First played in 1967, the Super Bowl was originally a match up between the champions of the rival NFL and AFL leagues, following their merger in 1966. Originally played in early January, the game has progressively moved later in the year as the season has grown from 14 games to the current 16-game schedule with the Super Bowl taking place on the first Sunday in February. The winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowl Games and won three of five of the preceding NFL championship games.
When the leagues first joined, there was concern that the AFL teams would not be able to compete with the established NFL teams, a concern that was put to rest in Super Bowl III. Prior to that contest, Joe Namath famously guaranteed a win for his underdog New York Jets over the 18-point favorite Baltimore Colts, solidifying the AFL as a worthy contender for the NFL teams. The 1970’s were dominated by the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers with those teams combining for six wins in the decade. Through the 1980’s and 90’s, the Super Bowl was completely dominated by the NFC, with teams from that division winning a ridiculous 16 out of 20 games in that period. While the 80’s were controlled by the San Francisco 49’ers, the 90’s saw the Dallas Cowboys emerge as the team to beat with both teams accomplishing their fifth victories in 1995 and 1996 respectively. The pendulum swung back towards the AFC beginning with a win by the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII, with AFC teams going on to win 8 out of the next 10 contests. Entering the new millennium, the New England Patriots began a mini dynasty winning 3 out of the first 5 Super Bowls since 2000. The Patriots managed to become only the second team to go undefeated for the regular season last year, only to be upset by the New York Giants in the ultimate game.
The Super Bowl enjoys a huge television audience with nearly 100 million people in the United States tuning in with perhaps tens of millions more watching worldwide, making it the most-watched US television event of the year. This year’s Super Bowl is the second-last major sporting event that will be viewed in analog in the United States prior to the change to digital television transition on February 17th. Next year the many viewers who are more interested in watching the commercials during the game will be able to watch in high definition. Advertisers for this year’s big game will be paying big bucks to get their messages out with 30-second ad slots selling for $3 million and up.
The Super Bowl pre-game and halftime shows have grown from local high school and college marching bands in the early days to major musical acts and performers vying for the coveted spots and this year will feature Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at halftime.
Every year, the participants are almost impossible to predict, as even the most dominant teams can be tripped up once the playoffs begin and the only guarantee is that the Lions will not make the playoffs again. That being said, the American Football Conference (AFC) will likely see the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Tennessee Titans likely battling for the Super Bowl berth with the Titans looking to be the team to beat. In the National Football Conference (NFC) the New York Giants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers are likely candidates to make it to the big game.
Many bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants show the game live on Monday morning with even more establishments showing the taped game on Monday evening; check with your local watering hole for details.
Regardless of which teams meet on February 1st the game is always a huge spectacle and extravaganza that should provide some exciting football and other entertainment n the form of commercials and halftime entertainment.
Story by James Souilliere
From J SELECT Magazine, Feburary 2009