Super Bowl 2021: Why does the NFL use Roman numerals for naming?

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Football has evolved over the years, but one thing has endured: Roman numerals at the Super Bowl. Whether you think it’s antiquated, classy or a little too extra, Roman numerals have become synonymous with the game, and Super Bowl LV (aka Super Bowl 55) is no exception.

So why does the NFL number the Super Bowl instead of using years?

In June of 1966, the NFL and AFL agreed to merge for the 1970 season, but until then, both leagues would meet in a championship game after their respective seasons had ended. Since their seasons took place in the fall and this new game would be played in the new year, organizers decided to assign each edition a number instead of a year to avoid confusion.

But why Roman numerals?

AFL and Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt proposed using Roman numerals for each Super Bowl to add pomp and gravitas to the game. Roman numerals were, unsurprisingly, used in ancient Rome as a number system. I stands for 1, V for 5, X for 10, L for 50 and C for 100. That’s right: In 2066, get ready for Super Bowl C.

Super Bowl V was the first to use Roman numerals. They were retroactively added to the Super Bowl II to IV logos and have been used each year since⁠ until 2016. For Super Bowl L, or 50, the NFL tried out 73 different logos before breaking down and using a plain old “50.”

The Roman numerals for Super Bowl 55 are LV since L is the Roman numeral for 50 and V is 5. Next year for Super Bowl 56in 2022, the Roman numerals will be LVI.

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Why is the Super Bowl called the Super Bowl?

While negotiating the new championship game, Hunt began referring to it as “The Super Bowl.” Hunt said the name was inspired by a toy called the Super Ball that his kids had been playing with.

See below for additional information on how to watch the big game and be sure to follow along with ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports for Super Bowl news, updates, scores and more!  

How to Watch Super Bowl LV