Did the NFL Really Once Offer a Prize to Avoid Calling Its Championship Game the Super Bowl?
FOOTBALL LEGEND: The National Football League (NFL) offered a prize to avoid having its championship game called the Super Bowl.
As I pointed out in an old Football Legends Revealed about how the Super Bowl received its name,
In the late 1960s, the National Football League and the American Football League began working on a merger of the two leagues. The merger would go slowly but surely, but would begin with the two leagues competing in a championship game at the end of the season similar to the World Series (which pits the American League against the National League) in baseball.
The first championship game took place on January 15, 1967, where the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. The game, at the time, was not called the Super Bowl, but simply the AFL–NFL World Championship Game.
During merger meetings that went on at the time (as the two leagues were still finalizing plans for the merger – the merger had only been agreed on six months earlier), there was debate over what they should call the championship game. Baseball had the “World Series,” so what should football have?
As I pointed out, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, whose team lost the first AFL-NFL Championship Game, said at the time “the Super Bowl—that’s my term for the championship game between the two leagues,” and obviously, that’s the name that caught on, and starting with the Colts/Jets title game in 1969, the game was officially dubbed the Super Bowl.
However, as I again pointed out in that Football Legends Revealed, the name came from a toy called the Super Ball that Hunt’s son had, and, well, you can imagine that a lot of people really didn’t like the idea of naming such a big game on a children’s toy. One of those people was NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Therefore, in the months following the original championship game, Rozelle actively asked reporters who followed the NFL for better names than Super Bowl, even offering a prize to the person who came up with the name that was chosen (he noted that he didn’t want to go so far as to get the public involved, but he figured reporters might have some ideas).
A spokesperson for Rozelle noted about the term “Super Bowl”: “We’ve never used Super Bowl officially or unofficially. Not many people like it. It’s a nickname, and it’s a bad play on words. Everything becomes super this and super that.”
Some of the early suggestions by reporters to Rozelle’s informal contest were “The Merger Bowl,” “The Summit Bowl” and “The Game” (Rozelle himself was partial to “The Big One”).
Obviously, nothing stuck out that was better than Super Bowl, especially since the public had already made ITS voice heard by adopting that name pretty much fully, so the league just gave in and officially adopted the name in 1969.
The legend is…
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