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Sunday, 31 January, 1999, 16:31 GMT
Super Bowl XXXII: underdog vs ex-underdog
Superbowl XXXII: Green Bay Packers vs Denver Broncos
Superbowl XXXII: Green Bay Packers vs Denver Broncos
It's Super Bowl time again, the high point of the American Football season, when the champions of the country's two parallel leagues, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) meet to decide who is the best.

American Football game
It's only a game!
To the uninitiated, an American Football match may look like an organised pub brawl which has spilled over into a stadium. To its fans it is the ultimate team sport: hard, fast and at the same time as sophisticated as a chess match.

This year's game, Super Bowl XXXII, is a fight of underdog against ex-underdog, as the Denver Broncos meet the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, January 25, in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium (kickoff at 15:18 local time, 23:18 GMT).

The Packers

A few years ago, the Packers had all the characteristics necessary to pass as 'Davids'.

They hail from a small town on the icy shores of Lake Michigan. The team is not owned by multi-millionaire media moguls but by the citizens of Green Bay, Wisconsin. And it was nearly 30 years ago that they last won a Super Bowl, under their legendary coach Vince Lombardi.

But over the last two years, the Green Bay Packers have had to get used to the role of 'Goliath' in American Football.

At the end of the '95/'96 season they were runners-up in the play-offs for the NFC championship. The following season they made their breakthrough, reaching Super Bowl XXXI and defeating the New England Patriots 35-21.

Now they say they are fit for a back-to-back victory.

Still smiling: the Broncos get ready to play
The Broncos

Nobody, however, will dispute that their opponents deserve the tag of underdog. Four times the Denver Broncos have made it to the Super Bowl. Four times they have lost.

This is their fifth chance to prove themselves. If that were not pressure enough, they have to cope with the hopes of their conference. It is more than a decade ago that an AFC team took home the Super Bowl trophy, when the Los Angeles (now Oakland) Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.

The quarterbacks

A football team is only as good as its quarterback. Quarterbacks are central to a team's 'offense'. They direct their team's every move across the field, and pass the ball to the player who has the best chance of carrying the ball closer to the opponent's 'endzone', where the points are scored.

The Packers and the Broncos feature two of the game's finest quarterbacks.

John Elway
John Elway has a trophy in his sight
Denver's John Elway is one of the most successful quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League (NFL), which encompasses both the AFC and NFC.

No other quarterback has won more games or has led so many fourth-quarter come-backs, and he engineered his team's record for the 'best regular season' in AFC history.

But there are three stains on John Elway's record sheet: He has led the Broncos to the Super Bowl on three previous occasions not winning any of them and acquiring the reputation that he 'can't win the big ones'.

The last time he battled for Super Bowl glory was in 1990. Elway is now 37 and past his prime as an athlete, a fact which he readily admits. But he insists that he is now a better quarterback, and that the Broncos fighting for Super Bowl XXXII are the best team he has ever played with.

Brett Favre
The Packers rely on the strength of Brett Favre's arm - and his skills at improvisation
The Packers' hopes rest on Brett Favre, 28. He is the NFL's three-time 'most valued player' and probably the league's best current quarterback. The defences of other teams fear Favre's throwing power and he is famed for his improvisation skills that come into play when a game plan goes wrong.

The Green Bay Packers have a special incentive to win: The Super Bowl trophy is named after Vince Lombardi, the coach who led their team to victory in Super Bowls I and II.

The Broncos's hunger for the title could be even greater: They want to get rid of the stigma of perpetual Super Bowl losers.

See also:

04 Jan 98 | Sport
12 Jan 98 | Sport
05 Jan 98 | Sport
23 Jan 98 | Super Bowl XXXII
Links to more Super Bowl XXXII stories are at the foot of the page.

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