Scandal at the Games: 8 Most Notorious Super Bowl Moments

From a flubbed "Star-Spangled Banner" to a descent into darkness, some of the Bowl's biggest blunders

Photo: David Drapkin/AP

Sunday’s Super Bowl brings a chance for true greatness – it also opens the doors for spectator sports’ next epic failure.

In the big game’s 49 years, some real bonehead moves have punctuated the the hugely watched event. For every time Beyoncé slays her halftime show, fellow diva Christina Aguilera might stumble over the words of the national anthem. And for every magical, gravity-defying play, there’s a “wide right” field goal miss just a foot away.

Behold some of the most notorious Super screw-ups from the big game …

Nipplegate (2004)

Remember the Super Bowl halftime show when Kid Rock offended everyone by slashing an American flag to wear as a poncho? … No? Ah, yes, it’s because one ill-advised rip of fabric rocketed Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson toward infamy, lawsuits and a lifelong association with the term “wardrobe malfunction.”

The Blackout (2013)

Super Bowl XLVII could have been a victorious return to the New Orleans Superdome after the wreckage of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Instead, it was a for-the-ages technical snafu. But, hey, Oreo came out ahead.

Christina Aguilera Flubs the "Star-Spangled Banner" (2014)

“And now to honor America…” by skipping an entire line of its national anthem (and the one about ramparts, no less!). Make no mistake, Xtina’s voice was on-point, but her memorizing skills weren’t quite up to snuff. Best just to watch Whitney’s version.

Counter Color (1992)

After New Kids on the Block kick-started the tradition of superstar Super Bowl performers in 1991, Gloria Estefan had the unenviable task of shilling for the ’92 Winter Olympics, which started 13 days later, during that year’s CBS halftime show. In a brilliant move, FOX gave viewers an alternative in the form of a football-themed live episode of In Living Color. Not only was it the show’s highest-rated episode ever, the counterprogramming forced halftime producers to reconsider their idea of mainstream entertainment.

Gisele Drops an F-Bomb (2012)

Spoil sport? After a disappointing loss for her husband Tom Brady, Brazilian beauty Gisele Bünchden went off on her quarterback husband’s New England Patriots teammates, snarking, “My husband cannot f—ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time!”

M.I.A.’s Middle Finger (2012)

When a legend like Madonna takes the Super Bowl stage, all eyes should be on her … right? Instead, the British rapper stole the show with a single digit. Her Madgesty later dismissed the gesture as “such a teenager irrelevant thing to do,” but it was clear the only person to “strike a pose” that stuck in viewers’ minds was M.I.A.

Bumble, Oh Bills (1991)

Buffalo Bills’ placekicker Scott Norwood had one job: get the ball between the uprights. We say “had” because he decisively biffed a 47-yard field goal attempt that caused the Bills to lose by a single point. Three more back-to-back-to-back losses for the team followed – not to mention pop-culture infamy for Norwood and his “wide right” kick.

Joe Namath (2014)

Never has a coin toss been so botched. Yet with such style!

This year’s Super Bowl XLIX coverage kicks off Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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