Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots could be the most watched edition in the game’s illustrious history. Cheap seats at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. are going for $8,500. But the NFL’s championship wasn’t always so grand. Way back when, it took some convincing by the league to get The King of Pop to show up. In a truly captivating read, Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy recounts the evolution of the Super Bowl’s halftime show. Murphy specifically notes Michael Jackson’s involvement in Super Bowl XXVII being a game-changing moment in how the halftime performance is viewed today — and how it almost never happened.
For a month they got nowhere. [The NFL’s Jim] Steeg sat down with the King of Pop’s manager, Sandy Gallin, 11 months before Super Bowl XXVII. “I remember pitching them,” he says, “and them not really having a clue what we were talking about.” At a subsequent meeting, producer Don Mischer pointed out that the Super Bowl would be broadcast in more than 120 countries. Now he had Jackson’s full attention.
Steeg recalls Jackson saying, “So you’re telling me that this show is going live to all those places where I’ll never do a concert?” A pause. “I’m in.”
“Michael worked harder than anybody [who’s done the halftime show], before or since,” says Steeg, who remembers seeing Jackson still rehearsing his act at seven the night before the game, in a tent outside the Rose Bowl.
And it showed. Jackson, rocking a bandolier-draped frock coat on loan, apparently, from Muammar Gaddafi, was sensational. The final moments of that show were the most viewed in the history of television at the time.