It’s not an actual bowl, nor does it hold any kind of superpower. So, how does the culmination of a football season, the Big Game, a hugely-anticipated championship, get a name like the Super Bowl?
The name has always been associated with Lamar Hunt, former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s even a section of the Football Hall of Fame dedicated to Hunt called the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery. In it resides a case of replica super balls, because the story goes that Hunt was inspired by the Super Ball, a popular toy at the time, to name the game.
The first Super Bowl happened at all because the two competing leagues at the time, the NFL and AFL, or American Football Conference (which was created because a group of businessmen, Hunt, included wanted to start more football franchises, but the NFL wouldn’t let them) merged and planned a season-ending game in 1967 between the champs of each league. They called the game the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Mouthful, right?
While trying to come up with another name, Hunt, who owned the Dallas Texans and later the Chiefs until his death in 2006, came up with “Super Bowl.” His children had been obsessed with the Super Ball, basically just a very bouncy ball, and college football championships were already using the word “bowl” to refer to championships. It stuck even after challenges and re-naming conventions.
The Atlantic’s Henry D. Fetter questioned this story in 2011, citing timeline inconsistencies, but regardless of whether he’s right or wrong, the accepted story is that Mr. Hunt is the father of the Super Bowl.
As for the utilization of Roman numerals (besides Super Bowl 50), that’s just because the Super Bowl is always played in the calendar year after the year associated with its season. Just lessens the confusion!