TV Legends Revealed | Quantum Leap Predicted Super Bowl XXX?

allamericans1

TV URBAN LEGEND: An episode of Quantum Leap correctly predicted that the Pittsburgh Steelers would play in Super Bowl XXX.

One of the more common areas for potential urban legends is stories about films and television series set in the future that have seemingly predicted real-life events (coincidentally, of course). Sporting events seem to be particularly common examples of this phenomenon, but they almost always turn out to be bogus. I have debunked legends involving Seaquest supposedly predicting the Marlins winning the 2003 World Series and Back to the Future II allegedly predicting the 2015 existence of Ken Griffey III. So it didn’t surprise me when a reader wrote in to ask whether it was true that a 1990 episode of Quantum Leap predicted the outcome of 1996′s Super Bowl XXX. What was surprising was the truth about the episode. Read on to find out more!

The concept behind Quantum Leap was that scientist Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) developed a device known as the “Quantum Leap Accelerator” that would allow a person to travel back in time within their own lifetime. It was a government-funded project, and Rear Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) was the senior officer on the project. When Al discovers the government plans to withdraw funding, Sam decides to prove the project worked by entering the accelerator himself. Sam ended up traveling through time, taking the place of people at various points in history (while it would be Sam in the actual flesh, he would appear to everyone around him as if he were still the person whose place he took). He would only be able to “leap” to another point in time by “fixing” something in that time period that had gone “wrong” (this led Sam to theorize that something divine was guiding his trips). Al was the only one who could communicate with Sam, appearing to him as a hologram that only Sam could see and hear. The series ran from 1989 to 1993. Sam “leaped” back in time at some unnamed point in the near future, but it seems pretty clear it was 1995 when he first went back in time. So while Sam is traveling through time, for Al and the other Quantum Leap project workers, it is the years 1995 to 1999.

allamericansSo in the second season, Al would be in 1996. This is borne out in the episode “All-Americans” (which aired Jan. 17, 1990), where Sam “leaps” into a high school football star in 1962. Sam is there to convince one of his teammates to not throw the championship game (and thereby avoid ruining his chances for a college scholarship). Al disappeared from the episode for a while and then returned to Sam late in the championship game. Sam asked him where he had been and Al noted he was busy watching a different game, Super Bowl XXX, where Pittsburgh was trailing by 3 points.

And sure enough, six years later, when Super Bowl XXX actually took place in Tempe, Arizona, the match-up was the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the dramatic game saw the Steelers (who trailed 13-0 at one point) cut their deficit to 3 points, 20-17, and had the ball back with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter. Steelers quarterback Neil O’Donnell then threw his second interception of the game (leading to Dallas cornerback Larry Brown, who made both interceptions, becoming the first cornerback to be Super Bowl MVP) and the Cowboys held on to a 27-17 victory.

Now, obviously, the writers of the episode, Paul Brown and Donald P. Bellisario, did not ACTUALLY predict the game. It is just an amusing coincidence. Still, it is an interesting coincidence! I have occasionally seen arguments suggesting the prediction was especially impressive considering the Steelers had missed four of the last five postseasons at that point. While that’s accurate, it is a bit misleading, as the one season in the last five they had made the playoffs was the most recent season, the 1989 season. So if you were going to pick a team in 1989 to be in the Super Bowl in 1996, the Steelers were not a crazy choice.

A secondary legend I have seen is that Quantum Leap also predicted the Pittsburgh/Seattle match-up in Super Bowl XLII. That is not true.

As for the legend at hand, though, the legend is…

STATUS: Essentially True

Thanks to reader George for e-mailing me the suggestion! The rest of your readers, feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!

News From Our Partners

Comments

  • George

    HA! I’M NOT CRAZY!!!

    Thanks for responding and proving this true, Brian. No one I’ve ever told this too believed me.

  • Sentry616

    American football is the gayest thing i have ever seen and i was once in an all male gangbang backstage after a Broadway show.

  • LJW

    For someone who was in a gay orgy I’m not surprised when ever you see American football you see something gay, because that’s all that’s on your mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=48805881 Michael Fitz-Gibbon

    At least it isn’t soccer.

  • The Hey, Dude Kid

    You stay classy Sentry 616.

  • 010011010110101

    I’m not sure if Quantum Leap actually took place in the 1990′s there was one episode where Sam leaped into some criminal’s body, who then escaped into new mexico (or where ever the facility was) and picked up a hooker. Those unfamiliar might forget that when Sam leaped into someone else’s life, they leaped into his. Anyway, when the guy goes to the hotel room, there is some tech that is clearly meant to imply somewhere in the future. I believe there was some sort of holographic interface in the room or somethign like that. Really aside from the holographic interface, everything else was fairly reasonable based on tech at the time, and the sort of things we would now find common place, but assuming that QL was in a real world, not a world that was somehow radically more advanced than our own. So I always figured the time frame for the show, was sometime in the early aughts, or maybe teens.
    Of course Sam’s age is an issue in that, as he was born I believe sometime in the 50′s, and so is clearly a baby boomer, like Scott Baccula, so I would imagine, that based on that, the 1990′s time frame is perhaps accurate…but well, just a little internal inconsistancy I suppose.

  • ghost

    Nah, that one actually did have an on-screen date… and I remember, because actually it was a minor flub (because I believe it was February 1999… the problem being an EARLIER episode (the previous season finale or premiere or something) that the criminal episode sort of depended on (so you couldn’t just say the episodes were out of order) was explicitly set in something like July 1999. It should have been February 2000 (or maybe the other episode should have been 98).

    In any event, other than that flub it was consistent with the timeline laid out here, the future parts were set a few years ahead of the present date. I guess They were just pretty optimistic about the advances in technology and holography.

  • Cpl_Otter

    …and the clock keeps ticking in San Dimas.

  • 010011010110101

    yeah, I figured that out, the show started earlier than I thought. So 1999 was appropriate for the show given the minor leap in technology displayed.

  • Sentry616

    soccer is the second gayest competitive sport followed by ballroom dancing, rhythmic gymnastics and greco roman wrestling. Rugby league is where it’s at. And not rugby union, that shit’s for faggots.