Ottis Anderson remembers a Super Bowl upset in Tampa 30 years ago

Super Bowl XXV was supposed to belong to the Buffalo Bills, a seven-point favorite over the New York Giants. But one veteran running back made a prediction that proved correct.

January 27, 1991; Super Bowl XXV; Tampa Bay, Florida. The Buffalo Bills were expected to defeat the New York Giants, who were led by back-up quarterback Jeff Hostetler and a stout defense.

Buffalo was loaded. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed led a dynamic offense, while the defense was fronted by Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Smith. The Giants defense was older but still formidable with linebackers Laurence Taylor along with Pepper Johnson.

The Giants also had destiny on their side coming from veteran running back Ottis ‘OJ’ Anderson, who had always believed he was meant to do something special in the state of Florida in the NFL after playing his college ball at the University of Miami.

Anderson delivered on his promise

“We had a meeting the night before the game,” Anderson recalled. “Me, Lewis Tillman, Dave Meggett, Lee Rouson, Maurice Carthon was all sitting around and I said to Lewis ‘you know who is going to win MVP?!’”

Needless to say Tillman did not believe Anderson, even though Anderson was a pseudo mentor to him. Bill Parcells had instructed Tillman to ‘stay close’ to the veteran Anderson to learn the running back ropes.

It was long before Anderson was a veteran that he had the premonition of a special Super Bowl Sunday in Florida. It happened back in college.

“I was at the University of Miami coming out,” Anderson said. “I was going to the Cardinals (St. Louis at the time), I predicted and I told my roommate Kenny Johnson that if I played in the Super Bowl in the state of Florida and I was the feature running back I’d win MVP.”

Anderson had thought he had missed his chance at winning MVP as the feature running back when the Giants lost the previous season to the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. The Super Bowl was in Miami that season so Anderson was especially disappointed after the game. Sitting at his locker dejected, Anderson was alerted by Carthon that the next year’s Super Bowl was in Tampa.

“We are going,” Anderson said.

Somehow, he was right. Anderson ended up carrying the ball 21 times for 102 yards and one touchdown in the Giants stunning 20-19 win. Scott Norwood famously pushed the would-be game-winning kick wide right, crushing Buffalo to this day. The Super Bowl MVP trophy was Anderson’s.

So, are there any Tampa Bay Buccaneers making bold predictions? Has Tom Brady had a dream that he would win his seventh Super Bowl in an upset wearing a different uniform?

Super Bowl upsets make great stories, even 30 years later. Anderson knows this better than most.

Ottis ‘OJ’ Anderson is working with Ottis Anderson is here on behalf of Novo Nordisk talking about his experience with type 2 diabetes and obesity and how he’s partnered with Novo Nordisk to advocate for and inspire others to be more proactive about their health.