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What makes Super Bowl special?

SUPER BOWL: THE BIGGEST SHOW ON EARTH: Saturday, 5 February on BBC 1, 1300-1330, repeated Monday, 7 February 2305-2335 and on iPlayer
SUPER BOWL XLV: Green Bay Packers v Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, 6 February at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas - Watch live on BBC 1 and on the BBC Sport website (UK only) from from 2245; listen live on 5 live and 5 live sports extra

NFL cheerleaders

Michael Johnson welcomes Super Bowl to Dallas

Michael Johnson on Usain Bolt
By Michael Johnson
Former 200m and 400m Olympic champion and member of the Super Bowl XLV host committee

Since I was a kid, the Super Bowl has always been huge, the big game to decide the championship of American football, on the same Sunday every year.

These days, though, the Super Bowl is much more than just a game - it is a National Holiday.

That is why, despite being a huge fan, despite the game taking place in a fantastic new 100,000-seat stadium in my hometown of Dallas, despite the fact I am on the host committee, I will be watching with my friends and family at home.

American football is a very complex game with lots of rules but this year's game will be exciting for everyone watching

Dallas has always had a strong relationship with the Super Bowl as the Dallas Cowboys have played in eight of them - a record that will be equalled by the Pittsburgh Steelers when they face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.

I remember the Cowboys playing in five Super Bowls in the 1970s. When we played football in the street I was always the wide receiver Drew Pearson, who caught the famous "Hail Mary" pass from quarterback Roger Staubach.

The Cowboys had a bad spell in the 1980s and by the time they got back to the Super Bowl - winning three in four years in the 1990s - I was in the middle of my own professional career.


The difference between the Super Bowl and the Athletics World Championship or the championship of any other American sport is that you know the day when the champion is going to be crowned.

Major athletics events take place over a week, basketball or baseball championships are decided in a seven-game series but everyone knows when the Super Bowl is.

People hold parties and watch with friends - 53.6 million watched on TV in the US alone last year. The European Champions League final is the only one-day event that is more widely watched globally.

Events began in Dallas on Tuesday, with the players taking part in Media Day, and more fans are coming to town every day, despite the huge, unseasonable ice storm that hit on Tuesday and closed the airport for a time.

The temperature is expected to improve by game day, though, and the stadium is enclosed so things will be back to normal by game time.

Cowboys legend Troy Aikman on 'adrenaline rush' of Super Bowl

Headed by Roger Staubach, the host committee has been working for three years to put the event on. Cowboys Stadium is the centrepiece but the hardest part of preparation is dealing with 100,000 people coming to town, dealing with traffic, moving people, keeping them safe and entertained.

American football is a very complex game with lots of rules but this year's game will be exciting for everyone watching.

I would normally be happy to make a prediction in the week before the game but I really do not know who will win this one.

A lot of people are tipping Pittsburgh to win their third title in six years, because they have more experience. Their strength is their great defence but they have a good offence to back it up.

Green Bay have a high-powered offence and throw the ball a lot but their defence has improved this year, helping them to upset wins over Atlanta and Chicago in the play-offs.

The Packers are the underdogs, they have nothing to lose in this game, and there is something to be said for that.

Michael Johnson was speaking to BBC Sport's Martin Gough

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see also
Famous fans make Super Bowl picks
04 Feb 11 |  American Football
NFL facing post-Super Bowl challenges
04 Feb 11 |  Business
Packers win thrilling Super Bowl
07 Feb 11 |  American Football
Super Bowl XLV photos
06 Feb 11 |  American Football
BBC gears up for Super Bowl
31 Jan 11 |  American Football
NFL fixtures
05 Jan 08 |  American Football
NFL results
26 Oct 07 |  American Football
NFL standings
26 Oct 07 |  American Football
NFL in a nutshell
19 Oct 05 |  American Football

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