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Posted at 12:43 PM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Super Bowl: Best non-football moments ever from Super Bowl Sundays past

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly

Terry Tate (aka Lester Speight), office linebacker. (Reebok)

Before the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers battle for the title of Super Bowl XLV champs -- and before we're subjected to the sight of Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne in a Best Buy commercial -- let's pause for a bit of list-oriented Super Bowl nostalgia.

Today we offer our rundown of some of the best moments from Super Bowls past -- from finest halftime show to, of course, the best commercial featuring an office linebaker. We did our best to be definitive, but odds are we left out something important. So by all means rectify any oversights by posting a comment about your favorite Super Bowl moment.

Related content:

A Super Bowl game plan for the non-football fan

The post-Super Bowl slot: The best and worst TV it's given us

Lea Michele to sing at Super Bowl

Best halftime show: Prince
There have been some decent Super Bowl halftime shows in recent years -- both U2's and Bruce Springsteen's come to mind. But no one has outdone Prince, who commanded the stage at Miami's Dolphin Stadium and delivered a medley that included his own hits ("Let's Go Crazy," "Baby, I'm a Star") as well as scorching covers of "All Along the Watchtower" and, in a particularly delicious surprise, the Foo Fighters' "Best of You." The fact that it was raining didn't dampen his, or our, enthusiasm. In fact, it only made "Purple Rain" that much more majestic. Note to the Black-Eyed Peas, who will perform at halftime this Sunday: This man set the bar. Good luck meeting it.

Best wardrobe malfunction: Janet Jackson, with an assist from Justin Timberlake
We're still not quite sure what possessed Justin Timberlake to pull off a patch of leather loosely velcroed over Miss Jackson's right breast, but -- as it turns out -- both Jackson and Timberlake were able to live down the 2004 moment. Seven years later, we're more interested in JT's turn as Napster founder Sean Parker in "The Social Network" and Jackson's attempt to cope with the loss of her brother. And CBS, which ended up with a record FCC fine of $550,000, survived, and even still manages to produce smash hit "Two and a Half Men," starring that wholesome Charlie Sheen.

Here's a clip of the nip slip seen round the world. (Obviously, slightly NSFW, though it was on national prime time TV, so who are we to censor?):

Best Super Bowl tradition that involved beer bottles wearing helmets: The Bud Bowl

The Bud Bowl, a series of commercials that pitted bottles of Bud against bottles of Bud Light in an epic, annual pseudo-football game that ran nearly every year from 1989 to 1997. Sure, it was stupid. But it was a tradition. And it also gave Super Bowl viewers another pair of teams to root for, or (cough) bet money on.

Best pre-Super Bowl national anthem: Whitney Houston 1991
Before "Being Bobby Brown," before addiction consigned her career to the dust bin of history, Whitney Houston could seriously sing. In 1991, 10 days after the beginning of the Gulf War, Houston brought down the house (the house being Tampa Stadium and our rec rooms) with her utterly stirring rendition of the "The Star Spangled Banner." And she doesn't just nail it; she makes it look easy. The recording was released as a single and reached the top 20 on the U.S. Hot 100. We dare you to watch without getting chills and/or goosebumps:

Best indirect invocation of Lindsay Lohan's reputation: E*TRADE's baby ad
Lindsay Lohan, who is apparently super-sensitive (she was annoyed at a recent poke at her by Gwyneth Paltrow on "Glee," too) actually attempted to take legal action against E*TRADE for a 2010 ad featuring that featured the financial service company's trademark talking baby making reference to "that milkaholic Lindsay." Lohan unceremoniously dropped the suit in September, with TMZ claiming that she did indeed make some money from the incident.

Best counter-programming: The Puppy Bowl
Take the genius that was Bud Bowl, switch out the beer bottles for adorable puppies and voila! You've got Discovery Channel's annual cuddly attempt at football counter-programming -- basically hours and hours of doggies playing in a mini-stadium, complete with a bottom-of-the-water-bowl cam. So what if it's entirely possible that they've been using the same dog footage for the past three years? It's still a cuter diversion than the Butt Bowl (much as we love "Beavis and Butthead") or that "Fear Factor" debacle from 2003. This year's bowl kicks off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. Here's a peek at the starting line-up:

Best Super Bowl commercial featuring football in the office: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker
What could possibly be better than watching a linebacker slamming into listless corporate drones? Not much. Which is why we totally heart the commercial that debuted during 2003's Super Bowl. Watch as Tate (aka football player/actor Lester Speight) tackles co-workers, drops an "Office Space" TPS report reference and pauses in mid-rampage to say "hey" to Janice.

Best post-Super Bowl episode of TV: The premiere of "The Wonder Years"
As noted during yesterday's item about post-Super Bowl television, no show delivered a more promising and moving debut after the big game than the airing of this 1988 pilot, in which little Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper shared their first big kiss. Sure, a little sappy for what's supposed to be a stereotypically "manly man" night. But at least Kevin was wearing a New York Jets jacket.

Best halftime performance for predicting that Steven Tyler would eventually sell out and appear on a show like "American Idol": The 2001 performance.

That was the year Aerosmith teamed up with Britney Spears and 'N Sync. Or, as traditionalists call it, the day the rock music died.

Best Super Bowl commercial to feature a basketball legend and Bugs Bunny: The Air Jordan ad from 1992.

The marriage of Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes was pretty genius. Granted, the genius stopped once it led to "Space Jam." But still...

Sexiest Super Bowl commercial: Cindy Crawford drinks Pepsi, hotly: These days, ad agencies go to ridiculous extremes to inject sexual energy (if not downright smut) into their Super Bowl spots. (Please see the Go Daddy commercials.) But back in '92, Crawford did sexy the right way, by simply drinking a soda at the height of her supermodel powers.

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly  | February 4, 2011; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture, TV  | Tags:  Super Bowl  
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Next: Gwyneth Paltrow, Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore to perform at the Oscars

Comments

I'm surprised by how well the Bud Bowl spots have held up over the years. Maybe it's the cheesy stop-motion animation.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | February 4, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Whitney Houston lip sync cause she was too afraid she would mess up.

Posted by: mac7 | February 4, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Shock: Super Bowl - snow and ice in Dallas - 7plus7. net>
Obama: Mubarak go away> Cyclone destroys everything
> Mubarak fled to Israel

Posted by: 7plus7net | February 4, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Islamic Republic of Egypt
Shock: Super Bowl - snow and ice in Dallas - 7plus7. net>
Obama: Mubarak go away> Cyclone destroys everything> Mubarak fled to Israel

Posted by: 7plus7net | February 4, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Superbowl XXXVIII at the Reliant Stadium in Houston had a superb stunt in the pre-game show. B.A.S.E. jumpers dropped off the tri-chords near the roof and flew bright yellow parachutes with the Aerosmith logo down to the field, with the last one landing just as Aerosmith finished performing "Dream On". That stunt was amazing, and was totally eclipsed by JJ's stupid boob stunt.

Not only was the stunt amazing, but the video with the crowd roaring in an unmistakable crescendo and the flash of cameras increasing in step was really noteworthy. The video should have made it on this list. Shame on the producers for overlooking that great stunt (as everyone else did, just because there was a boob at half-time...)

Posted by: karent763 | February 6, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

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