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The moments that changed the world for every football fanbase

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Pro football carries a treasure trove of unforgettable moments, with each team boasting a rich history of triumphs and heartbreaks. From last-minute touchdowns to drafting a franchise quarterback, these are the moments that have forever impacted the game and changed the world of every football fanbase.


Atlanta’s first ever SB appearance was during the 1998 season. But the moment that really shook the world of Falcons fans was the team's appearance in SB 51 in 2017 versus New England. Atlanta dominated the first half with a 28-3 lead, but Brady and New England stormed back in the second half with a historic comeback sending the game into overtime. Sadly, for Atlanta fans they suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime 34-28, as New England capped off one of the best comebacks in SB history.


When it comes to Baltimore football history, both the Mile High Miracle and their SB Championship in 2012 certainly jump out as a game-changing moment. But the moment that truly changed the world for Baltimore fans was in 1996, when the franchise re-located to Baltimore from Cleveland to become the Ravens and bring football back to the city for the first time since the Colts' departure in 1984. Baltimore would go on to win their first SB in the 2000 season led by Ray Lewis, just four years after they came back to the city.


Buffalo has been home to a franchise that has experienced no shortage of winning seasons. However, they are the only team that has ever reached the SB four times in a row and failed to win any of those games. Those four consecutive SB losses still haunt fans to this day. Yet the fan base remains strong and hungry for wins, initiating its members into the “Mafia” as they call it by throwing each other through tables.

Carolina (Charlotte)

In only their second season as a franchise Carolina, and head coach Dom Capers, finished the regular season with a 7-9 record yet somehow made the playoffs. In the postseason, they first took down the defending champ Dallas, and went on to face Green Bay in the Conference Championship. Although they fell short of reaching the SB, advancing that far in just the team’s second season was a remarkable accomplishment that helped establish them as a force to be reckoned with in the league. Since then, Carolina has advanced to the SB twice, but their early success and playoff run in the 1995 season truly stands out as a game-changing moment for its fans.


In 1985, led by the infamous Coach Ditka and powered by what has been called “the greatest defense in NFL history,” Chicago routed New England in the SB by a score of 46-10. The team's dominant performance in the big game personified how dominant they truly were all season long. The team was a cultural phenomenon that took the country by storm and their "SB Shuffle" made them legendary. It’s worth noting they drafted both Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers in the first round of the 1965 draft and both would go on to become hall of famers enshrined as the “Monsters of the Midway.”


Cincinnati has still yet to win a SB, but they have put together some truly unforgettable seasons, and none more so than in 1988. Led by Boomer Esiason, Cincinnati reached their second SB and squared off against San Francisco and the legendary Joe Montana. Sad to say for Cincy fans they lost the game in a brutal fashion and that game has become legendary and is remembered for Joe Montana’s late game heroics to win it all. That was the same season running back Ickey Woods popularized the "Ickey Shuffle" touchdown celebration. For better or worse, 1988 certainly gave Cincinnati fans a lasting impression.


You don’t have to think very long to identify the moments that rocked the franchise in Cleveland. In 1995, their team owner moved them to a new city in a different state and they would become the Baltimore Ravens. It was a sad, dark moment for Cleveland football when they lost the Browns. But the city and fans fought for their team and luckily, they didn’t have to wait too long as the expansion Browns rejoined the league three seasons later. Football coming back to Cleveland was a victory for the city and fans and yet another moment that changed the world for fans.


There is a plethora of game-changing moments that have greatly impacted Dallas fans throughout history. It would be easy to point to their legendary SB Wins in the 1970’s where they were led by Roger Staubach and coined the term Hail Mary. It might be even easier to call out their three SB Wins in the 1990s. But we’re going to give it to a business transaction instead. In 1989, Jerry Jones bought the team, then hired Jimmy Johnson as coach and laid the foundation that helped the team win 3x SBs in the 1990’s and propelled the franchises to ultimately become known as America’s Team and sits atop the list of the most valuable franchises in sports.


Denver’s football world was changed forever when John Elway became their Quarterback. He led the team to five SB appearances and won back-to-back championships in 1998 and 1999. Elway set the standard for excellence and toughness that Denver football is built around at its core. For some younger folks, they might see the signing of Peyton Manning in 2012 as most impactful and it certainly was. Peyton brought Denver back to the SB twice, winning it once to help solidify his position as one of the top quarterbacks of all-time.


Some people know Detroit for their annual Thanksgiving Game. True fans know that Detroit won four NFL championships before the AFL-NFL merger, but their last championship was back in 1957. While all notable, there is one thing that stands out from the rest in the heart of a Lion – the retirement of Barry Sanders. Playing for Detroit his whole career, Sanders was one of the greatest running backs in NFL history rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons. Disappointing for many, Sanders abruptly retired in 1999 while still in the prime of his career and to this day many Detroit fans have still not gotten over it.

Arizona (Glendale)

Arizona’s team is the oldest in the league, but it’s never won a championship. Recent moments include the Hail Murray play against Buffalo in 2020 that saw DeAndre Hopkins catching a heave from Kyler Murray in the end zone giving Arizona the 32-30 win. Or their unexpected run to the SB in 2008. But none of those moments would’ve happened if not for the team’s formation and move to Arizona from St. Louis in 1988. For the first time the city of Phoenix and the state of Arizona had their own football team – and it would change their world forever.

Green Bay

Green Bay has one of the most stories histories in football. They have experienced many game-changing moments through the years. Of course, there’s the Vince Lombardi Era, the very first SB, the infamous “ice bowl”, and the original creation of the Lambeau leap. And there’s also Brett Favre and his SB win and Aaron Rodgers and his SB win – so many incredible moments! But there is another that stands apart and it’s unlike any other team: In 1923, Green Bay was incorporated and became a community owned team, making them the league’s only publicly owned franchise. This unique ownership structure and tight roots within their own community make football in Green Bay something special and different from anywhere else.


Houston is the newest team having entered the league in 2002 as an expansion franchise. In their brief history, they have made the postseason several times but have yet to move past the divisional round. They have developed some great young offensive players like Andre Johnson and DeShaun Watson. But in their short history, no one has been more impactful for fans both on and off the field than JJ Watt. From 2012-2015, JJ Watt was the most dominant defensive player in the game winning three straight defensive player of the year awards, while redefining how you play the position. At the same time, Watt has been Awarded League Man of the Year for his philanthropic work off the field and his service to his community. Watt has helped changed the world of Houston fans in a truly unique way both on and off the field.


The Colts history in Indianapolis began with their move from Baltimore in 1984. This marked a new chapter for the franchise and changed the world for a city that never had football before. Years later, Indianapolis would change its trajectory forever by selecting quarterback Peyton Manning with the first draft pick overall in 1998. The quarterback went on to lead the team to 11 playoff appearances, its first SB win in 26 years, and became of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the sport.


Jacksonville entered the league in 1995, and unbelievably they reached the playoffs in four of their first five seasons. The credit largely goes to head coach, Tom Coughlin, who helped deliver one of the best starts for any franchise in football history over his tenure. Hiring Coughlin for the young franchise changed their world for the better and that happened in just their second season when they made a surprising run to the Conference Championship Game, where they ultimately fell to New England.

Kansas City

In the 2017 draft, Kansas City selected Patrick Mahomes in the first round – the rest is history. In 2020, Mahomes helped deliver KC their first SB victory in 50 years. Mahomes’ athleticism and unique gameplay earned him the MVP award and inspired other quarterbacks to adopt similar techniques. Since then, the quarterback has built upon that early success, playing in three SB’s, winning two, while establishing KC as a league powerhouse every single season. Mahomes changed the world of every KC fan, and they love him for it.

Las Vegas

This team has multiple SB victories to its credit (1976, 1980, 1983) and many iconic plays in its history books (for better or worse), including the “immaculate reception,” the “holy roller,” and the “tuck rule,” but perhaps its most world changing habit is its tendency to move the team and its fan base accordingly to different cities. After many successful seasons in Oakland, Al Davis moved the team to Los Angeles in 1982, then back to Oakland in 1995, with the team ultimately relocating to Las Vegas and a brand-new stadium this past season. While we can’t speak for its previous cities, we know Las Vegas is happy to have them now.

Los Angeles (Rams)

The Rams and the LA fans just got a recent championship under their belts, but they also have an impressive history from when they were still in St. Louis. Quarterback Kurt Warner led the team to a conference-best 13-3 record on the way to a championship victory over Tennessee in 2000. Two years later, the team had evolved into The Greatest Show on Turf but ultimately came up just short of another ring due to coming up against Tom Brady. Regardless, the St Louis team set the bar high for the team to compete for the playoffs every year instead of being a regular bottom-dweller.

Los Angeles (Chargers)

Although the Chargers played their inaugural season in Los Angeles, they moved to San Diego in 1961, where they spent most of their existence and built one of the most passionate fan bases in the league. They enjoyed football fun in the sun in San Diego for many years until the team couldn’t come to an agreement with the city for a new Stadium – and they jetted back to Los Angeles (who now had two teams). Sadly, this left San Diego with no teams and forever changed the lives of devoted Chargers.


A quintessential part of Miami football history and their biggest moment was 1972’s perfect season, which included a SB win. To this day, Miami remains the only team in the league’s history to accomplish this feat, which fans across the league look to as a symbol of excellence and the pursuit of perfection. This was greatness that would not be achieved again. Not in Miami by Dan Marino, not anywhere by anyone


Minnesota enjoyed great success in the 1970s making several appearances in the SB. In more recent years, they set the football world on fire with “The Minneapolis Miracle”, a thrilling 2018 playoff game vs New Orleans where QB Case Keenum found Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown as time expired, giving the Vikings a 29-24 win. But nothing changed the world of Minnesota fans quite like the selection of Randy Moss in the 1983 Draft. Moss had a spectacular rookie season in 1998, helping the Vikings to a 15-1 regular-season record. He would go on to become one of the greatest wide receivers in league history and really was the pioneer prototype in the development of today’s modern wide receiver.

Tennessee (Nashville)

The move to Tennessee left the city of Houston heartbroken and changed the world for the better for football fans in Nashville. But Tennessee was also behind one of the most iconic plays in post-season league history during the 2000 AFC Wild Card. Tennessee executed an amazing trick play on a kick return that involved multiple lateral passes and a bunch of luck that ultimately led Kevin Dyson’s game-winning TD. This was an unforgettable play that set the tone for the Titans’ time in Tennessee.

New England (Foxborough)

With the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, New England selects Tom Brady, quarterback, Michigan. From 2001 to 2019, the team never had a losing record, appearing in 10 SBs, and winning six titles under Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. Tom Brady is widely regarded as the greatest quarterback in NFL history and has not only completely changed the world for New England fans – he’s been changing the world of all NFL fans for many years now.

New Orleans

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, causing extensive damage, and leaving the stadium unusable. The following year, the team made a return to its home stadium and secured a victory in the first game back. It boosted the morale of a city still rebuilding from the disaster. New Orleans would win the SB and the team’s first championship four seasons later. The impact of Hurricane Katrina itself changed the world in a bad way for fans in New Orleans. But thanks to Drew Brees, the epic recovery and road back to glory was storybook.

New York (Jets)

The city of New York never sleeps, and it also never dies in a football game. In one of the boldest statements in sports history Broadway Joe Namath guaranteed and delivered victory in SB III for the Jets vs the heavily favored Colts. More recently, the Jets signed Aaron Rodgers another big time QB as a free agent and potential savior for the 2023 season Unfortunately the football gods had something else in mind for the Jets as Rodgers got hurt on the first offensive series of the first game, ending his season – so unfortunately the Jets will likely have to wait another season for a chance at more SB heroics.

New York (Giants)

Not to be outdone, the Giants were trailing by four points against undefeated New England in a SB showdown. Nobody expected the Giants to win that game, but quarterback Eli Manning scrambled out of trouble in the pocket and lobbed the ball down the field to David Tyree in the closing minutes. Tyree barely pulled it in with one hand and his helmet, securing the first down and eventually leading to the huge upset and an unexpected celebration for New York. Manning and the Giants came back to the SB a few years later and defeated Brady and the Patriots once again.


The Eagles changed the course of the franchise and won their first SB in the 2017 season, defeating New England in the SB, 41-33. Nick Foles, filling in for the injured Carson Wentz, was the SB MVP as he helped execute the now famous "Philly Special," a trick play where Foles caught a touchdown pass on fourth down. The Eagles have been doing a lot of winning since.


Few plays are as notorious as Pittsburgh’s Immaculate Reception. The team was trailing by one with 22 seconds left in a playoff matchup against Oakland. On fourth down, quarterback Terry Bradshaw was forced to scramble before he launched a ball deep downfield in hopes of getting in field goal range before time expired. At first it looked like the pass was hopelessly deflected backward, but rookie Franco Harris was in the perfect place to snatch the ball out of the air and run it all the way for a game-winning touchdown. This would set the positive tone for the successful years to follow where Pittsburgh would win an unprecedented four SBs in a six-year span.

San Francisco

In the 1981 conference championship, San Francisco played against a Dallas team that had dominated everyone it faced up to that point. With less than a minute left, quarterback Joe Montana lobbed a pass to receiver Dwight Clark, who leapt to make the grab and score the game-winning touchdown. The team went on to win SB that year and kick off the start of its golden era, where they would win a few more SBs with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice at the helm - and the play would forever be known as “The Catch.”


The Legion of Boom era in Seattle was iconic and changed the game for Seattle football. Their hard-hitting defensive group led by Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas propelled the team to a dominant 43-8 SB victory over Denver. Second, it solidified Seattle as a formidable team that nobody wanted to face. If it wasn’t for a goal line interception the following year against New England in the last seconds of the SB, this squad would have been back-to-back champions.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay shocked many when it signed free agent Tom Brady after his massive success in New England. With high hopes and a new leader, the team won its first title since 2003 in Brady’s first season with the team. During his short tenure in Tampa Bay, Brady broke multiple team records and set a standard for future franchise success. Brady didn’t just change the world for fans in Tampa, he did it in less than a year.

Washington D.C.

Washington is one of the league’s oldest franchises and has won a bunch of SBs over the years, in particular during the 80s and early 90s which included Doug Williams' 1988 SB championship victory. This win was a significant moment in football history, as he became the first African American quarterback to play, and win, in the SB. His achievement opened doors for future generations of Black quarterbacks. But there likely isn’t anything that changed the world for Washington fans as much as their rebranding to the Washington Football Team, and then the Washington Commanders.

With so many plays in the histories of these franchises, there are plenty more that could have made this list. And the magic of football could lead to a historic transformation for any of these teams at any time, so stay tuned because you may witness the next iconic moment during your lifetime as a football fan!

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