Official logo for Super Bowl XLVIII, which was played in East Rutherford, NJ in February 2014.

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game for the NFL. The winner of the AFC and NFC face off in a pre-determined location. The first superbowl was held in 1967. Since then it has became a tradition to play the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Before the official complete merger of the two rival leagues, which began with the 1970 season, the AFL-NFL Championship Game, was created prior to the 1966 season, upon an private clandestine meeting between AFL and NFL officials (initially without the knowledge of NFL Commisioner Pete Rozelle) that March, which resulting in the planned merger. The title game, a meeting between the respective champions of each league, would meet the next week, to decide the ultimate champion of American professional football. The defending champions, as of the 2020 season, are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winners of Super Bowl LV.

Roman numerals in Super Bowl names[edit | edit source]

The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 15, 1967, following the 1966 regular season, while the most recent game, Super Bowl LV, was played on February 7, 2021, to determine the champion of the 2020 NFL season.

The game, created as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival league, the American Football League (AFL, was agreed upon that the two leagues' champion teams would play in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the merger was to officially begin in 1970. After the merger, each league was redesignated as a "conference", and the game was then played between the conference champions. Currently, the NFC leads the series with 26 wins to 23 wins for the AFC.

Logo for the first AFL-NFL Championship Game beteween the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967, now known as "Super Bowl I".

The day on which the Super Bowl is played, now considered by some a de facto American national holiday,[1][2] is called "Super Bowl Sunday". It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day.[3] In addition, the Super Bowl has frequently been the most watched American television broadcast of the year. Super Bowl XLIX, played in 2015, became the most-watched American television program in history, drawing an average audience of 115 million viewers and taking over the spot held by the previous year's Super Bowl, which itself had taken over the #1 spot held for twenty-eight years by the final episode of M*A*S*H.[4] The Super Bowl is also among the most watched sporting events in the world, mostly due to North American audiences, and is second to association football (soccer)’s UEFA Champions League final as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide.[5]

Because of its high viewership, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year. Due to the high cost of investing in advertising on the Super Bowl, companies regularly develop their most expensive advertisements for this broadcast. As a result, watching and discussing the broadcast's commercials has become a significant aspect of the event.[6] In addition, many popular singers and musicians have performed during the event's pre-game and halftime ceremonies because of the exposure.

Game history[edit | edit source]

For a list of Super Bowl games and champions, see List of Super Bowl champions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, the most of any team; the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have five victories each; and both the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have four Super Bowls championships. Thirteen other NFL franchises have won at least one Super Bowl. Ten teams have appeared in Super Bowl games without a win. The Minnesota Vikings were the first team to have lost a record four times without a win. The Buffalo Bills played in a record four Super Bowls in a row, and lost every one. Four teams (the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans) have never appeared in a Super Bowl. The Browns and Lions both won NFL Championships prior to the Super Bowl's creation, while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) are both recent NFL expansion teams. The Minnesota Vikings won the last NFL Championship before the merger, but lost to the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV.

1960s: Early history[edit | edit source]

The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders following the 1966 and 1967 seasons, respectively. The Packers were led by quarterback Bart Starr, who was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for both games. These two championships, coupled with the Packers' NFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965, amount to the most successful stretch in NFL History; five championships in seven years. As owners of arguably the only true NFL dynasty, Green Bay, Wisconsin has been named Titletown, USA." [7][8]

In Super Bowl III, the AFL's New York Jets defeated the eighteen-point favorite Baltimore Colts of the NFL, 16–7. The Jets were led by quarterback Joe Namath (who had famously guaranteed a Jets win prior to the game) and former Colts head coach Weeb Ewbank, and their victory proved that the AFL was the NFL's competitive equal. This was reinforced the following year, when the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL's Minnesota Vikings 23–7 in Super Bowl IV.

1970s: Dominant franchises[edit | edit source]

After the AFL-NFL merger was completed in 1970, three franchises – the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers – would go on to dominate the 1970s, winning a combined eight Super Bowls in the decade.

The Baltimore Colts, now a member of the AFC, would start the decade by defeating the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, a game which is notable as being the only Super Bowl to date in which a player from the losing team won the MVP award (Cowboys' linebacker Chuck Howley).

The Cowboys, coming back from a loss the previous season, won Super Bowl VI over the Dolphins. However, this would be the Dolphins' final loss in over a year, as the next year, the Dolphins would go 14–0 in the regular season, and cap it off with a victory in Super Bowl VII, becoming the first and only team to finish an entire regular season and post season perfect. The Dolphins would win Super Bowl VIII a year later.

In the late 1970s, the Steelers became the first NFL dynasty of the post-merger era by winning four super bowls (IX, X, XIII, and XIV) in six years. They were led by head coach Chuck Noll, the play of offensive stars Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster, and their dominant "Steel Curtain" defense, led by "Mean" Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, and Jack Lambert. The coaches and administrators also were part of the dynasty's greatness as evidenced by the team's "final pieces" being part of the famous 1974 draft. The selections in that class have been considered the best by any pro franchise ever, as Pittsburgh selected four future Hall of Famers, the most for any team in any sport in a single draft. The Steelers were the first team to win three and then four Super Bowls and appeared in six AFC Championship Games during the decade, making the playoffs in eight straight seasons. Nine players and three coaches and administrators on the team have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pittsburgh still remains the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice and four Super Bowls in a six-year period.

The Steelers' dynasty was interrupted only by the Cowboys winning their second Super Bowl of the decade, and the Oakland Raiders' Super Bowl XI win.

1980s and 1990s: The NFC's winning streak[edit | edit source]

In the 1980s and 1990s, the tables turned for the AFC, as the NFC dominated the Super Bowls of the new decade and most of those of the 1990s. The NFC won 16 of the 20 Super Bowls during these two decades, including 13 straight from Super Bowl XIX to Super Bowl XXXI.

The most successful franchise of the 1980s was the San Francisco 49ers, which featured the West Coast offense of head coach Bill Walsh. This offense was led by three-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Montana, Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Jerry Rice, and tight end Brent Jones. Under their leadership, the 49ers won four Super Bowls in the decade (XVI, XIX, XXIII, and XXIV) and made nine playoff appearances between 1981 and 1990, including eight division championships, becoming the second dynasty of the post-merger NFL. The 1980s also produced the 1985 Chicago Bears, who posted an 18–1 record under head coach Mike Ditka, colorful quarterback Jim McMahon, and Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton and won Super Bowl XX in dominating fashion. The Washington Redskins and New York Giants were also top teams of this period; the Redskins won Super Bowls XVII and XXII and the Giants claimed Super Bowls XXI and XXV. As in the 1970s, the Oakland Raiders were the only team to interrupt the Super Bowl dominance of other teams; they won Super Bowls XV and XVIII (the latter as the Los Angeles Raiders).

Following several seasons with poor records in 1980s, the Dallas Cowboys rose back to prominence in the 1990s. During this decade, the Cowboys made post season appearances every year except for the seasons of 1990 and 1997. From 1992 to 1996, the Cowboys won their division championship each year. In this same period, the Buffalo Bills had made their mark reaching the Super Bowl for 4 consecutive years, only to lose in all of them. After Super Bowl championships by division rivals New York (1990) and Washington (1991), the Cowboys won three of the next four Super Bowls (XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX) led by quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin. The Cowboy's streak was interrupted by the 49ers, who won their league-leading fifth title overall with Super Bowl XXIX; however, the Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl XXX the next year also gave them five titles overall. The NFC's winning streak was continued by the Green Bay Packers who, under quarterback Brett Favre, won Super Bowl XXXI, their first championship since Super Bowl II in the late 1960s.

1997-2008:AFC Dominance[edit | edit source]

During this period, the AFC had ended the NFC's long Super Bowl streak and started a stretch of its own in which AFC teams won 9 out of 12 Super Bowls. The remainder were won between the Broncos, Steelers, and Colts. In the years between 2001 and 2011, three teams – the Patriots, Steelers, and Colts – accounted for ten of the AFC Super Bowl appearances, with those same teams often meeting each other earlier in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the NFC saw a different representative in the Super Bowl every season from 2001 through 2010.

Super Bowl XXXII saw quarterback John Elway and running back Terrell Davis lead the Denver Broncos to an upset victory over the defending champion Packers, snapping the NFC's winning streak and starting a streak in which AFC teams would win eight of the next ten Super Bowls. This marked Elway's first Super Bowl championship in four attempts. The Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the following Super Bowl, which would be Elway's final game. The surprising St. Louis Rams would close out the 1990s by logging an NFC win in Super Bowl XXXIV.

The New England Patriots became the dominant team throughout the early 2000s, winning the championship three out of four years early in the decade. They would become only the second team in the history of the NFL to do so (after the 1990s Dallas Cowboys). In Super Bowl XXXVI, first-year starting quarterback Tom Brady led his team to a 20–17 upset victory over the St. Louis Rams. Brady would go on to win the MVP award for this game The Patriots also won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX defeating the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles respectively. This four year stretch of Patriot dominance was only interrupted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl XXXVII title.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts continued the era of AFC dominance by winning Super Bowls XL and XLI. Two years later the Steelers won an NFL record sixth Super Bowl championship in Super Bowl XLIII.

In the 2007 season, the Patriots came back by becoming the first team in NFL history to have a 16–0 record in the regular season. They easily marched through the AFC playoffs and were heavy favorites in Super Bowl XLII. However, they lost that game to the New York Giants 17–14, in large part due to a play that would become known as the Helmet Catch, in which Giants receiver David Tyree caught an Eli Manning by securing it against the side of his helmet. This pass would set up the eventual game-winning touchdown when Eli passed the ball to Plaxico Burress. This Super Bowl became known as "one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history."

2009-Present: NFC turnaround, Patriots' Dynasty return, and long-drought championships broken[edit | edit source]

NFC teams won four of five Super Bowls in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The Giants won the two championships (XLII as described above and XLVI over the Patriots) in this period. Between these titles, the New Orleans Saints won their first title and the Green Bay Packers won their fourth Super Bowl and record 13th NFL championship overall.

The Super Bowls of the late 2000s and early 2010s are marked by the performances of the several of the winning quarterbacks. Peyton Manning, Eli Manning twice, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers all have championships and Super Bowl MVP awards to their lists of individual accomplishments.

In Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seattle Seahawks defeated Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. Giving the Seahawks their first Super Bowl win.

In Super Bowl XLIX, it became the most viewed Super Bowl of all time with 115 million viewers. This Super Bowl became notable for its dramatic final play, in which undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted the ball, which was intended for Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. The play garnered criticism when Russell Wilson was supposed throw the ball to Marshawn Lynch when Marshawn was wide open. The score was 28-24 as the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXXIX, where they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles

In Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning's Broncos defeated the 15-1 Carolina Panthers, 24-10, giving the Broncos their 3rd Super Bowl win. The game is notable to be Peyton Manning's last game of his career before retiring the next month.

In Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3. But suddenly, the New England Patriots were leading to a 25 point deficit, making the first Super Bowl in history to go to overtime. The Patriots won the game when Patriots running back James White score the game winning touchdown, making the score, 34-28, completing their remarkable comeback.

In Super Bowl LII, the Philadelphia Eagles battled against the New England Patriots, in a rematch against each other for the first time since Super Bowl XXXIX. This game is notable for its Eagles' trick play: Philly Special. The Eagles defeated the defending Super Bowl champions, with a score of 41-33. It was the Eagles' first Super Bowl win.

In Super Bowl LIII, it was a rematch against last year's Super Bowl loser New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, battling against each other for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVI. It set 2 notable records for the Rams, including Sean McVay, becoming the youngest head coach to appear in a Super Bowl, and even Rams punter Johnny Hekker, for the longest punt in a Super Bowl: 65 yards. The Patriots won the Super Bowl, with a score of 13-3, making it the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time including the lowest combined points: 16.

In Super Bowl LIV, the 12-4 Kansas City Chiefs battled against 13-3 San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers were leading 20-10 in the 3rd quarter. But in the 4th quarter however, the Chiefs made a 21 point comeback, ending their 50 year long Super Bowl drought, with a 31-20 victory.

In Super Bowl LV, Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers upsetted the heavily favored Kansas City Chiefs, with a score of 31-9.

Television coverage and ratings[edit | edit source]

Template:Rellink For many years, the Super Bowl has possessed a large US and global television viewership, and it is often the most watched television program of the year. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings, which is usually around a 40 rating and 60 share. This means that on average, 80 to 90 million people from the United States are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment.

A frequently misquoted figure from NFL press releases has led to the common perception that the Super Bowl has an annual global audience of around one billion people.[9][10] In reality, the NFL states one billion as the game's potential worldwide audience, or the number of people able to watch the game.[11] The New York-based media research firm Initiative measured the global audience for the 2005 Super Bowl at 93 million people, with 98 percent of that figure being viewers in North America, which meant roughly 2 million people outside North America watched the Super Bowl.[9]

2012's Super Bowl XLVI held the record for total number of U.S. viewers, attracting an average U.S. audience of over 111 million and an estimated total audience of nearly 167 million, making the game the most-viewed television broadcast of any kind in American history.[12]

Official logo for Super Bowl XLVII, which was played in New Orleans in February 2013.

2013's Super Bowl XLVII will also be remembered for a power outage which occured midway through the 3rd quarter, where that season's AFC Champions, The Baltimore Ravens were ahead big 28-6, and the valiant comeback of NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, led by QB Colin Kapernick afterwards, a 17-point scoring surge which brought them within striking distance at 28-23 by the end of the quarter. Play finally resumed at 8:10 p.m. (9:10 p.m. ET), about 34 minutes after the last play before the outage, according to CBS, which broadcast the game. [13] List of Super Bowl champions

Logos[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Belkin, Douglas. "Super Bowl underscores cultural divide", The Boston Globe, January 29, 2004. 
  2. Let's make Super Bowl an official holiday.
  3. USDA Offers Food Safety Advice for Your Super Bowl Party. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved on January 10, 2007.
  4. Hibberd, James. "Super Bowl dethrones 'M*A*S*H,' sets all-time record", The Live Feed, February 8, 2010. 
  5. Harris, Nick. "Elite clubs on Uefa gravy train as Super Bowl knocked off perch", The Independent, January 31, 2010. 
  6. Commercials as big as game, Florida Today
  7. Will, Tracy (1997). Wisconsin. Oakland, California: Compass American Guides. pp. 83. ISBN 1-878867-49-0.
  8. There is no other TitleTown USA.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Rushin, Steve. "A Billion People Can Be Wrong", Sports Illustrated, February 6, 2006. Retrieved on January 15, 2007. 
  10. Super Bowl XL to Attract Close to 1 Billion Viewers Worldwide, Voice of America, February 3, 2006
  11. Super Bowl XLI broadcast in 232 countries, NFL press release, February 3, 2007.
  12. Super Bowl XLVI Breaks Total Viewership Record.
  13. CNN Staff. "Superdome power outage halts Super Bowl XLVII", CNN, February 3, 2013. Retrieved on March 19, 2013. 
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