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History of the Super Bowl

How the Super Bowl Was Named?

In 1960, a group of wealthy businessmen decided to create their own football league to rival the current NFL – the American Football League (AFL). At that time, the National Football League would only support a select number of teams and were unwilling to expand their roster.

The plan was for the American Football League to forge their own competing association and open-up football to a wider group of fans. The rivalry between leagues helped grow mass-market appeal for the sport, even becoming more popular than baseball by the end of the decade.

After years of competing for fans and players, in 1966 the NFL and AFL agreed upon a merger, where both leagues would combine in 4 years in 1970. This was orchestrated by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt. Meanwhile, in the years leading up to the official merger, both Rozelle and Hunt proposed a final end-of-season game where the winning team from the AFL and NFL would compete against each other to be crowned overall champions. Originally, this championship match was named the “NFL-AFL Championship Game”, however Hunt wanted something “catchier” to bring hype to the match.

After seeing his children playing with a Super Ball toy, Hunt suggested the now-famous “Super Bowl” name for the championship game. Although other names were proposed, sports journalists and fans resonated with the title and it stuck. The first final match to feature the Super Bowl name was in 1968, Super Bowl III, with the tradition following since.

With 5 championship matches completed by 1971, Roman numerals were added to the game title to help fans differentiate between the years—since the Super Bowl is played two weeks after the conference victors are confirmed. This trend has continued since then except for Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

The First Super Bowl Matches

The Green Bay Packers from the NFL won the first two Super Bowl championships in 1967 and 1968 respectively. However, team owners from both leagues worried for the merger due to the competitiveness from current AFL teams. In the early years, NFL teams would dominate the standings compared to the AFL counterparts. However, that all changed a few years later in 1968’s Super Bowl III, where the AFL’s New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts.

In the following year, a similar story occurred where the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs overthrew NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in 1969’s Super Bowl IV. These two victories removed any doubt that the AFL teams couldn’t compete alongside the NFL.

Starting with the 1970 season, the AFL and NFL merged. However, while the leagues became one, retaining the NFL’s name, the league decided to divide teams between two conferences— the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. The winners from each of these leagues would then go on to play in the Super Bowl to determine the overall champion.

Vince Lombardi Trophy

Named after the winning coach from the first-ever two Super Bowls, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is the ultimate Super Bowl prize. Since its inception in 1967 with the first “NFL-AFL Championship Game”, each trophy has been handcrafted from sterling silver by Tiffany & Co. Unlike other championship awards, the Vince Lombardi trophy is recreated every year, allowing the previous winning teams to keep it permanently in their collection.

For the players on the winning team, a smaller version of the trophy is presented to them to keep.

With millions of fans watching the game from around the world, the Super Bowl is a grand spectacle not to be missed. Even if your favourite NFL team didn’t make the finals this year, the Super Bowl is still a must-watch event for any NFL fan.

Shop our full range of NFL jerseys and teamwear at Mitchell & Ness now.

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