THE BEGINNING. The Super Bowl began 54 years ago as a matchup between the champions of the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL), the latter of which was considered the far-superior league from a competitive standpoint.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? AFL co-founder Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, came up with the name Super Bowl after watching his child play with a Wham-O “Super Ball.”
THE MAN. THE MYTH. THE LEGEND. Quotable coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers, champions of the NFL, won the first two Super Bowls by a combined 44 points. The Super Bowl trophy, awarded to the winning team, is named in his honor.
THE UPSET. Expecting another a lopsided victory for the NFL champion in Super Bowl III, oddsmakers made the Baltimore Colts an 18-point favorite over the AFL champions, the New York Jets. The Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, pulled off the monumental upset, winning 16-7. It remains the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. The two leagues merged in 1970.
EVENLY MATCHED. Since the merger, the American Football Conference (AFC) holds a 25-24 advantage over the National Football Conference (NFC) in Super Bowl wins.
NEW MONTH, SAME GAME. For the first 35 years, the game was played exclusively in January. However, the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks resulted in the second week of games being postponed, ultimately pushing the Super Bowl back to Feb. 3, 2002. The following year’s Super Bowl returned to January, but the game has been played in February ever since.
READY FOR PRIMETIME. Though a cultural phenomenon today, the Super Bowl was not played in primetime until the 12th game in 1979, when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Denver Broncos, 27-10. That game was watched by 78.3 million people.
MOST WATCHED. The Super Bowl is responsible for 18 of the Top 24 television broadcasts in United States history. Exceptions? The Apollo 11 landing; President Nixon's resignation; “M*A*S*H” finale; “Roots” finale; police pursuit of O.J. Simpson; and Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks.
CHA-CHING. The cost of a 30-second commercial during the first Super Bowl was approximately $55,000. The cost of a 30-second commercial during this year’s Super Bowl is approximately $5 million.
I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD. The iconic Disney advertisement usually features the Super Bowl MVP saying the words, “I’m going to Disney World,” following their team’s victory. A variation of the phrase was first said by New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms after beating the Denver Broncos in 1987. Simms actually said: “I’m gonna go to Disney World.”
PRICED OUT. Tickets for the first Super Bowl topped out at $12 and still did not sell out. As of Sunday morning (Feb. 2), Super Bowl LIV tickets were listed for sale on StubHub between $5,000 and $27,500.
RAGS TO RICHES. Kurt Warner, who played for the University of Northern Iowa, is the only undrafted quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He played in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before getting his shot in the NFL in 1999.
LONG SHOTS. Now remembered as “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Kurt Warner’s St. Louis Rams were the longest of long shots heading into the 1999 season. The team’s chances of winning the championship were dropped by oddsmakers to 15,000-to-1 after starting quarterback, Trent Green, suffered a devastating leg injury before the season even started. In Green’s absence, the Rams turned to the inexperienced Warner, a 28-year-old who just a few years earlier worked at a supermarket bagging groceries.
DOUBLE TROUBLE. Kurt Warner, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, is one of only six players to win both the regular season MVP and Super Bowl MVP in the same season. Bart Starr (1966-67), Terry Bradshaw (1978-79), Joe Montana (1989-90), Emmitt Smith (1993-94) and Steve Young (1994-95) also did it.
CREAM OF THE CROP. Four Super Bowl winning quarterbacks were taken with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft: Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw and Peyton Manning. Joe Namath, who won Super Bowl III, was taken first overall in the AFL draft.
TWICE AS NICE. Peyton Manning is the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. He won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and the Denver Broncos in 2016.
DEFENSE WINS. The 2014 Super Bowl, also led by Peyton Manning, featured the highest scoring team in NFL history, the Denver Broncos, who averaged 38 points per game during the regular season. However, they scored just one touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII, losing 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks.
NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS. In that same game, the Seattle Seahawks scored a two-point safety on the first play from scrimmage. The odds of that happening, according to some oddsmakers, were 4,000-to-1.
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION. Super Bowl XXIX was the highest scoring game in Super Bowl history. The San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers combined for 75 points, with the 49ers winning, 49-26. The 49ers, the biggest favorites in Super Bowl history, covered the 18.5-point spread.
BET THE UNDER. The 2019 showdown between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was expected to be one of the highest scoring Super Bowl games in history, with oddsmakers setting the line for total points at 57.5. The teams combined for 16 points with the Patriots winning, 13-3, in the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever.
A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES. Super Bowl LI set all sorts of records but is perhaps remembered for the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The New England Patriots trailed the Atlanta Falcons by 25 points in the third quarter. They scored 31 unanswered points, winning 34-28. It was also the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
PARITY? Of the 53 Super Bowls played, 56 percent have been won by just six teams: New England Patriots (6), Pittsburgh Steelers (6), San Francisco 49ers (5), Dallas Cowboys (5), Green Bay Packers (4) and New York Giants (4).
IS THIS A RERUN? The New England Patriots have appeared in 47 percent of all Super Bowls since 2002.
ORIGIN STORY. Before beginning their run of dominance in 2001, the New England Patriots were a downtrodden franchise, winning no championships and making the postseason just 10 out of their 41 seasons. They started the 2001 season with two losses before going on an 11-3 run. In the second game of the season, their $100 million starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, was severely injured, forcing the inexperienced Tom Brady under center. After the game, oddsmakers dropped the Patriots’ chances of winning to the Super Bowl to 6,000-to-1.
THE RIGHT CHOICE. Considered by many to be the greatest quarterback ever, Tom Brady was not a unanimous choice to start for the Patriots in their first Super Bowl win. An injury forced Brady from the AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh Steelers a week earlier. In a bit of irony, the now-healed Bledsoe replaced Brady and helped lead the Patriots to victory. Despite uncertainty surrounding Brady’s competency, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick decided to stick with his young quarterback against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams.
UNDERDOGS. Though favored to win every Super Bowl they’ve appeared in since, the New England Patriots were 14-point underdogs in 2002. The Patriots stunned Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams, pulling off the 20-17 victory. It was the second-greatest upset in Super Bowl history. The third largest came just six years later, when the New York Giants spoiled an undefeated season for the Patriots, who were seeking their fourth title in seven years.
TOM TERRIFIC. Tom Brady holds the record for most Super Bowl MVPs, winning four. Brady is just one of two quarterbacks drafted in the sixth round to start and win a Super Bowl. The other is Mark Rypien, who led the Washington Redskins to a win over the Buffalo Bills in 1992.
NEW QB, WHO DIS? The Washington Redskins won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks: Joe Theismann in 1983, Doug Williams in 1988 and Mark Rypien in 1992. Williams was the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl and Rypien was the first Canadian-born quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
RECORD BREAKERS. Doug Williams won the Super Bowl MVP, throwing for 340 yards and 4 touchdowns. All of his touchdowns were thrown in the second quarter, when the Washington Redskins scored 35 points, which remains an NFL record for points scored in a quarter.
THEISMANN. Joe Theismann helped lead the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl XVII victory over the Miami Dolphins. Twelve years earlier while playing at the University of Notre Dame, he was in contention for the Heisman Trophy, the top individual award for Division 1 college football players. As part of his campaign, Theismann, whose name was actually pronounced THEES-man, changed the way his name was pronounced to rhyme with Heisman. Though he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 1983, he won neither the Heisman nor the Super Bowl MVP, which went that year to running back John Riggins.
AND HEISMAN. Desmond Howard, who went to the University of Michigan, won both the Super Bowl MVP and the Heisman Trophy, one of only four players to do so. The other three are Jim Plunkett (Stanford University), Marcus Allen (University of Southern California) and Roger Staubach (The United States Naval Academy).
A ‘SPECIAL’ PERFORMANCE. Desmond Howard remains the only special teams player to win the Super Bowl MVP award. In the Green Bay Packers’ 35-21 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI (1998), Howard had 244 total return yards, including a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
QUARTERBACKS RUN THE WORLD. Quarterbacks have won 29 Super Bowl MVPs, the most of any position. Tied for second-most at seven are running backs and wide receivers. Ten defensive players one special teams player have won the award.
A THROWBACK. No running back has won the Super Bowl MVP since 1998. In Super Bowl XXXII, Terrell Davis carried the ball 30 times for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 1:45 left. The Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24.
WHERE GREATNESS BEGINS. The University of Southern California (USC) has produced 47 champions, followed by the University of Miami (44), the University of Notre Dame (44), the University of Tennessee (43) and Penn State University (40).
YOU CAN’T OUTSMART VEGAS. Favorites have covered the point spread 28 times and underdogs 23 times. There have been two pushes (when the score hits the oddsmaker’s set number exactly).
THE BEST OF THE BEST. The introduction of “Wild Card” teams in the 1970-71 season allowed non-division winners to make the playoffs. However, only four non-division winners have won the Super Bowl in the ensuing 48 years: the 2011 New York Giants, 2008 Green Bay Packers, 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers, and the 1980 Oakland Raiders.
HOME FIELD HELPS. Since seeding began 44 years ago, top-seeded teams with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs have won the Super Bowl 23 times. Only the aforementioned Giants, Packers and Steelers have won the Super Bowl without playing a home game in the postseason.
REST OR RUST? In the first round of the playoffs, top-seeded teams are given byes while Wild Card teams and lower-seeded division winners duke it out. The extra rest seems to help. Teams with bye weeks have won 82 percent of Super Bowls since they were introduced.
A WEEK OFF. Speaking of bye weeks, there has been an extra week between the league/conference championships and the Super Bowl since the beginning—with a few exceptions. The 1970, 1983, 1991, 1994, 2000, 2002 and 2003 Super Bowls were played without a bye week.
AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. The Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions are the only two pre-merger teams that have not made a Super Bowl (Houston Texans, founded 2002, and Jacksonville Jaguars, founded 1995, have also not made the Super Bowl).
PRE-SUPER BOWL ERA. NFL champions were crowned long before the Super Bowl existed. Despite their futility in the modern era, the Browns and Lions were considered two of the NFL’s most-storied franchises, each winning four NFL Championships between 1933 and 1966.
GOLDEN SOMBRERO: Twelve existing teams have never won a Super Bowl, including the Buffalo Bills, who appeared in a record four consecutive Super Bowls from 1991 to 1994, winning none.
ONCE MORE FOR GOOD MEASURE. Gale Gilbert, the backup quarterback for all four Buffalo Bills teams, joined the San Diego Chargers the following year. The Chargers lost Super Bowl XXIX to the San Francisco 49ers, Gilbert's fifth consecutive loss in the Big Game.
THREE IN A ROW. Conversely, linebacker Ken Norton Jr. is the only player to win three consecutive Super Bowls. He won Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII with the Dallas Cowboys and Super Bowl XXIX with the San Francisco 49ers.
VICTORY IN DEFEAT. Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley (Super Bowl V) is the only player from a losing team to be awarded Super Bowl MVP.
ONE AND DONE. No head coach has ever won a Super Bowl with more than one team
COACHING DOMINANCE. A dozen coaches are responsible for winning 32 of 53 Super Bowls. With six Super Bowl wins, Bill Belichick, of the New England Patriots, has more than any other head coach. Chuck Knoll (Pittsburgh Steelers) won four, Joe Gibbs (Washington Redskins) won three and Bill Walsh (San Francisco 49ers) won three. Eight coaches have won two.
WISDOM AND YOUTH. Tom Coughlin was a record 65 years old when he led the New York Giants to their fourth Super Bowl title in 2012. Mike Tomlin, the youngest winning coach in history, was 36 when his Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.
DUAL THREATS. Only three people have won the Super Bowl as both a player and head coach: Tom Flores (Player: Kansas City Chiefs, Coach: Oakland Raiders); Mike Ditka (Player: Dallas Cowboys, Coach: Chicago Bears) and Tony Dungy (Player: Pittsburgh Steelers, Coach: Indianapolis Colts)
NO FROZEN TUNDRA. Though harsh winter weather has provided the backdrop for many iconic NFL games, Super Bowls are played almost exclusively in domes or in warm-weather cities. The rare exception came in 2014, when MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., hosted Super Bowl XLVIII. Despite concerns of a snowstorm, the temperature for Feb. 2 was an unseasonably warm 49 degrees. Just several hours after the game, however, the city was coated by 8 inches of snow.
NOT QUITE FREEZING. The 2014 game in New Jersey was only the fourth-coldest Super Bowl on record. Super Bowl IX in New Orleans (46 degrees), Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis (44 degrees) and Super Bowl VI in New Orleans (39 degrees) were colder.
A RARE DOWNPOUR. By design and through a little bit of luck, the weather at most Super Bowls has been rather unremarkable. However, Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, played on Feb. 4, 2007, in Miami was the wettest Super Bowl game on record, with nearly an inch of rain measured for the day.
THE MAGIC CITY AND THE BIG EASY. This year’s game, Super Bowl LIV, will be the 11th held in Miami. New Orleans has hosted the game 10 times and is slated to host it again in 2023.