The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game is the culmination of a regular season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. Normally, Roman numerals are used 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. The sole exception to this naming convention tradition occurred with Super Bowl 50, which was played on February 7, 2016, following the 2015 regular season, and the following year, the nomenclature returned to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI, following the 2016 regular season. The most recent Super Bowl was Super Bowl LII, on February 4, 2018, following the 2017 regular season.
The game was created as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival league, the American Football League (AFL). It was agreed that the two leagues' champion teams would play in the 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 has since been played between the conference champions to determine the NFL's league champion. Currently, the National Football Conference (NFC) leads the league with 27 wins to 25 wins for the American Football Conference (AFC). The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most Super Bowl championship titles, with six. The New England Patriots have the most Super Bowl appearances, with ten. Charles Haley and Tom Brady both have five Super Bowl rings, which is the record for the most rings won by a single player.
The day on which the Super Bowl is played, now considered by some as an unofficial American national holiday, is called "Super Bowl Sunday". It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day. In addition, the Super Bowl has frequently been the most-watched American television broadcast of the year; the seven most-watched broadcasts in U.S. television history are Super Bowls. In 2015, Super Bowl XLIX became the most-watched American television program in history with an average audience of 114.4 million viewers, the fifth time in six years the game had set a record, starting with the 2010 Super Bowl, which itself had taken over the number-one spot held for 27 years by the final episode of M*A*S*H. The Super Bowl is also among the most-watched sporting events in the world, almost all audiences being North American, and is second to soccer's UEFA Champions League final as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide.
The NFL restricts the use of its "Super Bowl" trademark; it is frequently called the Big Game or other generic terms by non-sponsoring corporations. Because of the high viewership, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year, leading to companies regularly developing 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. In addition, popular singers and musicians including Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Beyoncé, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Whitney Houston, and Lady Gaga have performed during the event's pre-game and halftime ceremonies.
For four decades after its 1920 inception, the NFL successfully fended off several rival leagues. However, in 1960, it encountered its most serious competitor when the American Football League (AFL) was formed. The AFL vied heavily with the NFL for both players and fans, but by the middle of the decade, the strain of competition led to serious merger talks between the two leagues. Prior to the 1966 season, the NFL and AFL reached a merger agreement that was to take effect for the 1970 season. As part of the merger, the champions of the two leagues agreed to meet in a world championship game for professional American football until the merger was effected.
A bowl game is a post-season college football game. The original "bowl game" was the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California, which was first played in 1902 as the "Tournament East-West football game" as part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and moved to the new Rose Bowl Stadium in 1923. The stadium got its name from the fact that the game played there was part of the Tournament of Roses and that it was shaped like a bowl, much like the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut; the Tournament of Roses football game itself eventually came to be known as the Rose Bowl Game. Exploiting the Rose Bowl Game's popularity, post-season college football contests were created for Miami (the Orange Bowl), New Orleans (the Sugar Bowl), and El Paso, Texas (the Sun Bowl) in 1935, and for Dallas (the Cotton Bowl) in 1937. By the time the first Super Bowl was played, the term "bowl" for any major American football game was well established.
Lamar Hunt, owner of the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, first used the term "Super Bowl" to refer to the NFL-AFL championship game in the merger meetings. Hunt later said the name was likely in his head because his children had been playing with a Super Ball toy; a vintage example of the ball is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In a July 25, 1966, letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Hunt wrote, "I have kiddingly called it the 'Super Bowl,' which obviously can be improved upon."
The leagues' owners chose the name "AFL–NFL Championship Game", but in July 1966 the Kansas City Star quoted Hunt in discussing "the Super Bowl — that's my term for the championship game between the two leagues", and the media immediately began using the term. Although the league stated in 1967 that "not many people like it", asking for suggestions and considering alternatives such as "Merger Bowl" and "The Game", the Associated Press reported that "Super Bowl" "grew and grew and grew-until it reached the point that there was Super Week, Super Sunday, Super Teams, Super Players, ad infinitum". "Super Bowl" became official beginning with the third annual game. Roman numerals were first affixed for the fifth edition, in January 1971.
After the NFL's Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, some team owners feared for the future of the merger. At the time, many doubted the competitiveness of AFL teams compared with their NFL counterparts, though that perception changed when the AFL's New York Jets defeated the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami. One year later, the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL's Minnesota Vikings 23–7 in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans, which was the final AFL-NFL World Championship Game played before the merger. Beginning with the 1970 season, the NFL realigned into two conferences; the former AFL teams plus three NFL teams (the Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns) would constitute the American Football Conference (AFC), while the remaining NFL clubs would form the National Football Conference (NFC). The champions of the two conferences would play each other in the Super Bowl.
The winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowl games and three of the five preceding NFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965. Following Lombardi's death in September 1970, the trophy was named the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The first trophy awarded under the new name was presented to the Baltimore Colts following their win in Super Bowl V in Miami.
The Super Bowl is currently played on the first Sunday in February. This is due to the current NFL schedule which consists of the opening weekend of the season being held immediately after Labor Day (the first Monday in September), the 17-week regular season (where teams each play 16 games and have one bye), the first three rounds of the playoffs, and the Super Bowl two weeks after the two Conference Championship Games. This schedule has been in effect since Super Bowl XXXVIII in February 2004. The date of the Super Bowl can thus be determined from the date of the preceding Labor Day. For example, Labor Day in 2015 occurred on September 7; therefore the next Super Bowl was scheduled exactly five months later on February 7, 2016.
Originally, the game took place in early to mid-January. For Super Bowl I there was only one round of playoffs: the pre-merger NFL and AFL Championship Games. The addition of two playoff rounds (first in 1967 and then in 1978), an increase in regular season games from 14 to 16 (1978), and the establishment of one bye-week per team (1990) have caused the Super Bowl to be played later. Partially offsetting these season-lengthening effects, simultaneous with the addition of two regular season games in 1978, the season was started earlier. Prior to 1978, the season started as late as September 21. Now, since Labor Day is always the first Monday of September, September 13 is the latest possible date for the first full Sunday set of games (Since 2002, the regular season has started with the Kickoff Game on the first Thursday after Labor Day). The earliest possible season start date is September 7.
|New England Patriots||10||5||5||.500|
|San Francisco 49ers||6||5||1||.833|
|Green Bay Packers||5||4||1||.800|
|New York Giants||5||4||1||.800|
|Los Angeles / Oakland Raiders||5||3||2||.600|
|Baltimore / Indianapolis Colts||4||2||2||.500|
|St. Louis / Los Angeles Rams||3||1||2||.333|
|Kansas City Chiefs||2||1||1||.500|
|New York Jets||1||1||0||1.000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||1||0||1.000|
|New Orleans Saints||1||1||0||1.000|
|San Diego / Los Angeles Chargers||1||0||1||.000|
|Houston / Tennessee Oilers / Tennessee Titans||1||0||1||.000|
|St. Louis / Arizona Cardinals||1||0||1||.000|
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, the most of any team; the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers have five victories each, while the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have four Super Bowl championships. Fourteen other NFL franchises have won at least one Super Bowl. Eight teams have appeared in Super Bowl games without a win. The Minnesota Vikings were the first team to have appeared 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 creation of the Super Bowl, while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) are both recent NFL expansion teams. (Detroit, Houston, and Jacksonville, however, have hosted a Super Bowl, leaving the Browns the only team to date who has neither played in nor whose city has hosted the game.) The Minnesota Vikings won the last NFL Championship before the merger but lost to the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV.
The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls (Known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game for these first two contests), 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, and the only threepeat in NFL history (1965, 1966, and 1967).
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.
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 Super Bowl MVP (Cowboys' linebacker Chuck Howley). Beginning with this Super Bowl, all Super Bowls have served as the NFL's league championship game.
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 eventually win all of their playoff games, capped off with a 14–7 victory in Super Bowl VII, becoming the first and only team to finish an entire perfect regular and postseason. The Dolphins would repeat as league champions by winning 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.
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 team of the 1980s was the San Francisco 49ers, which featured the West Coast offense of Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh. This offense was led by three-time Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, running back Roger Craig, and defensive safety/cornerback Ronnie Lott. 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; quarterback Jim McMahon; and Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Their team won Super Bowl XX in dominant fashion. The Washington Redskins and New York Giants were also top teams of this period; the Redskins won Super Bowls XVII, XXII, and XXVI. 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 the 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 a record four consecutive years, only to lose all four. 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. All three of these players went to the Hall of Fame. The Cowboys' streak was interrupted by the 49ers, who won their league-leading fifth title overall with Super Bowl XXIX in dominating fashion under Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders; however, the Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl XXX the next year also gave them five titles overall and they did so with Sanders after he won the Super Bowl the previous year with the 49ers. The NFC's winning streak was continued by the Green Bay Packers who, under Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, won Super Bowl XXXI, their first championship since Super Bowl II in the late 1960s.
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 13-year winning streak. The following year, the Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, Elway's fifth Super Bowl appearance, his second NFL championship, and his final NFL game. The back-to-back victories heralded a change in momentum in which AFC teams would win nine out of 12 Super Bowls. In the years between 1995 and 2016, five teams – the Steelers, New England Patriots, Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, and Indianapolis Colts – accounted for 20 of the 22 AFC Super Bowl appearances (including the last 14), with those same teams often meeting each other earlier in the playoffs. In contrast, the NFC saw a different representative in the Super Bowl every season from 2001 through 2010.
The year following the Broncos' second victory, however, a surprising St. Louis Rams team led by the undrafted quarterback, Kurt Warner, who would close out the 1990s in a wild battle against the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. The tense game came down to the final play in which Tennessee had the opportunity to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Titans nearly pulled it off, but the tackle of receiver Kevin Dyson by linebacker Mike Jones kept the ball out of the end zone by a matter of inches. In 2007, ESPN would rank "The Tackle" as the 2nd greatest moment in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl XXXV was played by the AFC's Baltimore Ravens and the NFC's New York Giants. The Ravens defeated the Giants by the score of 34–7. The game was played on January 28, 2001, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
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 interrupted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 48–21 Super Bowl XXXVII victory over the Oakland Raiders.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts continued the era of AFC dominance by winning Super Bowls XL and XLI in 2005–06 and 2006–07, respectively defeating the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears.
In the 2007 season, the Patriots became the fourth team in NFL history to have a perfect unbeaten and untied regular season record, the second in the Super Bowl era after the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and the first to finish 16–0. They easily marched through the AFC playoffs and were heavy favorites in Super Bowl XLII. However, they lost that game to Eli Manning and the New York Giants 17–14, leaving the Patriots' 2007 record at 18–1.
The 2009 season saw the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV by a score of 31–17 to take home their first Championship. With this victory, the Saints joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets as the only teams to have won in their sole Super Bowl appearance.
The 2010s have seen parity between the two conferences, but not within them. Since the start of 2010, five of the nine Super Bowl winners hailed from the NFC, the other four from the AFC.
Following up the Saints' win in Super Bowl XLIV, the 2010 season brought the Green Bay Packers their fourth Super Bowl (XLV) victory and record thirteenth NFL championship overall with the defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers in February 2011. The Giants won another title after the 2011 season, again defeating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
The Baltimore Ravens snapped the NFC's three-game winning streak by winning Super Bowl XLVII in a 34–31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Super Bowl XLVIII, played at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium in February 2014, was the first Super Bowl held outdoors in a cold weather environment. The Seattle Seahawks won their first NFL title with a 43–8 defeat of the Denver Broncos, in a highly touted matchup that pitted Seattle's top-ranked defense against a Peyton Manning-led Denver offense that had broken the NFL's single-season scoring record.
In Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots beat the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks, 28–24 as Malcolm Butler intercepted a Seattle pass in the end zone with the Seahawks poised to take the lead. In Super Bowl 50, the Broncos, led by the league's top-ranked defense, defeated the Carolina Panthers, who had the league's top-ranked offense, in what became the final game of quarterback Peyton Manning's career.
In Super Bowl LII, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots, 41–33. It was the Eagles' third Super Bowl appearance, and their first win in franchise history. It was the Patriots' tenth Super Bowl appearance, and their fourth appearance in ten years; had the Patriots won, they would have tied the Pittsburgh Steelers with the most Super Bowl wins (six).
The Super Bowls of the late 2000s and 2010s are notable for the performances (and the pedigrees) of several of the participating quarterbacks, and stagnation (especially on the AFC side) in repeated appearances by the same teams and players. In particular, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning appeared as the AFC team's quarterback in all but two of the Super Bowls between 2001 and 2018.
The Super Bowl is one of the most watched annual sporting events in the world, with viewership overwhelmingly domestic. The only other annual event that gathers more viewers is the UEFA Champions League final. For many years, the Super Bowl has possessed a large US and global television viewership, and it is often the most watched United States originating television program of the year. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings, which is usually around a 40 rating and 60 shares. This means that on average, more than 100 million people from the United States alone are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment.
In press releases preceding each year's event, the NFL typically claims that that year's Super Bowl will have a potential worldwide audience of around one billion people in over 200 countries. This figure refers to the number of people able to watch the game, not the number of people actually watching. However, the statements have been frequently misinterpreted in various media as referring to the latter figure, leading to a common misperception about the game's actual global audience. 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 that year.
The 2015 Super Bowl XLIX holds the record for average number of U.S. viewers, with a final number of 114.4 million, making the game the most-viewed television broadcast of any kind in American history. The halftime show was the most watched ever with 118.5 million viewers tuning in, and an all-time high of 168 million viewers in the United States had watched several portions of the Super Bowl 2015 broadcast. The game set a record for total viewers for the fifth time in six years.
The highest-rated game according to Nielsen was Super Bowl XVI in 1982, which was watched in 49.1 percent of households (73 shares), or 40,020,000 households at the time. Ratings for that game, a San Francisco victory over Cincinnati, may have been aided by a large blizzard that had affected much of the northeastern United States on game day, leaving residents to stay at home more than usual. Super Bowl XVI still ranks fourth on Nielsen's list of top-rated programs of all time, and three other Super Bowls, XII, XVII, and XX, made the top ten.
Famous commercial campaigns include the Budweiser "Bud Bowl" campaign, the 1984 introduction of Apple's Macintosh computer, and the 1999 and 2000 dot-com ads. As the television ratings of the Super Bowl have steadily increased over the years, prices have also increased every year, with advertisers paying as much as $3.5 million for a thirty-second spot during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. A segment of the audience tunes into the Super Bowl solely to view commercials. In 2010, Nielsen reported that 51 percent of Super Bowl viewers tune in for the commercials. The Super Bowl halftime show has spawned another set of alternative entertainment such as the Lingerie Bowl, the Beer Bottle Bowl, and others.
|Network||Number broadcast||Years broadcast||Future scheduled telecasts*[›]|
|ABC**[›]||7||1985, 1988, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2006||**[›]|
|Fox||8 (10ˇ[›])||1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017||2020ˇ[›], 2023ˇ[›]|
|NBC||19 (20ˇ[›])||1967***[›], 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018||2021ˇ[›]|
|CBS||19 (21ˇ[›])||1967***[›], 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016||2019ˇ[›], 2022ˇ[›]|
Note: Years listed are the year the game was actually played (will be playedˇ[›]) rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.
^ *: The extended current TV contracts with the networks expire after the 2022 season (or Super Bowl LVII in early 2023) and the Super Bowl is currently rotated annually between CBS, Fox, and NBC in that order.
^ **: ABC is not currently in the rotation for Super Bowl broadcasts.
^ ***: The first Super Bowl was simultaneously broadcast by CBS and NBC, with each network using the same video feed, but providing its own commentary.
Super Bowls I–VI were blacked out in the television markets of the host cities, due to league restrictions then in place.
The Super Bowl provides an extremely strong lead-in to programming following it on the same channel, the effects of which can last for several hours. For instance, in discussing the ratings of a local TV station, Buffalo television critic Alan Pergament noted on the coattails from Super Bowl XLVII, which aired on CBS: "A paid program that ran on Channel 4 (WIVB-TV) at 2:30 in the morning had a 1.3 rating. That's higher than some CW prime time shows get on WNLO-TV, Channel 4's sister station."
Because of this strong coattail effect, the network that airs the Super Bowl typically takes advantage of the large audience to air an episode of a hit series, or to premiere the pilot of a promising new one in the lead-out slot, which immediately follows the Super Bowl and post-game coverage.
Initially, it was sort of a novelty and so it didn't quite feel right. But it was just like, this is the year. ... Bands of our generation, you can sort of be seen on a stage like this or, like, not seen. There's not a lot of middle places. It is a tremendous venue.
Early Super Bowls featured a halftime show consisting of marching bands from local colleges or high schools; but as the popularity of the game increased, a trend where popular singers and musicians performed during its pre-game ceremonies and the halftime show, or simply sang the national anthem of the United States, emerged. Unlike regular season or playoff games, thirty minutes are allocated for the Super Bowl halftime. After a special live episode of the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color caused a drop in viewership for the Super Bowl XXVI halftime show, the NFL sought to increase the Super Bowl's audience by hiring A-list talent to perform. They approached Michael Jackson, whose performance the following year drew higher figures than the game itself. Another notable performance came during Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, when U2 performed; during their third song, "Where the Streets Have No Name", the band played under a large projection screen which scrolled through names of the victims of the September 11 attacks.
For many years, Whitney Houston's performance of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, during the Gulf War, had long been regarded as one of the best renditions of the anthem in history. Then, in an historic, groundbreaking, and emotional performance prior to Super Bowl XLVIII, soprano Renee Fleming became the first opera singer to perform the anthem, propelling FOX to the highest ratings of any program in its history, and remains so today.
The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII attracted controversy, following an incident in which Justin Timberlake removed a piece of Janet Jackson's top, briefly exposing one of her breasts before the broadcast quickly cut away from the shot. The incident led to fines being issued by the FCC (and a larger crackdown over "indecent" content broadcast on television), and MTV (then a sister to the game's broadcaster that year, CBS, under Viacom) being banned by the NFL from producing the Super Bowl halftime show in the future. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the incident, the NFL held a moratorium on Super Bowl halftime shows featuring pop performers, and instead invited a single, headlining veteran act, such as Paul McCartney, The Who, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen. This practice ended at Super Bowl XLV, which returned to using current pop acts such as The Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry.
Excluding Super Bowl XXXIX, the famous "I'm going to Disney World!" advertising campaign took place in every Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXI when quarterback Phil Simms from the New York Giants became the first player to say the tagline.
As of Super Bowl LII, 27 of 52 Super Bowls have been played in three cities: New Orleans (ten times), the Greater Miami area (ten times), and the Greater Los Angeles area (seven times). No market or region without an active NFL franchise has ever hosted a Super Bowl, and the presence of an NFL team in a market or region is now a de jure requirement for bidding on the game. The winning market is not, however, required to host the Super Bowl in the same stadium that its NFL team uses, and nine Super Bowls have been held in a stadium other than the one the NFL team in that city was using at the time. For example, Los Angeles's last five Super Bowls were all played at the Rose Bowl, which has never been used by any NFL franchise outside of the Super Bowl.
No team has ever played the Super Bowl in its home stadium. The closest any team has come was the 2017 Minnesota Vikings, who were within one win of playing Super Bowl LII in U.S. Bank Stadium, but lost the NFC Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Two teams have played the Super Bowl in their home market: the San Francisco 49ers, who played Super Bowl XIX in Stanford Stadium instead of Candlestick Park; and the Los Angeles Rams, who played Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl instead of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In both cases, the stadium in which the Super Bowl was held was perceived to be a better stadium for a large, high-profile event than the stadiums the Rams and 49ers were playing in at the time; this situation has not arisen since 1993, in part because the league has traditionally awarded the Super Bowl in modern times to the newest stadiums. Besides those two, the only other Super Bowl venue that was not the home stadium to an NFL team at the time was Rice Stadium in Houston: the Houston Oilers had played there previously, but moved to the Astrodome several years prior to Super Bowl VIII. The Orange Bowl was the only AFL stadium to host a Super Bowl and the only stadium to host consecutive Super Bowls, hosting Super Bowls II and III.
Traditionally, the NFL does not award Super Bowls to stadiums that are located in climates with an expected average daily temperature less than 50 °F (10 °C) on game day unless the field can be completely covered by a fixed or retractable roof. Six Super Bowls have been played in northern cities: two in the Detroit area—Super Bowl XVI at Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan and Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit, two in Minneapolis—Super Bowl XXVI at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and Super Bowl LII at the U.S. Bank Stadium, one in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium for Super Bowl XLVI, and one in the New York area—Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Only MetLife Stadium did not have a roof (be it fixed or retractable) but it was still picked as the host stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII in an apparent waiver of the warm-climate rule.
There have been a few instances where the league has rescinded the Super Bowl from cities. Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 was originally awarded to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, but after Arizona voters elected not to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a paid state-employee's holiday in 1990, the NFL moved the game to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. When voters in Arizona opted to create such a legal holiday in 1992, Super Bowl XXX in 1996 was awarded to Tempe. Super Bowl XXXIII was awarded first to Candlestick Park in San Francisco, but when plans to renovate the stadium fell through, the game was moved to Pro Player Stadium in greater Miami. Super Bowl XXXVII was awarded to a new stadium not yet built in San Francisco, when that stadium failed to be built, the game was moved to San Diego. Super Bowl XLIV, slated for February 7, 2010, was withdrawn from New York City's proposed West Side Stadium, because the city, state, and proposed tenants New York Jets could not agree on funding. Super Bowl XLIV was then eventually awarded to Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 was originally given to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, but after two sales taxes failed to pass at the ballot box, and opposition by local business leaders and politicians increased, Kansas City eventually withdrew its request to host the game. Super Bowl XLIX was then eventually awarded to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
In 2011, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said, "[The Super Bowl is] commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States." According to Forbes, 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami in 2010 for the Super Bowl. Snopes research in 2015 determined that the actual number of prostitutes involved in a typical Super Bowl weekend is less than 100, not statistically higher than any other time of the year, and that the notion of mass increases in human trafficking around the Super Bowl was a politician's myth.
The location of the Super Bowl is chosen by the NFL well in advance, usually three to five years before the game. Cities place bids to host a Super Bowl and are evaluated in terms of stadium renovation and their ability to host. In 2014, a document listing the specific requirements of Super Bowl hosts was leaked, giving a clear list of what was required for a Super Bowl host. Much of the cost of the Super Bowl is to be assumed by the host community, although some costs are enumerated within the requirements to be assumed by the NFL. Some of the host requirements include:
The NFL owners meet to make a selection on the site, usually three to five years prior to the event. In 2007, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that a Super Bowl might be played in London, perhaps at Wembley Stadium. The game has never been played in a region that lacks an NFL franchise; seven Super Bowls have been played in Los Angeles, but none were held there in the 21-year period when the league had no team in the area. New Orleans, the site of the 2013 Super Bowl, invested more than $1 billion in infrastructure improvements in the years leading up to the game.
The designated "home team" alternates between the NFC team in odd-numbered games and the AFC team in even-numbered games. This alternation was initiated with the first Super Bowl, when the Green Bay Packers were the designated home team. Regardless of being the home or away team of record, each team has their team logo and wordmark painted in one of the end zones. Designated away teams have won 30 of 51 Super Bowls to date (approximately 59 percent).
Since Super Bowl XIII in January 1979, the home team is given the choice of wearing their colored or white jerseys. Originally, the designated home team had to wear their colored jerseys, which resulted in Dallas donning their less exposed dark blue jerseys for Super Bowl V. While most of the home teams in the Super Bowl have chosen to wear their colored jerseys, there have been six (6) exceptions: the Dallas Cowboys during Super Bowl XIII and XXVII, the Washington Redskins during Super Bowl XVII, the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XL, the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50, and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. The Cowboys, since 1964, have worn white jerseys at home. The Redskins wore white at home under coach Joe Gibbs starting in 1981 through 1992, continued by Richie Petitbon and Norv Turner through 2000, then again when Gibbs returned from 2004 through 2007. Meanwhile, the Steelers, who have always worn their black jerseys at home since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, opted for the white jerseys after winning three consecutive playoff games on the road, wearing white. The Steelers' decision was compared with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX; the Patriots had worn white jerseys at home during the 1985 season, but after winning road playoff games against the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins wearing red jerseys, New England opted to switch to crimson for the Super Bowl as the designated home team. For the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, Denver general manager John Elway simply stated, "We've had Super Bowl success in our white uniforms"; they previously had been 0–4 in Super Bowls when wearing their orange jerseys. The Broncos' decision is also perceived to be made out of superstition, losing all Super Bowl games with the orange jerseys in terrible fashion. It is unclear why the Patriots chose to wear their white jerseys for Super Bowl LII. During the pairing of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, New England has mostly worn their blue jerseys for home games, but have worn white for a home game in the 2008, 2010, and 2011 seasons. The New England Patriots were 3-0 in their white uniforms in Super Bowls prior to Super Bowl LII with Belichick and Brady, and they may have been going on recent trends of teams who wear white for the Super Bowl game. White-shirted teams have won 33 of 52 Super Bowls to date (63 percent). The only teams to win in their dark-colored uniform in more recent years are the Green Bay Packers against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV and the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, with teams in white winning 12 of the last 14 Super Bowls.
The 49ers, as part of the league's 75th Anniversary celebration, used their 1957 throwback uniform in Super Bowl XXIX, which for that year was their regular home jersey. No team has yet worn a third jersey or Color Rush uniform for the Super Bowl.
Fifteen different regions have hosted Super Bowls.
|City/Region||No. hosted||Years hosted|
|Miami metropolitan area||10 (11)ˇ[›]||1968, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1979, 1989, 1995, 1999, 2007, 2010, 2020ˇ[›]|
|New Orleans||10||1970, 1972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997, 2002, 2013|
|Los Angeles metropolitan area||7 (8)ˇ[›]||1967, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2022ˇ[›]|
|Tampa||4 (5)ˇ[›]||1984, 1991, 2001, 2009, 2021ˇ[›]|
|San Diego||3||1988, 1998, 2003|
|Phoenix metropolitan area||3||1996, 2008, 2015|
|Houston||3||1974, 2004, 2017|
|Atlanta||2 (3)ˇ[›]||1994, 2000, 2019ˇ[›]|
|Metro Detroit||2||1982, 2006|
|San Francisco Bay Area||2||1985, 2016|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex||1||2011|
|New York metropolitan area||1||2014|
Note: Years listed are the year the game was actually played (or will be playedˇ[›]; future games are denoted through italics) rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.
A total of twenty-six different stadiums, five of which no longer exist and one of which does not yet exist, have hosted or are scheduled to host Super Bowls. Years listed in the table below are the years the game was actually played (will be playedˇ[›]) rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.
|Stadium||Location||No. hosted||Years hosted|
|Mercedes-Benz Superdome, formerly Louisiana Superdome||New Orleans, Louisiana||7||1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997, 2002, 2013|
|Hard Rock Stadium, formerly Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, and Sun Life Stadium||Miami Gardens, Florida‡[›]||5 (6ˇ[›])||1989, 1995, 1999, 2007, 2010, 2020ˇ[›]|
|Miami Orange Bowl^[›]||Miami, Florida||5||1968, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1979|
|Rose Bowl||Pasadena, California||5||1977, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993|
|Tulane Stadium^[›]||New Orleans, Louisiana||3||1970, 1972, 1975|
|SDCCU Stadium, formerly Jack Murphy Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium||San Diego, California||3||1988, 1998, 2003|
|Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||Los Angeles, California||2||1967, 1973|
|Tampa Stadium^[›]||Tampa, Florida||2||1984, 1991|
|Georgia Dome^[›]||Atlanta, Georgia||2||1994, 2000|
|Raymond James Stadium||Tampa, Florida||2 (3ˇ[›])||2001, 2009, 2021ˇ[›]|
|University of Phoenix Stadium||Glendale, Arizona||2||2008, 2015|
|NRG Stadium, formerly Reliant Stadium||Houston, Texas||2||2004, 2017|
|Rice Stadium||Houston, Texas||1||1974|
|Pontiac Silverdome^[›]||Pontiac, Michigan||1||1982|
|Stanford Stadium††[›]||Stanford, California||1||1985|
|Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome^[›]||Minneapolis, Minnesota||1||1992|
|Sun Devil Stadium||Tempe, Arizona||1||1996|
|EverBank Field, formerly Alltel Stadium||Jacksonville, Florida||1||2005|
|Ford Field||Detroit, Michigan||1||2006|
|AT&T Stadium||Arlington, Texas||1||2011|
|Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis, Indiana||1||2012|
|MetLife Stadium||East Rutherford, New Jersey||1||2014|
|Levi's Stadium||Santa Clara, California||1||2016|
|U.S. Bank Stadium||Minneapolis, Minnesota||1||2018|
|Mercedes-Benz Stadium||Atlanta, Georgia||1ˇ[›]||2019ˇ[›]|
|Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park||Inglewood, California||1ˇ[›]||2022ˇ[›]|
^ ^: Stadium is now demolished.
^ ‡: Miami Gardens became a city in 2003. Before that, the stadium had a Miami address while in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
^ ††: The original Stanford Stadium, which hosted Super Bowl XIX, was demolished and replaced with a new stadium in 2006.
^ ˇ: Future Super Bowls, also denoted by italics.
The game has never been played in a region that lacked an NFL or AFL franchise. London, England has occasionally been mentioned as a host city for a Super Bowl in the near future. Wembley Stadium has hosted several NFL games as part of the NFL International Series and is specifically designed for large, individual events. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has openly discussed the possibility on different occasions. Time zone complications are a significant obstacle to a Super Bowl in London; a typical 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time start would result in the game beginning at 11:30 p.m. local time in London, an unusually late hour to be holding spectator sports (the NFL has never in its history started a game later than 9:15 p.m. local time). As bids have been submitted for all Super Bowls through Super Bowl LVI, the soonest that any stadium outside the NFL's footprint could serve as host would be Super Bowl LVII in 2023.
The NFL is very active on stopping what it says is unauthorized commercial use of its trademarked terms "NFL", "Super Bowl", and "Super Sunday". As a result, many events and promotions tied to the game, but not sanctioned by the NFL, are asked to refer to it with euphemisms such as "The Big Game", or other generic descriptions. A radio spot for Planters nuts parodied this, by saying "it would be super...to have a bowl...of Planters nuts while watching the big game!" and comedian Stephen Colbert began referring to the game in 2014 as the "Superb Owl". In 2015, the NFL filed opposition with the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to a trademark application submitted by an Arizona-based nonprofit for "Superb Owl". The NFL claims that the use of the phrase "Super Bowl" implies an NFL affiliation, and on this basis the league asserts broad rights to restrict how the game may be shown publicly; for example, the league says Super Bowl showings are prohibited in churches or at other events that "promote a message", while venues that do not regularly show sporting events cannot show the Super Bowl on any television screen larger than 55 inches. Some critics say the NFL is exaggerating its ownership rights by stating that "any use is prohibited", as this contradicts the broad doctrine of fair use in the United States. Legislation was proposed by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch in 2008 "to provide an exemption from exclusive rights in copyright for certain nonprofit organizations to display live football games", and "for other purposes".
In 2004, The NFL started issuing Cease and Desist letters to casinos in Las Vegas that were hosting Super Bowl parties. "Super Bowl" is a registered trademark, owned by the NFL, and any other business using that name for profit-making ventures is in violation of federal law, according to the letters. In reaction to the letters, many Vegas resorts, rather than discontinue the popular and lucrative parties, started referring to them as "Big Game Parties."
In 2006, the NFL made an attempt to trademark "The Big Game" as well; however, it withdrew the application in 2007 due to growing commercial and public-relations opposition to the move, mostly from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley and their fans, as the Stanford Cardinal football and California Golden Bears football teams compete in the Big Game, which has been played since 1892 (28 years before the formation of the NFL and 75 years before Super Bowl I). Additionally, the Mega Millions lottery game was known as The Big Game from 1996 to 2002.
Like the other major professional leagues in the United States, the winner of the Super Bowl is usually declared "world champions", a title that has been mocked by non-American journalists. Others feel the title is fitting, since it is the only professional league of its kind.
The practice by the U.S. major leagues of using the "World Champion" moniker originates from the World Series of professional baseball, and it was later used during the first three Super Bowls when they were referred to as AFL-NFL World Championship Games. The phrase is still engraved on the Super Bowl rings.
The AFC is the home team in this year's Super Bowl [Super Bowl XLII].
Media related to Super Bowl at Wikimedia Commons