The Super Bowl is without doubt one the biggest sporting occasions in the world. It’s the final game to the NFL (National Football League) season and with crowns the champions for that season. The winners are immortalised and go down as legends of the game, often ending up in the NFL Hall Of Fame as a result.
What’s even more remarkable about the Super Bowl is the attraction that the game gets from around the world. Given then few countries actually play American football, especially in a professional standard, the viewing figures are actually quite staggering, more of which we will talk about later in this article.
Super Bowl Recent Winners
|Year||Winning Team||Losing Team||Score||Location|
|2021||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Kansas City Chiefs||31-9||Florida|
|2020||Kansas City Chiefs||San Francisco 49ers||31-20||Florida|
|2019||New England Patriots||Los Angeles Rams||13-3||Georgia|
|2018||Philadelphia Eagles||New England Patriots||41-33||Minnesota|
|2017||New England Patriots||Atlanta Falcons||34-28||Texas|
|2016||Denver Broncos||Carolina Panthers||24-10||California|
|2015||New England Patriots||Seattle Seahawks||28-24||Arizona|
|2014||Seattle Seahawks||Denver Broncos||43-8||New Jersey|
|2013||Baltimore Ravens||San Francisco 49ers||34-31||Louisiana|
|2012||New York Giants||New England Patriots||21-17||Indiana|
About the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is a single game, which signifies the end of the NFL season for that year. It brings together two teams in the winner of the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). The teams are essentially the winners of their own leagues and then represent this league in a game to become National Football League champions.
The game takes in the first weekend of February and is always played on a Sunday. Depending on where the host is for the game that year will depend on the season, but the majority are spring time within the US. The game is represented on this date as the NFL starts the first weekend after Labor Day within the US, thus lasting 17 weeks in total and then ending within the first week of February.
Whilst the first weekend of February is the norm now, it hasn’t always been played on this date. For many years the Super Bowl fell within early to mid-January, this was because only 1 round of playoff games took place, meaning that teams were playing 14 instead of 16 games prior to the Super Bowl.
Format & Scoring
The Scoring system for the Super Bowl remains the same as any other regular season NFL game. Six points are awarded for a touchdown and then following a touchdown the team can try for either an extra 1 or 2 points. If the team decides to kick the ball then only 1 point is on offer, if they decide to run the ball then a possible two points are on offer. It’s worth noting that should the kicker miss or the team fail to convert the ball into the end-zone for the extra 2 points, then the team will be awarded no extra points. Additionally, 3 points are awarded for a field goal which must be kicked.
In total there are 60 minutes on the clock for the Super Bowl. This is broken down into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. But, the clock is frequently stopped after certain passages of play, such as a player going into touch or a team calling a time out. This means that games can often take much longer than 60 minutes in theory, with the Super Bowl being one of the longest games of the season due to an extended half time break.
A common misconception is that NFL games can’t end in a tie, but this isn’t true. If a regular season game is tied after 60 minutes, then overtime will be played. This is an additional 10 minutes and the team with the most points in that period wins the game. If the scores are still equal, the game after 10 minutes, a tie will be the result.
But, in the playoffs and the Super Bowl included a tie cannot happen. Instead, overtime will be played as 15-minute sections until a winner is found. Super Bowl 51 was the first game to go to overtime when Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots were tied 28-28. Patriots won the game by scoring a touchdown on their first drive.
Teams and Conferences
In total there are 32 teams that compete in the NFL. These teams are split into two conferences in the AFC and NFC, with 16 teams appearing in each. The regular season see’s each team play 16 games in total and the schedule is set by a pre-determined formula working on a rotating cycle each year.
Within each conference there are 4 divisions, that are split into North, South, East and West, of which 4 teams occupy each division. There are in total 12 teams that qualify through to what is known as the postseason. The 12 teams are made up of the 4 highest ranked teams from each conference and 2 wildcard picks, which are essentially best 2nd place teams.
AFC Teams, Stadiums & Owners
|Baltimore Ravens||North||M&T Bank Stadium, Maryland||Steve Bisciotti|
|Buffalo Bills||East||Bills Stadium, New York||Terry & Kim Pegula|
|Cincinnati Bengals||North||Paul Brown Stadium, Ohio||Mike Brown|
|Cleveland Browns||North||FirstEnergy Stadium||Jimmy Haslam, Ohio|
|Denver Broncos||West||Mile High Stadium, Colorado||Pat Bowlen’s Estate|
|Houston Texans||South||NRG Stadium, Texas||Janice McNair|
|Indianapolis Colts||South||Lucas Oil Stadium, Indiana||Jim Irsay|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||South||TIAA Bank Field, Florida||Shahid Kahn|
|Kansas City Chiefs||West||Arrowhead Stadium, Missouri||Hunt family|
|Las Vegas Raiders||West||Allegiant Stadium, Nevada||Mark Davis|
|Los Angeles Chargers||West||SoFi Stadium, California||Dean Spanos|
|Miami Dolphins||East||Hard Rock Stadium, Florida||Stephen M. Ross|
|New England Patriots||East||Gillette Stadium, Massachusetts||Robert Kraft|
|New York Jets||East||MetLife Stadium, New Jersey||Woody & Christopher Johnson|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||North||Heinz Field, Pennsylvania||Rooney family|
|Tennessee Titans||South||Nissan Stadium, Nashville||Amy Adams Strunk|
NFC Teams, Stadiums & Owners
|Arizona Cardinals||West||State Farm Stadium, Glendale||Michael Bidwill|
|Atlanta Falcons||South||Mercedez-Benz Stadium, Georgia||Arthur Blank|
|Carolina Panthers||South||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte||David Tepper|
|Chicago Bears||North||Soldier Field, Illinois||Virginia Halas McCaskey|
|Dallas Cowboys||East||AT&T Stadium, Texas||Jerry Jones|
|Detroit Lions||North||Ford Field, Michigan||Sheila Ford Hamp|
|Green Bay Packers||North||Lambeau Field, Wisconsin||Fan Owned|
|Los Angeles Rams||West||SoFi Stadium, California||Stan Kroenke|
|Minnesota Vikings||North||U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis||Zygi Wilf|
|New Orleans Saints||South||Mercedez-Benz Superdome, Louisiana||Gayle Benson|
|New York Giants||East||MetLife Stadium, New Jersey||John Mara & Steve Tisch|
|Philadelphia Eagles||East||Lincoln Financial Field, Pennsylvania||Jeffrey Lurie|
|San Francisco 49ers||West||Levi’s Stadium, California||Denise DeBartolo York|
|Seattle Seahawks||West||Lumen Field, Washington||Jody Allen|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||South||Raymond James Stadium, Florida||Glazer Family|
|Washington Football Team||East||FedEx Field, Maryland||Daniel Snyder|
At this point, teams from the two conferences are kept apart as they only play teams from within their own conference. There is a Wild Card round, Divisional Round and then the Conference Championship. For each stage of the playoffs, including the Conference Championships, home field advantage goes to the team with the highest seeding from the regular season. The winner of each Conference Championship will be the two teams that represent these conferences in the Super Bowl.
NFL Play-Off Format
|Wild Card Games||Divisional Play-Offs||Conference Championships|
|AFC Seed 4
AFC Seed 5
|AFC Seed 1 Versus
Lowest Winning AFC Wildcard Seed
|Winner AFC Play-Off 1
Winner AFC Play-Off 2
|AFC Seed 3
AFC Seed 6
|AFC Seed 2 Versus
Highest AFC Winning Wildcard Seed
|NFC Seed 4
NFC Seed 5
|NFC Seed 1 Versus
Lowest NFC Winning Wildcard Seed
|Winner NFC Play-Off 1
Winner NFC Play-Off 2
|NFC Seed 3
NFC Seed 6
|NFC Seed 2 Versus
Highest Winning NFC Wildcard Seed
The venues that are chosen for the Super Bowl are based on a rota and are decided by the owners of the NFL. Previously the owners would allow three cities within the US to bid for the Super Bowl and then the award goes to the highest bidder.
But, from 2018 the process changed, in that the owners choose just one city and then worked out a deal from there. This allows the owners to have a better say in where they want their marquee event to be hosted and to essentially allow them to pick the best possible stadium for the job.
Future Super Bowl Locations
|2022||LVI||SoFi Stadium||Inglewood, California|
|2023||LVII||State Farm Stadium||Glendale, Arizona|
|2025||LIX||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||New Orleans, Louisiana|
In the past, often cities with more temperate climates at that time of year have been able to host the Super Bowl, such as Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Tampa, the four most common selections to host.
The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events in the world. It’s strange, given that so few countries play the sport, but many tune in to watch some of the worlds greatest athletes in what is a massive spectacle for both American football fans and non-American football fans.
Typically, the Super Bowl is able to attract a US TV audience of around 100 million people and is very much seen as unofficial national holiday for most residents. The only other annual sporting event that sees bigger viewing figures is the Champions League Final.
A common misconception that people have or have been told is that the Super Bowl gets a worldwide viewing audience of around 1 billion people from over 200 countries. But, these figures aren’t actually the number of people who tune in, more the global audience that they could potentially reach, two very different facts.
A study that was carried out by initiative, a New York media company, saw that the Super Bowl that year got viewing figures of 93 million people, with 98% of the total viewing figures coming from residents within the US. This means that only 2 million from outside the US watched the Super Bowl that year.
But, the viewing numbers for the Super Bowl have risen since then and in 2015 the record was broken for the highest average number of viewers of the Super Bowl to that of 114.4million. It’s the most viewed game of any sporting event in the history of the US. Interestingly though, the half time show, of which is one of the many highlights of the Super Bowl, saw average figures of 118.5 million people.
Super Bowl Adverts
The TV adverts are, oddly, another popular feature regarding the Super Bowl. Given that manufacturers and companies will have not have a bigger audience to pitch their products to via TV, the Super Bowl commands some staggering figures for its advertisements. It’s rumoured that a 30 second advert in the US can cost as much as $3.5 million to be shown just once during the Super Bowl show. The adverts are actually so popular with viewers that in 2010 Nielson conducted a report that highlighted that 51% of viewers tune in for the commercials.
In the 5 years between 2014 and 2019, one team, the New England Patriots, dominated Super Bowl appearances like no other. The Pats made four of the five Super Bowls, winning three of them to take their overall record to 11 appearances, 6 wins and 5 losses.
In 2018 they were involved in a Super Bowl that will go down as one of the most entertaining and highest scoring of all-time. In fact, the 33 points scored by the Patriots is the highest number of points scored by a losing team in the Super Bowl, eventually running out 41-33 defeat to that of the Philadelphia Eagles.
A year prior to that in 2017, the Patriots were able to win their 5th ‘ring’ and by doing so they did so in dramatic fashion. They came from 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons midway through the third quarter to come back and win in overtime. In 50 Super Bowl’s previous to that, no game had ever gone into overtime.
Super Bowl 50 was an iconic year for the business and the Super Bowl was played out between that of the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Denver ran out 24-10 winners, with legendary quarterback, Peyton Manning, announcing his retirement after the game.
American football was first thought to be played in 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton, who were two college teams. The game was actually a mix between soccer and rugby, where players weren’t able to pick the ball up, but could advance it with any body part they should choose. Rutgers went on to the win the game 6-4.
The game evolved over the years, but it was in 1875 when representatives of Harvard and Yale played a game that was more like rugby, than the soccer-based game mentioned above. They sat down and formed a committee that outlined a specific set of rules. Yale player Walter Camp was the figurehead behind the rules and was also mastermind behind changing the scrum format to that of the snap, in order to create a more definitive start to each play.
The professional era started to take shape in 1892 and it was thought that William “Pudge” Heffelfinger was the first player to be paid to play American football. His fee was $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. As teams got wind of this, it signalled the start of professional outfits and in 1920 the National Football League came up with solutions to solve the then problems to players being paid to play the sport.
By 1922 the NFL had been fully established and put rules in place for players to move between clubs and also introducing what were essentially salary caps, a key aspect that the NFL still follows through with even today. The NFL way of playing was very different to that of the college games, with a much bigger emphasis on passing the football compared to kicking. This essentially would go on to develop into the game you see today.
The sport and the league really started to take off by 1958 when a game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants gripped millions of viewers across America and is still widely regarded as the greatest game ever played, finishing up in a 23-17 victory to the Colts.
The AFL emerged in 1960 and quickly grew to be stiff opposition for the already established NFL. They were able to form teams of their own and also add new features to the game such as game time clocks on scoreboards, jersey numbers and even sign some of the best players from college, in what is essentially now the draft.
In 1966, enough was enough and instead of trying to outdo each other in crazy player bidding wars, the NFL and AFL merged into one, whilst still keeping their own conferences. It was decided that at the end of the season the best two teams from each conference would result in a World Championship game. After the merger, it was no longer a game between two leagues and instead, the Super Bowl was born in 1967.
The joint most successful teams in Super Bowl history are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won 6 times from their 8 appearances in the Super Bowl, and the New England Patriots who also have 6 wins from their 11 Super Bowls. No team has made more appearances than the New England Patriots and they are arguably the most successful team of the modern era.
There are 4 teams that have never made an appearance at the Super bowl and these are the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans.
There are few more iconic names in American football than that of Vince Lombardi. He’d done it all in his time within the sport; played, coached and general managed, seeing huge success in each field.
He saw success within the military, when he was able to coach a highly successful team before alter moving to the New York Giants as an offensive coordinator. It was rumoured that the then president, JFK, begged Lombardi to return to coach the military team, but he refused and instead worked within the NFL.
He had 8 years as head coach to the Green Bay Packers and in that time, he went on to win a staggering five Conference Championships, along with the first two Super Bowls in 1967 and 1968. Lombardi was known for being beyond meticulous and after his death in 1970, aged just 57, the Super Bowl trophy was renamed the Lombardi trophy as a mark of respect to his dedication to the sport.
Super Bowl Rings
Whilst the teams get the Lombardi trophy, each winning player will be awarded a Super Bowl ring. The ring is essentially their medal for being on the winning team. Given the sheer volume of players, coaches and staff that are involved in an NFL team, the league leave it up to each team to determine who should get the rings, with some even doing giveaways to fans.
Often the rings will be classed in terms of A, B and C, with the lower classes being smaller in size and value, compared with the higher-class rings which will be awarded to the players.
Each team is able to choose the makeup of the ring, for example, following on from being 28-3 down on the way to their 2017 Super Bowl victory, the New England Patriots got 283 diamonds in each.
San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana
The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams to have played in the Super bowl winning on 5 separate occasions. The glory days may be behind them, but the team they had in the 80’s will always go down as one of the best.
They were led by Joe Montana, a quarterback who was signed in 1980 to help bolster the team that was starting to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Montana went on to win 4 Super Bowls with the 49ers and was named MVP on three occasions, a feat that has never been eclipsed. He also holds the highest quarter back rating of any player, with a 127.8 average and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.