The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the NFL, the highest level of professional football in the United States. The Super Bowl normally uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 15, 1967, following the 1966 regular season. The single exception to this rule is Super Bowl 50, which is scheduled to be played on February 7, 2016.
The game was created as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival league, the American Football League (AFL). It was agreed that the two leagues' champion teams would play in the AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the merger was to officially begin in 1970.
For four decades after its 1920 inception, the NFL successfully fended off several rival leagues. However, in 1960, it encountered its most serious competitor when the American Football League (AFL) was formed. The AFL vied heavily with the NFL for both players and fans, but by the middle of the decade the strain of competition led to serious merger talks between the two leagues. Prior to the 1966 season, the NFL and AFL reached a merger agreement that was to take effect for the 1970 season. As part of the merger, the champions of the two leagues agreed to meet in a world championship game for professional American football until the merger was effected.
The "Super Bowl" name was derived from the bowl game, a post-season college football game. The original "bowl game" was the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California, which was first played in 1902 as the "Tournament East-West football game" as part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and moved to the new Rose Bowl Stadium in 1923. The stadium got its name from the fact that the game played there was part of the Tournament of Roses and that it was shaped like a bowl, much like the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut; the Tournament of Roses football game itself eventually came to be known as the Rose Bowl Game. Exploiting the Rose Bowl Game's popularity, post-season college football contests were created for Miami (the Orange Bowl), New Orleans (the Sugar Bowl), and El Paso, Texas (the Sun Bowl) in 1935, and for Dallas (the Cotton Bowl) in 1937. Thus, by the time the first Super Bowl was played, the term "bowl" for any big-time American football game was well established.
After the NFL's Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, some team owners feared for the future of the merger. At the time, many doubted the competitiveness of AFL teams compared with their NFL counterparts, though that perception changed when the AFL's New York Jets defeated the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami. One year later, the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL's Minnesota Vikings 23–7 in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans, which was the final AFL-NFL World Championship Game played before the merger. Beginning with the 1970 season, the NFL realigned into two conferences; the former AFL teams plus three NFL teams (the Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns) would constitute the American Football Conference (AFC), while the remaining NFL clubs would form the National Football Conference (NFC). The champions of the two conferences would play each other in the Super Bowl.
ince Lombardi Trophy, named after the coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowl games and three of the five preceding The winning team receives the VNFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965. Following Lombardi's death in September 1970, the trophy was named the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and was the first awarded as such to the Baltimore Colts following their win in Super Bowl V in Miami.
On May 19, 2015, the league announced the five finalists for hosting Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and Super Bowl LIV in 2020. NFL team owners voted on these cities on May 24, 2016, with the first round of voting to determine the host for Super Bowl LIII, and the second round deciding the site for Super Bowl LIV. In a development not known in advance, a third round of voting was added to select a Super Bowl LV hosting site. Atlanta and Miami were awarded Super Bowls LIII and LIV respectively, removing them from the running for LV. Los Angeles was not eligible for Super Bowl LIII, as their stadium was under construction and would not yet be finished; it was eligible for LIV and LV, and opted to bid only on the latter.
The two candidates were:
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida: Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls, the last being Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California: Los Angeles has hosted the Super Bowl seven times, most recently in 1993 with Super Bowl XXVII; that game, along with the four prior Super Bowls in the area, was held at the Rose Bowl while the first two Super Bowls in the Los Angeles area were held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Los Angeles was originally chosen as the host site for Super Bowl LV in a vote on May 24, 2016. However, due to construction delays, authorities announced that the stadium would not be completed until the start of the 2020 NFL season. On May 23, 2017, NFL owners voted unanimously, with the Rams' approval, to move Super Bowl LV to Tampa. The City of Inglewood will instead host Super Bowl LVI in 2022.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
As of the start of the 2020 NFL season, the league had forbidden on-field entertainment, such as halftime shows and national anthem performances at games with spectators. These elements, which have historically been cornerstones of the Super Bowl entertainment, would be produced off-site if restrictions remain in place. On November 12, it was announced that The Weeknd was to perform at the halftime show.
In case a COVID-19 outbreak forced the postponements of regular season and playoff games, the league stated that Super Bowl LV could be delayed as far as February 28.
The state of Florida removed capacity restrictions for sporting events in October, although the three Florida-based teams have voluntarily maintained 20-25% capacity limits. As of late October 2020, the NFL was planning a minimum attendance of 20% of capacity, in hopes that a larger capacity would be possible by game day. On January 22, 2021, the NFL announced that the game would have 22,000 fans in attendance, 7,500 of whom would be health care workers who had received a COVID-19 vaccine, primarily from the Tampa and central Florida region. Thus this game will have far lower attendance than the 61,946 who attended Super Bowl I.
The traditional events held during Super Bowl week will be significantly reduced, and the Chiefs will fly into Tampa on the day before the game, as is the case during the regular season, instead of holding practices during the entire week in the Super Bowl host city.