The Crown Jewel Of US Events
The advent of television had a seismic effect on professional football. In the first half of the 20th century, baseball was the most popular and most widely-talked about sport in the United States - with figures like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle becoming icons.
Football was popular during these years, but its status as a huge cultural force wasn’t fully realised until the 1958 NFL Championship Game, where the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants 23-17 in what would be dubbed ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’. The game, which was broadcasted all over the country by NBC, proved to be football’s turning point.
The American Football League (AFL) was formed two years later to capitalise on football’s exploding popularity. After ten seasons, the division was merged with the NFL, with two conferences depending on the location of the teams.
The first Super Bowl took place on 15 January 1967 and it featured AFL champions Kansas City Chiefs taking on the NFL champions, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, reigned supreme and took home the first-ever Super Bowl trophy, named after Lombardi himself.
The introduction of colour television came at the right time for football as it helped the emerging sport appear modern, trendy, and highly engaging. The sport also idealised the mid-century ‘American Dream’ that was such a large part of American culture - players from all walks-of-life joining together with the common goal of success for the team. Football was in the right place at the right time, and the Super Bowl provided the glamour and over-the-top pomp and circumstance the country is so revered for.
The Super Bowl is also referred to as ‘the Big Game’, particularly by broadcasters who do not have the rights to the game’s logo or overall brand.
Notable Super Bowls
The Super Bowl is always a spectacle, and viewers will most likely be entertained even if the game itself is disappointing.
In the 55 total Super Bowls, there have been a select few whose games are still talked about today.
Super Bowl LI (2017)
The 2017 edition of the Super Bowl was the first, and so far only, to reach overtime, and it’s considered one of the greatest football games of all-time.
The Tom Brady-led Patriots fought back from a 28-3 deficit to win the Super Bowl in stunning fashion. The Atlanta Falcons dominated the majority of the encounter and their late-game collapse still echoes in the memories of their fans.
Super Bowl LI is unlikely to ever be topped in terms of drama and suspense.
Super Bowl XIII (1979)
The 35-31 meeting between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys showcased everything the Super Bowl is revered for.
Both teams were littered with players who are now in the Hall of Fame, but it was the legendary Terry Bradshaw who took centre-stage. The Steelers quarterback’s performance is still widely-heralded today, and it’s often studied by fans and pros alike.
Super Bowl XLII (2008)
One of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history took place at Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona.
The heavily-favoured New England Patriots were fresh from their best-ever season, completing a spotless regular season record for the first time in NFL history, whereas the New York Giants were hoping to become the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl.
The Patriots were leading 14-10 in the fourth quarter, before a game-winning drive dramatically swung things in the Giants’ favour. The most memorable play in Super Bowl history saw David Tyree complete a one-handed catch by pinning the ball against the crown of his helmet. The ‘Helmet Catch’ has gone down in Super Bowl folklore as one of its greatest-ever moments, and Tyree’s heroics were instrumental in bringing the Lombardi Trophy to New York.
Fun Super Bowl Facts
- The New England Patriots have appeared in 11 Super Bowls - the most of any franchise
- Miami has hosted 11 Super bowls, more than any other city
- Super Bowl Sunday is behind only Thanksgiving as the highest-eating day in the United States. Each year, around 8 million pounds of guacamole is made.
- The University of California has produced the highest amount of Super Bowl-starting quarterbacks,with 8
- The Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and Cleveland Browns are the only NFL teams who have never appeared at the Super Bowl
- Artists who perform at the famous half-time show are not paid, instead receiving massive exposure.
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