Seems I can think back to a simpler time; a time when Super Bowl Sunday wasn’t the selfish, end of season hype generator it is today; a time when our nation’s most widely televised game could share the spotlight with another omnipotent, if ever-juvenile, contest; a time when the stop-break mayhem of a beer bottle football game played ring master to America’s most coveted day of commercial programming.
Of course, I can only be talking about Bud Bowl, the Anheuser-Busch company’s slick marketing ploy which began in 1989 and featured what was billed to be an annual gridiron slugfest between animated teams of Bud and Bud Light bottles.
But I’m not just speaking in general terms here, people. I’m dedicating this article to the genuine article: The greatest Bud Bowl of them all, Bud Bowl III.
To me, this piece of stop-break goodness outshined all other beer-related sporting contests before and after its time. Part of the charm of Bud Bowl III was dependent on the fact that it consisted of a whopping seven ads placed strategically throughout the course of the actual Super Bowl game. That meant you were bound to be treated to an all-important Bud Bowl update nearly twice a quarter on average, instead of the pitiful two or three ad performances of more recent contests.
Also, it was a matchup that set the stage for a possible King of Beers three-peat. A win by Bud would have given them an unprecedented third Bud Bowl championship and an automatic seat in history next to the other dynastic legends of the adult-beverage sporting contest world. Ok, maybe there’s not much competition in this arena. So what?
At any rate, Bud Light wasn’t about to simply crack under the pressure. They had themselves a scrappy team, and past defeats had helped them develop quite a sizable chip on their, eh, shoulders. The addition of top draft pick and star quarterback, “Bud Dry,” also didn’t hurt in the way of boosting Light’s often watered-down confidence.
Aside from all the background hoopla that built Bud Bowl III up in terms of fan excitement, the game itself did not disappoint.
From the opening kickoff, which actually tallied at least 20 seconds on the hang-time meter before ascending out of the stadium, to a big opening drive that featured Bud Light linemen busting open a huge running lane with the aid of a giant-sized can opener, to the introduction of “helmet cam” strapped to the caps of Billy and Bobby Bud (the brothers from Cerveza, TX of course) on a nifty play-action catch and run to open up the King of Beer’s scoring, to the intoxicating play-by-play of ESPN legend Chris Berman, this installment of Bud Bowl had it all.
There was even an encore touchdown plunge by larger-than-life Bud bottle “The Freezer” and a sweet Hail Mary pass to a certain “long necked” Bud receiver to give the defending champs a 21-17 lead with just seconds to go.
But the final play of Bud Bowl III is what cemented it as a commercial masterpiece.
In a play eerily reminiscent of Tennessee’s homerun throwback play (which didn’t happen for another eight years. I think Jeff Fisher may have done a little advance scouting at the Anheuser-Busch facility), surprise kick returner, Bud Dry, collected the kickoff, made a nifty move, and pitched the ball across the field to one of his teammates.
This unidentified Bud Light bottle rumbled down the sidelines, dotted with gasping Budweiser players and coaches, and directly through an over zealous Budweiser team band prepared to celebrate what seemed like a sure Budweiser victory. Then he plowed into the end zone, even with a Tuba uncomfortably clinging to his thermos-chilled body, and gave Bud Light its first ever Bud Bowl championship by a score of 23-21.
By setting up a key TD play earlier in the contest, and through his heroics on the game winning kickoff return, Bud Dry was the clear MVP. True, he may have deserved it. But tell me, folks: Where is Mr. Fancy Pants Bud Dry today?
Discontinued, that’s where.
Regardless, we still have to give Bud Bowl III some love today for being the greatest string of stop-break folly to ever grace all those wasted minutes between Super Bowl drives. Have a look for yourself: