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I’ve found no reference to any sort of number used for that one. In fact, it’s difficult to find a reference to that name, even without a number. I think it was part of a massive cover-up, after someone created the name “Super Bowl” as a less egotistical title than “world championship” for the best two teams from only one country of the world. This happened before the third matchup of the AFL and NFL champions, in January 1969. That was the first time the new name was used, yet it was known as Super Bowl 3. I still wonder if a young George Lucas wasn’t involved in that numbering scheme. (I’m waiting for the special edition DVD, in which the Colts shot first.) Regardless, someone made the decision to apply the “Super Bowl” name retroactively to the first two Championship Games. In January 1970, Super Bowl 4 saw the AFL and NFL champions meet for the last time, as the AFL and NFL soon merged into a league called – wait for it – the NFL. It literally took an act of Congress to legalize the merger and approve of the gargantuan monopoly that we still know and loathe today as the NFL, but that’s what happened. And in order to keep milking the championship cash cow, the NFL set up two arbitrary conferences – the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). These were further divided into divisions by a secretary pulling team names out of a vase. No, really. Regardless, in January 1971, the NFL’s respective conference champions met for the first time in, you guessed it, Super Bowl V. It should be noted that, according to ESPN, the league has used Roman numerals to count its Super Bowls ever since, for a string of 45 Super Bowls. This implies they used Arabic numerals for the previous two (as well as the first two, which weren’t really Super Bowls, anyway, but which would have been known as Super Bowl 1 and Super Bowl 2). But in any article I’ve found, the first four are referred to by Roman numerals. Why is this important? Let’s be honest – nothing I write about is important. Still, it’s key to what’s happening in February 2016. It’s supposedly the 50th Super Bowl (even though the first and second didn’t use that name and the third and fourth were the only two played between two different leagues, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s only the 46th of its kind), and it seems someone doesn’t like the idea of representing that number using its Roman numeral equivalent: L. Apparently, the NFL wants to get the ‘L’ out. Why, you ask? According to ESPN, it’s “because the ‘L’ isn’t as pleasing to the eye.” No, really. Ten years ago, someone in the NFL realized an ‘L’ was coming soon, when they designed the Roman numeral logo for the 40th Super Bowl (or 36th, by my standards). That’s when they encountered that ‘L’ for the first time, as XL is the Roman numeral equivalent of 40. Listen to this brilliant quote from Jaime Weston, NFL vice president of brand and creative: “Up until that point, we had only worked with X’s, V’s and I’s. And, at that moment, that’s when we started to wonder: What will happen when we get to 50?” Well, Jaime, I’m no Roman mathematician, but my bet would be at that point, you’d be looking at a single ‘L.’ True to bureaucratic form, though, the league assigned a team to study this conundrum, once again | 35

Midtown Magazine  

January/February 2016

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