The Super Bowl is the most watched and most analyzed American sports event. Even casual fans can rattle off a litany of facts about the Big Game.
But no matter how closely you follow professional football, there are probably some tidbits from the storied history of the Super Bowl that you aren’t aware of.
So, in honor of Super Bowl XLVII, here are 47 trivial Super Bowl facts that you may or may not be aware of.
The Origins of the Game
I. The first two Super Bowls weren’t actually called the “Super Bowl.”
They went by the less catchy, less concise moniker “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”
The National Football League and its younger rival, the American Football League, reached a merger agreement in 1966. The two leagues wouldn’t formally become one until the 1969 season, so in the meantime the winners of each league met in the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
II. The name “Super Bowl” was inspired by the “Super Ball,” a popular children’s toy from Wham-O (the company responsible for the Frisbee and Silly String).
Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and a founder of the AFL, who usually gets credit for coming up with the name, explains:
My own feeling is that it probably registered in my head because my daughter, Sharron, and my son Lamar Jr. had a children’s toy called a Super Ball, and I probably interchanged the phonetics of “bowl” and “ball.”
The media picked up on the name, and the third AFL-NFL World Championship Game, following the 1968 season, was officially called Super Bowl III.
III. When representatives of the two leagues decided to call the game the Super Bowl, they decided to number the games.
They wanted to avoid the confusion that came with having a championship game played in a different calendar year than the regular season.
For example, is next week’s game the 2012 Super Bowl, because it is the culmination of the 2012 season? Or is it the 2013 Super Bowl, because it will be played in 2013?
IV. Super Bowl I, or rather the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game, was the only Super Bowl broadcast on two networks in the United States.
At the time of the NFL-AFL merger, NBC held the AFL broadcast rights and CBS held the NFL broadcast rights. Both networks covered the first title game between the two leagues.
NBC did a better rating.
Super Bowl Winners and Losers
V. The Super Bowl Champion wins the Vince Lombardi trophy.
The trophy, named after Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi (who coached the first two Super Bowl championship teams), is handcrafted by Tiffany & Co. and hasn’t changed since it was first awarded in 1967.
The trophy was first awarded as the Vince Lombardi Trophy following Super Bowl V.
VI. Teams representing the NFC or NFL have won 25 Super Bowls.
Teams representing the AFC or AFL have won 21.
VII. The NFC holds the record for longest win streak for one conference or league.
The NFC won 13 consecutive Super Bowls from Super Bowl XIX in 1985 (49ers) through Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 (Packers).
VIII. The majority of NFL teams, 18 of 32, have won a Super Bowl in the game’s 46-year history.
28 of the league’s 32 teams have played in at least one Super Bowl. The only teams never to make a Super Bowl appearance are the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans. (The Jags and Texans, in their defense, didn’t exist until 1995 and 2002, respectively.)
IX. Ten teams have played in exactly one Super Bowl.
The Ravens, Jets, Buccaneers, and Saints won their lone Super Bowls. The Chargers, Falcons, Titans, Panthers, Seahawks, and Cardinals lost.
X. Five teams that have played in the Super Bowl are undefeated in the Super Bowl.
The San Francisco 49ers are the only team to remain undefeated after multiple Super Bowls. They are 5–0. The aforementioned Jets, Ravens, Buccaneers, and Saints are all 1–0.
XI. The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most Super Bowl victories, with 6.
Pittsburgh is 6–2 and won most recently in 2008. The 49ers and Cowboys have won five each (5–0 and 5–3, respectively).
XII. The Bills and Vikings share the unfortunate distinction of having played in four Super Bowl without ever winning one.
Every other team to appear in three or more Super Bowls has won at least once.
The Patriots and Broncos share the record for most Super Bowls lost with the Bills and Vikings. The Patriots are 3-4 in the big game; the Broncos are 2-4.
XIII. Chuck Noll, longtime coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the only head coach with four Super Bowl victories.
Bill Walsh (San Francisco), Joe Gibbs (Washington), and Bill Belichick (New England) have each coached three Super Bowl winning teams.
XIV. While only one coach won four Super Bowls, three coaches lost four Super Bowls:
Bud Grant (Minnesota), Marv Levy (Buffalo), and Dan Reeves (Denver and Atlanta).
Venues and Cities
XV. Super Bowl XLVII is the tenth held in New Orleans, which will tie Miami as the metropolitan area to host the most Super Bowls.
The seven most recent New Orleans Super Bowls (including this year’s) took place in the Superdome (now the Mercedes-Benz Superdome). The first three were played at Tulane Stadium.
The Orange Bowl hosted half of Miami’s Super Bowl’s; the current Sun Life Stadium hosted the other half.
XVI. Detroit (XVI and XL), Minneapolis (XXVI), and Indianapolis (XLVI) are the only cold weather cities to have hosted a Super Bowl.
All four Super Bowls in these cities were played in indoor stadiums.
Super Bowl XLVIII, next year at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey, will be the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city.
XVII. The Los Angeles area has hosted seven Super Bowls.
L.A. has not hosted a Super Bowl since the Raiders and Rams left the area in 1994.
XVIII. The Rose Bowl (XI, XIV, XVII, and XXI) and Stanford Stadium (Super Bowl XIX) are the only venues to host the Super Bowl without previously being the home stadium of an NFL team.
The San Francisco 49ers would play a home game at Stanford Stadium nearly five years after Super Bowl XIX because of earthquake damage to Candlestick Park, the 49ers’ full-time home.
XIX. No team has played a Super Bowl in its home stadium, though a couple have come close.
The Los Angeles Rams played Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl, 14.1 miles from their home stadium. The Rams lost 31-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Five years later the San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XIX, 38-16 over the Miami Dolphins, at Stanford Stadium, 30.7 miles from their home stadium.
Most Valuable Players
XX. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana is the only player to be named Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl three times.
Montana was the MVP of Super Bowls XVI, XIX, and XXIV.
Four players, all quarterbacks, have been named MVP twice: Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, and Eli Maning.
XXI. Super Bowl XII had two MVP.
Defensive tackle Randy White and defensive end Harvey Martin, both of the champion Dallas Cowboys, shared the award.
XXII. 25 of the 47 Super Bowl MVPs were quarterbacks.
This includes the first four: Bart Starr twice, Joe Namath, and Len Dawson.)
XXIII. 7 running backs have been Super Bowl MVP.
However, a running back has not won the award since Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII (1998).
XXIV. 6 wide receivers have been MVP of the Super Bowl.
This includes three within the last decade: the Patriots’ Deion Branch in Super Bowl XXIX, the Steelers’ Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL, and the Steelers’ Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII.
XXV. 8 defensive players have been Super Bowl MVP.
This includes three linemen, three defensive backs, and two linebackers.
XXVI. Desmond Howard of the Green Bay Packers is the only special teams player to be named Super Bowl MVP.
Howard compiled a total of 244 return yards—154 on kickoffs and 90 on punts—and one touchdown in the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI victory over the New England Patriots.
XXVII. Linebacker Chuck Howley of the Dallas Cowboys is the only player from a losing team to be named Super Bowl MVP.
He was also the first defensive player and non-quarterback to win the award.
Howley intercepted two passes, returning one 22 yards, and recovered a fumble in a close loss to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V. That Super Bowl is sometimes called the “Blunder Bowl” because the teams combined for 10 turnovers (6 interceptions and 4 lost fumbles).
Howley refused to accept his MVP award because his team lost.
XXVIII. No team has ever been held scoreless in a Super Bowl.
The Miami Dolphins scored a record low three points against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI (1972). That Dolphins team would recover from its Super Bowl humiliation to become the only undefeated NFL team of the Super Bowl era the following year.
XXIX. The San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV set records for most total points (55) and largest margin of victory (45, over the Denver Broncos).
They did not, however, set the record for most points in any individual quarter.
XXX. Washington holds the record for most total yards in a Super Bowl, 602 in a 42-10 Super Bowl XXII win over the Broncos.
Washington quarterback Doug Williams threw for 322 yards and running back Timmy Smith ran for a record 204 yards.
XXXI. Defensive end and linebacker Charles Haley was a member of five Super Bowl-winning teams, more than any other player in NFL history.
He was on the 49ers teams that won Super Bowls XXIII and XXIV and the Cowboys teams that won Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX.
XXXII. Defensive lineman Mike Lodish played in six Super Bowls, more than any other player.
After losing four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, Lodish won two rings with the Denver Broncos.
XXXIII. Wide receiver Jerry Rice holds the record for most Super Bowl touchdowns with six.
He scored five touchdowns for the 49ers in Super Bowls XXIII, XXIV, and XIX and one for the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Rice’s former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana holds the record for most passing touchdowns in the Super Bowl with 11.
XXXIV. Montana and Jim Plunkett, of the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, are the only quarterbacks to throw more than 40 passes in Super Bowls without throwing an interception.
Plunkett attempted 46 passes without an interception; Montana attempted 122. Neither quarterback lost a Super Bowl.
XXXV. In Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots attempted a record 48 passes without throwing an interception.
But did so in a losing effort.
XXXVI. In Super Bowl XLIV, quarterbacks Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts combined to complete 75 percent of their passes, a Super Bowl record.
Phil Simms of the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXI completed a record 88 percent of his passes in Super Bowl XXI.
XXXVII. “The Super Bowl Shuffle” was nominated for a Grammy.
Recorded by players on the 1985 Chicago Bears as “The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew,” the song hit #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy for best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group. (“Kiss” by Prince won.)
The Shufflin’ Crew won Super Bowl XX over the New England Patriots 46-10.
XXXVIII. The 1985 Bears weren’t the first Super Bowl winning team to record a pop song.
The 1984 San Francisco 49ers were responsible for this tune:
XXXIX. The first three Super Bowl halftime shows featured neither aging rock legends nor chart-topping pop stars but college marching bands.
Halftime of the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game (Super Bowl I) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum featured the marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University, along with the Anaheim High School drill team.
College marching bands were mainstays of Super Bowl halftime shows until the early 1990s.
XL. Up With People, an educational organization devoted to bringing people together across cultures, produced and starred in four Super Bowl halftime shows in the 1970s and 1980s: Super Bowls X, XIV, XVI, and XX.
XLI. Michael Jackson was the sole performer during halftime of Super Bowl XXVII in 1993.
For the first time ever, ratings for the game—in which the Cowboys easily beat the Buffalo Bills 52-17—actually went up during halftime.
The King of Pop’s success began a trend of turning over the halftime show to pop stars and rock legends.
Prior to that game, in January 1978 between the Cowboys and Broncos, Hall of Famer Red Grange, running back for the Chicago Bears in the 1920s and 1930s, did the coin toss.
XLIII. Then-President Ronald Reagan performed the coin toss prior to Super Bowl XIX.
XLIV. O.J. Simpson did the coin toss at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 in Pasadena.
This was 17 months before, well, you know.
XLV. The cost of a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl I was $42,000.
That price was true for both NBC and CBS.
XLVI. The cost of a 30-second commercial during the CBS broadcast of this year’s game is $4 million.
XLVII. While dozens of pairs and sets of brothers have played in the NFL during the Super Bowl era, no brothers have ever faced each other as players on opposing teams in a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVII, featuring coaches John and Jim Harbaugh, will be the first Super Bowl to pit brothers against each other, as either players or coaches.
(But you’ve probably had enough of that storyline.)