The NFL’s Super Bowl has come a long way and will celebrate its 50th anniversary Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The game will be hosted in Santa Clara, Calif. at the home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers. A game that is usually characterized by roman numerals, the league specifically chose to change its name to Super Bowl 50 this year as the league celebrates this golden year anniversary. The Denver Broncos will face the Carolina Panthers, and the game will be one for the record books.
Many individuals, regardless if they are football fans or not, may not be aware of the entire history of how the Super Bowl became one of the biggest sporting events worldwide. The championship game was created for the National Football League (NFL) and, what was known before as its rival league, the American Football League (AFL). In each league, a champion would be determined, and both teams would face each other in what was known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. This occurred annually until there was a merger agreement to combine both leagues, which then began in 1970.
Following this merger agreement, both the NFL and AFL were distinguished as their own conference divisions. Both the NFL and the AFL had changed their names to the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) and together form the NFL. Since 1970, the Super Bowl games have all been a match between the NFC and the AFC championship teams. The NFC has a total of 26 Super Bowl wins, versus the AFC having 23 wins.
Each Super Bowl game is identified by a roman numeral, versus being distinguished by the year the game was played in. The first Super Bowl was played on Jan. 15, 1967, and instead of being named Super Bowl of 1967, it is known as Super Bowl I. Last year’s Super Bowl is known as Super Bowl XLIX. This year, the league decided to name the game Super Bowl 50 in order to celebrate this milestone.
Vince Lombardi Trophy
The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the major icon for the championship games. The trophy was named to honor Vince Lombardi, who was a legendary NFL coach. Lombardi coached the New York Giants as an offensive coordinator from 1954-58. Following that season, he became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959-67. The Packers won the first Super Bowl in 1967 under Lombardi, and that next year, he was appointed to be the general manager. Lombardi spent one more year as a head coach for the Washington Redskins in 1969. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the winning team and is currently held by last year’s champions, the New England Patriots, who won against the Seattle Seahawks with a score of 28-24. Since Super Bowl XLV in 2010, the Lombardi trophy has been used as the official logo and with the exception of this year, has always had the roman numeral of the game right under the trophy.
The annual championship game is always scheduled to play on the first Sunday of February. Based on the overall popularity and ratings of the game, Super Bowl Sunday has been considered and treated as an American holiday. It is also argued that the day consists of the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, with Thanksgiving ranked first. This championship game also has top-of-the-line ratings each year. Last year, the game had 114.4 million viewers. This was also the fifth time in a six-year span that the ratings beat their own previous records.
History of Super Bowl Wins
The first Super Bowl, which was also named the First World Championship Game – AFL vs. NFL, was played on Jan. 15, 1967 and was a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers won the game with a final score of 35-10. The game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) was awarded to Green Bay’s quarterback, Bart Starr. The game was hosted in Los Angeles, Calif. at the Memorial Coliseum, which is now used for the USC Trojans football team. The coliseum is now officially home to the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams existed from 1946-94, until a decision was made to relocate the franchise to St Louis, Mo., from 1995-2015. This upcoming season will be the first season the Rams will be back in Los Angeles.
In 49 years, there have been various teams that have won numerous championships. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently leading the league with six Super Bowl titles. The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers are tied with five titles. The Green Bay Packers, the New England Patriots, and the New York Giants all have four wins for their franchises.
Super Bowl 50
This year, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will be remembered for numerous reasons in this 50th year Super Bowl anniversary. Peyton Manning, who is the quarterback of the Broncos, has been in the media for ongoing rumors of his retirement at the conclusion of the season. Manning has won just one Super Bowl as an Indianapolis Colt in 2007 though he does have four AFC championship titles to his 18-year career. Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers quarterback, has only been in the NFL since 2011, but both quarterbacks were drafted in the first round and picked 1st overall in their NFL drafts. This will be his first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl XXXVIII, on Feb. 1, 2004, where they lost to the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning may end his career as a Super Bowl champ. Yet, Carolina is working on bringing home their first Super Bowl win in their franchise history.
By Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Cathy Milne and Jeanette Smith
Super Bowl History: The History of the Super Bowl
NFL: Super Bowl History
The Atlantic: A Brief History of ‘What Time Is the Super Bowl?’
Image Courtesy of Sonny Abesamis’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License