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A Brief History of the Superbowl

By Lance Trebesch February 8, 2013

This weekend’s Super Bowl broadcast was the third most watched television show of all time. In the history of TV, three Super Bowl broadcasts have made the top three spots of the most watched shows list. Last year’s Super Bowl reigns supreme, with a record 111 million Americans tuning in for the showdown. This year, the Super Bowl hosted 108 million Americans, only losing some of the crowd when half the lights of the Superdome went down.

But not everybody tunes in for the sport. It is widely known that a huge chunk of those millions and millions of people only tune in to the 3-4 hour program, for the 30 second intervals of entertainment that comes between the touchdowns and field goals. Some people even like to celebrate Super Bowl Sundays like it is a national holiday. Which isn’t too absurd considering Super Bowl Sunday comes only behind Thanksgiving Day in terms of American food consumption.

The Super Bowl wasn’t always a national pastime though. It only came to conception in 1967, after the 1966 regular season, and was originally called the “AFL-NFL Championship Game.” This name was used for the first three years of the matchup between the NFL organization and the newly formed AFL organization, until their merger in 1970 became official. The two joined forces when the AFL threatened to pull away fans and sponsors. The matchup, Super Bowl, game between the two leagues was part of the merger agreement. It was Kansas City Chiefs owner, Lamar Hunt, who first coined the title, “Super Bowl.” While the organization stuck to their original title, “AFL-NFL Championship Game”, it was only after the media caught wind of the Super Bowl phrase and ran with it, that the organization changed their title.

After 1970, and the official merger between the AFL and the NFL, the organization split the league into two conferences. Most of the AFL, plus three original NFL teams would make up the new American Football Conference (AFC); the remaining original NFL teams would make the National Football Conference (NFC). The Super Bowl would now be played the best team from each conference.

The grand prize of the greatest game in American football is the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Vince Lombardi was the coach of the Green Bay Packers, leading the team to two consecutive Super Bowl wins, the first two in the history of the game. Lombardi also led the Packers to three of the five preceding NFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965. After his death in 1970, the trophy of the Super Bowl was named for him.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the record for the most Super Bowl games won, with six titles under their belt. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have five victories each; and both the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have four Super Bowl championships. My hometown team, the Detroit Lions, unfortunately have not made a Super Bowl appearance, along with three other teams: the Cleveland Browns, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Houston Texans. There is always next year though. Maybe a fresh team, some new commercials, and a ton of chips and beer.