Was the Super Bowl REALLY Named After the Super Ball?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The Super Bowl is named after the Super Ball.

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?

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted to call it “The Big One.”

However, it was a term coined by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt that ended up sticking (here’s Hunt alongside legendary Chiefs coach Hank Stram – Hunt is on the left)…



Hunt saw one of his children playing with a Super Ball (a bouncy ball toy from Wham-O, makers of Frisbee and the Hula Hoop) and it occurred to him that that would be a nice play on the college football “bowl game,” which in turn got its name from the Rose Bowl (which, in turn, got its name from being a stadium that looks like a bowl).

So the term “Super Bowl” was coined and it caught on, and starting with the third championship game, it was the name officially given to the game, and has stuck ever since!

Hunt’s child’s Super Ball is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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