The Accidental Origins of the Super Bowl’s Name

On November 21, 1914, Yale’s football team played the first game in a brand new stadium known as the Yale Bowl — so named because the seats fully encircled the field. It was the first bowl-shaped arena in American football. The 1930s saw the creation of the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sun Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl. The phrase “bowl game” quickly became shorthand for any postseason college football game. In 1950, the NFL christened its all-star game “the Pro Bowl,” while the NCAA called their clashes “the Iron Bowl.” In 1966, the NFL and the AFL agreed that they would maintain separate schedules until 1970. After the 1966 season, the best team in each league would battle it out for a championship title. A committee of 8 began hammering out the details. When it came to the name of the event, they came up with the name “Super Bowl.” NBC and CBS had both agreed to broadcast it, and on Jan. 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs played in Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Packers defeated the Chiefs by a score of 35-10, and the annual Super Bowl game was off and running.