseason victory.
06 Better Regular Season
The team with the better regular-season offense (yards per game) is 22-25 in the Super Bowl, while the team with the better regular-season defense is 30-17. There have been 21 Super Bowls in which one team had the better offense and better defense; those teams are 13-8. There have been 26 Super Bowls in which one team had the better offense, but the other team had a better defense. In those games, the team with the better defense is 17-9. This season, the Broncos finished the regular season with the NFL’s best offense, while the Seattle Seahawks had the NFL’s best defense.
05 QB = MVP?
There have been 48 Super Bowl MVPs in total, including two in Super Bowl XII (Dallas Cowboys defenders Harvey Martin and Randy White). Of the 48 winners, 40 have been offensive players and, of those 40, 26 have been quarterbacks.
04 League Leaders
No Super Bowl-winning team has ever had the NFL’s leading passer from the regular season, while just four have had the league’s leading rusher (the Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith three times, the Broncos’ Terrell Davis once). Peyton Manning led the NFL in passing this season, and LeSean McCoy held the rushing title. Three Super Bowl winners have had the league’s leading receiver (the Cowboys’ Drew Pearson once, the 49ers’ Jerry Rice twice). Josh Gordon led the NFL in receiving in 2013, but his Cleveland Browns didn’t make the playoffs.
03 Familiar Territory
Super Bowl starting quarterbacks are a combined 14-5 in regular-season games played at the Super Bowl stadium that season. There have been just eight starting QBs to win a game at the Super Bowl stadium in the regular season and then win the Super Bowl that same season. The last to do it: Drew Brees in 2009 at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium. Just Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson from this year’s playoff group won at MetLife Stadium in 2013.
02 World Series & Super Bowl
It’s rare for one city or region to take home the Commissioner’s Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy in the same season. In fact, it’s happened just five times during the Super Bowl era. It won’t happen this time; the Boston Red Sox, who accomplished the feat with the Patriots in 2004, won the 2013 World Series, but the Patriots were eliminated by the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. World Series & Super Bowl Champions:
2004 Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots; 1989 Oakland Athletics and San Francisco 49ers; 1986 New York Mets and New York Giants; 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers; 1970 Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Colts
01 Super Bowl Coin Toss
When the Baltimore Ravens won the coin toss at Super Bowl XLVII, it marked the second consecutive year the AFC won the flip after a 14-season streak of NFC teams winning. The odds of winning 14 straight coin tosses are 16,384 to 1. Odds aside, how important is it to the outcome of the Super Bowl? Well, the team that has won the coin toss is 23-24 all time.
The Buildup To The Super Bowl

One of the greatest football coaches ever, the Brooklyn-born Vince Lombardi had strong ties to the New York/New Jersey metro area, including coaching stops at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, N.J., as well as a stint as offensive coordinator of the New York Giants. The Vince Lombardi Service Area is located just 3.5 miles from MetLife Stadium on the Jersey Turnpike. Below, Brian Billick -- one of many to follow in Lombardi's footsteps -- provides some first-person insight on what it's like to coach in the sport's ultimate showcase.

After we beat the Raiders, 16-3, in Oakland to win the AFC title in January 2001, I returned with the Ravens players to an exultant Baltimore and tried to get myself and my team prepared for two distinct things: 1) the Super Bowl game, to be played in two weeks; and 2) the Super Bowl experience, which goes on constantly up until kickoff.

One of the first calls I received early in that first week was from then-Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves. I'd played under Dan for a training camp when he was an offensive coach in Dallas, and we'd stayed in touch over the years. He'd been very good to me, all the way back to my early coaching days, when I went through Denver (he coached there all through the 1980s) on a recruiting trip.

Dan called me up, congratulated me, and then gave me an intense, detailed, blow-by-blow overview of Super Bowl preparation, covering everything: practices, scouting reports, how much film to watch, when to install the game plan, how to deal with distractions, etc. Then, after about an 80-minute rundown, he concluded by saying, "Of course, Brian, I've never won one of these things. So you might be better off just doing the opposite of everything I just said."

In talking to Dan, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Walsh, and others with Super Bowl experience, the message was the same: "Get your game plan done early, and don't screw with it once you get down to Tampa." We accomplished that and little else during that first week. After three playoff games in three weeks, the team was tired. We did almost nothing physical in Baltimore that first week; we had some walkthroughs, but mostly focused on scouting reports and game plan prep.

By the time we flew down to Florida, on the Monday before the Super Bowl, we had everything installed. For us, the plan was simple. No one ran on us. We knew that the New York Giants likely would make the same mistake Oakland had; they would think they were going to establish the run, and when they didn't, they'd have to resort to having their good-but-not-great quarterback (in New York's case, Kerry Collins) try to beat us through the air.

With the defense our team had, plotting offensive strategy was fairly simple: Don't make mistakes. Our best matchup on offense was Shannon Sharpe; that had been the case for much of the season. We knew the Giants had a brilliant defensive coordinator in John Fox, but we also thought we could move the ball against them.

Tuesday was media day, and I knew we would be inundated with questions about Ray Lewis' alleged involvement in a double-murder case from one year earlier. I spoke with Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' vice president of media relations, before the event, and we decided to pre-empt it. So that Tuesday, I went in front of the media and (somewhat dismissively, I'll admit, though that was by design) told the press, in essence, "We've been dealing with this all year. We're not going to re-try the case now, and you're not qualified to do so anyway." The sum total was that the media came after me, and our team was free to continue preparing for the game.

Tampa, if you've ever been there, is a city famous for its distractions. But I had never instituted a bed check, and I wasn't going to start then. There would be a curfew, but I wasn't going to go around knocking on doors. The players understood. We were very relaxed. We stayed at the Hyatt out by the airport. Other than practices, and a quick visit to the Commissioner's Ball on Friday night, I never left the hotel. The families came in Wednesday, and we bunkered in for the game.

Saturday, I remember, was the longest day in the history of mankind. We did a walkthrough late that morning, then came back to the hotel. I knew that Sunday was going to be a long day - kickoff wasn't until around 6:30 p.m. ET - so I held off on conducting our last unit meetings until Sunday, before the team meal.

On Sunday morning, I was drinking coffee and looking over the game plan again before heading out, and my daughter, Keegan, who was about nine at the time, came up to me to jump on my lap, as she'd done hundreds of times before. From out of nowhere, my wife, Kim, intercepted her, like a Secret Service agent taking a bullet for the president. But it was OK. I wouldn't say I was relaxed, exactly, but by then, I was confident.

When I left for the stadium Sunday, there wasn't much left to say. Kim smiled, and kissed me goodbye, and told me, "Good luck, and we love you." I took the late bus out to the stadium, and got there a couple of hours before kickoff.

We'd prepared the players for the odd schedule, and the lengthy wait in the locker room before going back out to start the game.

"Guys," I said, a few minutes before we headed out for the kickoff. "I want you to take a second. Look around at the guys next to you, the people who've helped you get here. Take a moment to let this sink in. Hold on to this moment. Because whether we win or lose, two minutes after this is over, everything's going to change."

Then we went out on the field and the game began. And then - and only then - it became just another football game.

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See The Trophies
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