Thursday, February 01, 2007


Do you know the origin of the name “Super Bowl”?

Don't lie. Nobody does. It’s just one of those words that’s been around forever and no one ever stops to wonder why. It’s the Super Bowl and that’s that. As far as most Americans are concerned, the term Super Bowl has been around since the signing of the Declaration of Independence and is written into our nation’s Constitution. We don’t question its origin because it’s not important. What’s important is what the Super Bowl stands for – a chance for Americans to worship two of their favorite false idols at once: sport and media. I can't wait to find a good spot in front of that enormous HDTV television and settle in for 5+ hours of extreme overeating and overhyped coverage.

Where traditional holidays are given to family, televised cultural events like the Super Bowl (and the Oscars to a lesser degree) provide a good excuse for gathering with friends. It’s like a second Thanksgiving – this time with junk food and drunk friends. Nevermind the turkey...could you pass that 7-layer taco dip! And who brought these mini beef roll thingies? They're incredible!

So where DID the term “Super Bowl” come from? Okay, I’ll tell you. A little closer, please – I don’t want everyone to hear this. It’s actually an off-the-cuff combination of words jokingly uttered by one of the original organizers. Here’s what happened.

Back in 1967 there were two football leagues, the National Football League and the American Football League. The former was the original league; the latter was an upstart rival. After 7 years, the upstart rival AFL became successful enough that people started wondering which league was better. So it was agreed upon that the champion of the National Football League would play the champion of the American Football League to settle things once and for all.

The Commissioner of the NFL, Pete Rozelle, suggested they call that game “The Big One.” A creative genius he was not. Nor was AFL Founder Lamar Hunt, who recently passed away. But it was Lamar's term that ultimately stuck. He claims he was thinking about all of those college football championship games that had been called "bowls" for years when he said: “This game is going to be like a ‘super’ bowl!”

And upon hearing those words together, everyone in the meeting just looked around at each other and agreed: “That name totally sucks, but let’s use it anyhow for now…until we can come up with something better.”

True story - even the last part. “Super Bowl” was intended to be a stop-gap name – a placeholder they’d use temporarily until they could work out something more meaningful. Super Bowl, after all, was kind of generic. Super? Bowl? Why not just call it the Uber Mega Ultimate Super Championship of the Universe? Because Super Bowl was alsmot perfect in its simplicity.

And so today, all these years later, we're still calling “the Big One” the Super Bowl. And a super day it is certain to be...

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