Super Bowl Power Outage Brings Back Memories

To Boston fans, the blackout probably looked familiar.

After an atrocious start, the Super Bowl actually ended up being a damn good game. Still, for a lot of fans, the most memorable—and miserable, thanks to CBS’s decision to subject America to unhealthy doses of its studio analysts—part of it was a power outage. That’s right, on Sunday night, the Super Dome went dark, causing a 35-minute delay.

To New Englanders, the scene probably looked familiar. On January 12, 1997, during the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Jaguars, Foxboro Stadium went dark. Here’s how the Baltimore Sun remembered it:

An 11-minute delay in yesterday’s game occurred with 7:32 remaining in the second quarter when a fuse blew in a Massachusetts Electric power transformer on Route 1. The blown fuse interrupted service to parts of Foxboro Stadium. Crews from Massachusetts Electric were on site for yesterday’s game and responded to the problem.

Sixteen years later, watching the replay still makes me laugh. After all, old Foxboro was a bigger dump than most high school stadiums. I’m surprised that back then the power didn’t go out a few times a season. (The story above includes this nugget: “Quarterback Drew Bledsoe fretted that for the second consecutive game there was no hot water left when he got to the shower.”) Anyway, as Adam Vinatieri lined up for a field goal midway through the second quarter, you can hear Dick Enberg, who was on the call for NBC that afternoon, say, “We have a power failure!” Patriots coach Bill Parcells—who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer—looked exasperated.

That playoff power outage actually wasn’t unprecedented. Check out what happened during Game 4 of the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and Oilers. Boston Garden was plagued by both fog and a blackout.