The History of the Super Bowl

Super Bowl History

The abridged version for the history of the Super Bowl begins in 1960. Although the NFL started in 1920, the creation of the American Football League (AFL) by a handful of disgruntled would-be NFL owners in 1960 incited a nationwide push for a merger between the two leagues. In 1966, the two leagues agreed to a merger that would go into effect no later than 1970. The first Super Bowl, then referred to by the unwieldy name, “NFL-AFL Championship Game”, took place on January 15, 1967, with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers cruising to a 35-10 victory over the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. Leading up to that first game, it was Chiefs’ owners Lamar Hunt (whose son now works on the Chiefs’ advisory board) proposed referring to the game as the “Super Bowl”. Needless to say, the name stuck.

Early in the game’s history, the AFL, which became the American Football Conference AFC after the merger, was decidedly outclassed by the established NFL teams. After Joe Namath’s New York Jets won the third Super Bowl, there was a short period of parity for the two conferences in the 1970s, when the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers established themselves as the best franchises of the decade, but the NFC dominated the 1980s and 1990s. The series now stands at 27-26 in favor of the NFC, largely thanks to Bill Belichick’s dynasty in New England. Over the years, the Super Bowl slowly morphed from just a generic championship game into the hyper-commercialized cultural phenomenon it is today. For the 2021 Super Bowl, it will again be one of the most-watched and most bet upon events of the year. Upper deck Super Bowl tickets now routinely sell for thousands of dollars and the game is annually the most-watched television broadcast in the world.

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Super Bowl Winning Coaches

Bill BelichickThe Super Bowl has a proud history of showcasing coaching excellence. It birthed the legend of Vince Lombardi, for whom the game’s trophy is now named, when his Packers won the first two Super Bowl games ever played. It popularized the legend of Chuck Noll’s ‘Steel Curtain’ Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, setting a new standard for defensive excellence. Bill Walsh’s revolutionary ‘west coast’ passing attack led him to three Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and paved the way for the modern NFL offense. Joe Gibbs became the only coach ever to win Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks. In 2007, Tony Dungy became the first black coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, followed shortly after by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in 2009. Bill Belichick earned his record fifth Super Bowl title in 2017 in epic comeback fashion, and added a sixth in 2019.

Super Bowl Winning Quarterbacks

Tom BradyThere is a widespread belief in the NFL that elite quarterback play is a prerequisite for a Super Bowl title. That isn’t necessarily true, but the history of the game certainly supports that your odds of winning are drastically reduced without great quarterback play. The first eight quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl—Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Johnny Unitas Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw and Ken Stabler—are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If you look back at any NFL team with a realistic claim to being a dynasty, you will find a Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm, from Starr to Montana to Brady. There is an inescapable connection between elite quarterback play and Super Bowl success.

Defenses That Won the Super Bowl

There is an oft-repeated maxim in football that “defense wins championships”. It sounds like your average coachspeak platitude, but statistically, it’s true. Only 8 of 53 Super Bowl champions have had a defense that ranked outside the top third of the NFL, and 5 of those teams were led by Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Chuck Noll’s “Steel Curtain” Steelers, led by ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, cemented their place in NFL lore by winning the 1977 Super Bowl. The 1985 Bears’ defense was perhaps the most dominant of all time, cementing their legend in a 36-point Super Bowl win over the Patriots. The 2000 Ravens’ defense statistically outshined even the 1985 Bears and carried a mediocre offense to a resounding win against the Giants to end the year. The 2002 Buccaneers similarly rode a star-studded defense to the Lombardi Trophy, with two current Hall of Famers and three more who are finalists for the 2020 class. And in the 2014 Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defense staked their own claim to greatness in a rout of the Broncos. Perhaps even more than quarterback play, a great defense is essential to postseason success in the NFL.

HISTORY

Past Super Bowl Scores And Results

Date Super Bowl Result MVP
Feb. 7, 2021 LV Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 9 Tom Brady
Feb. 2, 2020 LIV Kansas City 31, San Francisco 20 Patrick Mahomes
Feb. 3, 2019 LIII New England 13, Los Angeles Rams 3 Julian Edelman
Feb. 4, 2018 LII Philadelphia 41, New England 33 Nick Foles
Feb. 5, 2017 LI New England 34, Atlanta 28 (OT) Tom Brady
Feb. 7, 2016 50 Denver 24, Carolina 10 Von Miller
Feb. 1, 2015 XLIX New England 28, Seattle 24 Tom Brady
Feb. 2, 2014 XLVIII Seattle 43, Denver 8 Malcolm Smith
Feb. 3, 2013 XLVII Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31 Joe Flacco
Feb. 5, 2012 XLVI Giants 21, New England 17 Eli Manning
Feb. 6, 2011 XLV Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25 Aaron Rodgers
Feb. 7, 2010 XLIV New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17 Drew Brees
Feb. 1, 2009 XLIII Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23 Santonio Holmes
Feb. 3, 2008 XLII Giants 17, New England 14 Eli Manning
Feb. 4, 2007 XLI Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17 Peyton Manning
Feb. 5, 2006 XL Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10 Hines Ward
Feb. 6, 2005 XXXIX New England 24, Philadelphia 21 Deion Branch
Feb. 1, 2004 XXXVIII New England 32, Carolina 29 Tom Brady
Jan. 26, 2003 XXXVII Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21 Dexter Jackson
Feb. 3, 2002 XXXVI New England 20, St. Louis 17 Tom Brady
Jan. 28, 2001 XXXV Baltimore 34, Giants 7 Ray Lewis
Jan. 30, 2000 XXXIV St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16 Kurt Warner
Jan. 31, 1999 XXXIII Denver 34, Atlanta 19 John Elway
Jan. 25, 1998 XXXII Denver 31, Green Bay 24 Terrell Davis
Jan. 26, 1997 XXXI Green Bay 35, New England 21 Desmond Howard
Jan. 28, 1996 XXX Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17 Larry Brown
Jan. 29, 1995 XXIX San Francisco 49, San Diego 26 Steve Young
Jan. 30, 1994 XXVIII Dallas 30, Buffalo 13 Emmitt Smith
Jan. 31, 1993 XXVII Dallas 52, Buffalo 17 Troy Aikman
Jan. 26, 1992 XXVI Washington 37, Buffalo 24 Mark Rypien
Jan. 27, 1991 XXV New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19 Ottis Anderson
Jan. 28, 1990 XXIV San Francisco 55, Denver 10 Joe Montana
Jan. 22, 1989 XXIII San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16 Jerry Rice
Jan. 31, 1988 XXII Washington 42, Denver 10 Doug Williams
Jan. 25, 1987 XXI New York Giants 39, Denver 20 Phil Simms
Jan. 26, 1986 XX Chicago 46, New England 10 Richard Dent
Jan. 20, 1985 XIX San Francisco 38, Miami 16 Joe Montana
Jan. 22, 1984 XVIII Los Angeles 38, Washington 9 Marcus Allen
Jan. 30, 1983 XVII Washington 27, Miami 17 John Riggins
Jan. 24, 1982 XVI San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21 Joe Montana
Jan. 25, 1981 XV Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10 Jim Plunkett
Jan. 20, 1980 XIV Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles 19 Terry Bradshaw
Jan. 21, 1979 XIII Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31 Terry Bradshaw
Jan. 15, 1978 XII Dallas 27, Denver 10 H. Martin, R. White
Jan. 9, 1977 XI Oakland 32, Minnesota 14 Fred Biletnikoff
Jan. 18, 1976 X Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 Lynn Swann
Jan. 12, 1975 IX Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6 Franco Harris
Jan. 13, 1974 VIII Miami 24, Minnesota 7 Larry Csonka
Jan. 14, 1973 VII Miami 14, Washington 7 Jake Scott
Jan. 16, 1972 VI Dallas 24, Miami 3 Roger Staubach
Jan. 17, 1971 V Baltimore 16, Dallas 13 Chuck Howley
Jan. 11, 1970 IV Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7 Len Dawson
Jan. 12, 1969 III Jets 16, Baltimore 7 Joe Namath
Jan. 14, 1968 II Green Bay 33, Oakland 14 Bart Starr
Jan. 15, 1967 I Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10 Bart Starr