The NFL is the only league of the four major North American sports that use roman numerals in the moniker of its championship. The MLB, NBA, and NHL all use the year in which the championship occurs. But the NFL decided to go a different route with their naming convention.
Everyone knows this, but not everyone knows how we got to Super Bowl LVI and not Super Bowl 56. Former Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt presented the Roman numeral system to avoid confusion. This was thought to be easier, as the NFL season starts in late summer and doesn’t end until early in the next calendar year. So, LVI would be Super Bowl ‘22 for the year the game will take place instead. Not all that complicated, especially back in the early 1970s with Super Bowl V (5) when the league adopted the roman numeral model after the AFL-NFL merger. Hunt also felt Roman numerals added pomp and gravitas to the game.
In 2022, however, it may soon be time for the NFL to consider dropping the roman numerals. It doesn’t have to be the year; it could be 57 next year instead of LVII. Most people don’t care about the numbering system of the Super Bowl and care even less about Roman numerals. The league could make the change, and I don’t think anyone under the age of 80 would give a crap.
Mr. Hunt’s idea of using Roman numerals back in 1970 for Super Bowl V is understandable. It was the first year of the merger and only the fifth big game of its kind. The NFL wanted to be different and catch people’s attention, and the game at that time was not established as the biggest sporting event in North America. So trying out something like this made sense. The Super Bowl is well established now, as is the NFL. Roman numerals are a bit outdated. We’ll have Super Bowl C (100) in a few decades. Sit and stew on the aesthetics of that year’s branding for a minute.
The only other large sports (entertainment) brand that has utilized the Roman numeral system for a long time in North America is WWE. Vince McMahon and company no longer use the system, and haven’t since WrestleMania XXX in 2014. The WWE (formerly WWF) began using Roman numerals during the promotion for Wrestlemania III in 1987.
Besides, most people stopped paying attention to roman numerals after X. Knowing the NFL though, they’ll continue to ride it out with the roman system regardless of what anyone thinks. Anything short of the owners acknowledging this and pushing for a change, then we’re likely stuck with the Roman numerals attached to the Super Bowl for at least a couple more decades.
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