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Year of the Tiger? Power of the Groundhog?

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

The groundhog saw his shadow today which actually may mean something more than just a longer winter...

In 1887, the first official trip to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, PA. The results were positive if you like cold weather, as the groundhog saw his shadow and crawled back in his hole. Now before we continue down this path and relate this to football (keep reading…there is a football tie-in here) let’s jump back to 1723 for a little history lesson.

In 1723, a group of the Lenape Native Americans settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The Lenape’s considered groundhogs to be honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the Lenape’s, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.

When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of winter. A lit candle was placed in each window of the home. The day's weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between winter and spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

AP/Gene J Puska

Pennsylvania's official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The groundhog was given the name "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary'' and his hometown thus called the "Weather Capital of the World.'' His debut performance: no shadow - early spring.

The legendary first trip to Gobbler's Knob was made the following year.

So here we are, 135 years later with Groundhog Day upon us. How have the results been?

Shadow: 107 times (including today)

No Shadow: 20 times

No Record: 9 times

Now let's dig into some football and more specifically, the Super Bowl. Signs are pointing to place your bets on the underdog Cincinnati Bengals to take home the Lombardi trophy.

Since 2000, the groundhog has seen his shadow 16 times; the Super Bowl has been won by an AFC team 9 of those 16 times. Only a slight edge for the Bengals so let's keep digging.

Four times in NFL history, have two QB’s faced off against each other in the Super Bowl where one was born on a “no shadow” year and the other QB on a “shadow” year. The weird part is when the QB birth year and Super Bowl year groundhog results coincide with each other, that team is 3-1.

  • Super Bowl V (1970, no shadow seen by the groundhog) - Johnny Unitas beats Craig Morton.

  • Super Bowl XII (1977, shadow seen by the groundhog) - Roger Staubach beats Craig Morton.

  • Super Bowl XLV (2011, no shadow seen by groundhog) - Aaron Rodgers beats Ben Roethlisberger.

  • Super Bowl LIV (2020, no shadow seen by groundhog) - Patrick Mahomes beast Jimmy Garappolo.

Why do I bring this up? This year is the 5th occurrence...

  • Super Bowl LVI (2022, groundhog saw his shadow) Matthew Stafford (born in 1988, a no shadow year) faces off against Joe Burrow (born on a shadow year, 1996)

Still not convinced this is the Bengals year?

This is also the Chinese New Year, Year of the Tiger…and we have the Bengals in the Super Bowl. No “cat teams” in the NFL have ever won a Super Bowl and in fact, are 0-4 in their appearances. This will be the 5th time a cat mascot has appeared in the Super Bowl and the first time the appearance coincides with the Year of the Tiger in Chinese astrology.

Can the Bengals do what no cat team has ever done before? Or is this all just an odd coincidence?

Only time will tell.


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