MINNEAPOLIS — Twenty-six years later, Minnesota got it right: the hype, the parties, the logistics and the halftime entertainment. And as luck would have it, we got the game, too.
We even had a guy do a flip on Nicollet Mall on his snowmobile. Let's see you do that, Miami.
From Sunday to Sunday, anywhere from 125,000 to a million souls wandered through the Twin Cities for Super Bowl LII — depending on which set of projections you trust — and anyone who got on a plane to return home Monday will have nothing to say about Minnesota that we don't already say.
The winter weather can be rough, but you can't let it get in the way.
Certainly Sunday's weather — below zero at sunrise and sunset — didn't stop more than 70,000 people from filling U.S. Bank Stadium to witness one of the best Super Bowl games in recent memory, a 41-33 upset by the Philadelphia Eagles over the New England Patriots that wasn't decided until Tom Brady's final heave-ho pass into the end zone as time expired.
It was New England's eighth Super Bowl appearance since 2001, and the Patriots, as usual, were favored. The Eagles didn't stop Tom Brady, who was typically phenomenal, yet the Eagles and their backup quarterback, Nick Foles, were better.
It was a great show. Even Prince showed up, singing a duet with halftime headliner Justin Timberlake 17 months after his untimely death at his Paisley Park home. Some found it tasteless. Some found it moving. The real question is whether there is anything moving forward that Minnesota won't make about Prince.
When Timberlake, at a white grand piano, segued into Prince's "I Would Die 4 U," the late Prince Rogers Nelson was projected onto a large banner for a duet that was, frankly, a feat of engineering, logistics and arrangement. Fans, meanwhile, turned on purple and white pen lights to complete the effect.
Whether you thought it was appropriate or not, we can all agree it was better than the halftime show for Minnesota's first Super Bowl, a Jan. 26, 1992, meeting between the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome, the memory of which lies beneath the conspicuous girth of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Gloria Estefan headlined the halftime show, an abomination called "Winter Magic" that was so astonishingly out of touch with what qualified as entertainment that viewers were left rubbing their eyes and checking their calendars. It was introduced in a video by then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who declared Super Bowl XXVI a "statement about a great state and the energy and enthusiasm of its people."
It wasn't. It was a lousy game and lousy halftime show at a lousy stadium.
To add insult to injury, Tagliabue then told Minnesotans to enjoy "Winter Magic" because "it says a lot about all of you."
Estefan was joined by figure skaters Dorothy Hamill and Brian Boitano and dozens of dancing snowmen. The place that begat Dylan, Prince, the Replacements and the Bundt cake was portrayed as a Bob Hope Christmas special. A lot of people worked hard on that, God bless 'em, but it couldn't have made us look worse.
"Come to Minnesota, where the winter's the hottest time of the year!" Dorothy shouted.
No such pandering this time. Minnesota just put on a party, and it was so magnificent that J-Lo, Jessica Biel, Steph Curry and the gang from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" showed up. The bands on Nicollet Mall were local and cool — from local DJs to the Jayhawks — and we convinced people to zipline across the Mississippi River.
But we didn't try to shove winter, or ourselves, down anybody's throats. We didn't use the climate to define ourselves, and we didn't beg people to love us. It was just a great show.
The NFL made it back because Minnesota taxpayers put roughly $500 million into building the Vikings a new stadium, and it seems unlikely U.S. Bank Stadium will become part of the usual rotation of towns such as Miami, New Orleans and Los Angeles.
That would be a shame because Minnesota is one of the great NFL markets with one of its great stadiums in one of the great metropolitan areas. We showed this week that it can throw a party as well, or better, than anyone.