Super Bowl history
Conference rivals clashed at first Super Bowl in history
Cave men in tatters probably were the culprits who set the not-yet-invented wheels in motion. They likely found uses for the skulls of wild animals killed with jagged rocks. Perhaps they tossed the skulls around some, flinging the bony projectiles back and forth to each other—just for fun. The afternoon wore on and the howling ball-handlers formed two rival groups. Thus was born the world's first football team—predecessor to the Super Bowl.
Chances are good these primitive players finally collapsed in the shade and commanded their mates to bring tidbits of smoked mastodon and quaffs of berry juice. And be quick about it. The timeline may be far-fetched but the origins of football go way, way back. Team games resembling football are found in the chronicles of many early civilizations, in many parts of the world.
Who invented the game of football?
The Super Bowl had plenty of ancestors besides cave men. Sports lovers in China more than 2,000 years before Christ played a game resembling football. Greeks and Romans indulged. Later, Scotsmen and Englishmen developed their skills and football—in contrast to rugby and soccer—evolved in its own rite despite occasional labels as a rowdy pastime.
How did Americans learn about football?
Professional football teams in America arose in many major cities. College players as well as natural athletes from all walks of life were recruited. The American Professional Football League (APFA) was formed in 1920 to better organize the sport. Two years later it became through a name change The National Football League (NFL).
A brash, younger league—the American Football League (AFL)—formed in 1959 as sports fans proliferated and television ratings soared. Both leagues had some strong players. Testosterone and adrenaline eventually demanded a face-off to see who the best of the best in all of America.
When did the leagues first challenge each other?
It was a 1967 football competition—Super Bowl I—between Green Bay of the NFL and Kansas City of the AFL that initiated newcomers to a large-scale competition. The premier NFL-AFL World Championship Game consisted of the two teams who vanquished all the other teams in a series of season playoffs. Televisions hummed. Food sales skyrocketed. Kids were sent into the January chill to play outdoors when dads and their buddies confiscated the living room couch.
The next few years saw some strong players face each other but football fever exploded for real when Jets powerhouse Joe Namath riled up the crowds in the 1969 Super Bowl's New York Jets-Baltimore Colts clash. The Jets skunked the Colts with a score of 16-7 and the game marked a new era in viewer enthusiasm.
Why are Roman numerals assigned to Super Bowl games?
These Super Bowl world championships were identified by Roman numerals because the Bowls were played in January but the season ending on New Year's Eve is what counted. And as of 1971, the winning team received a coveted award—the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named posthumously in honor of Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi who fell to cancer in 1970. It was his guidance that helped win for the Packers the first two Super Bowls ever played.
Does any particular Super Bowl stand out as a crowd favorite?
Football fanatics all over America tend to agree that one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history was held in January of 2007 when the New England Patriots went up against the New York Giants. The Patriots that season had no losses—until the final moments of Super Bowl XLII (Super Bowl 42). Television announcers talked incessantly about how badly the Giants were going to be whooped. But nobody told that to the Giants. When the game was finished, the Giants shook the ground as they stomped away victorious with a shocking win and a score of 17-14.
Who knows what will be written about Super Bowl history in the next century? Athletes are bigger, stronger and a lot smarter than the cave men of prehistoric times. Entertainment at half-time during the Super Bowl has attained a grandeur that would make Las Vegas seem boring. Every so often, female fans clamor for a high-level league of women players. And Super Bowl Sunday has not yet been declared a national holiday but who knows what the future will bring?