For American football fans, the 1st of January means more than the start of the new year. It is also the start of the countdown for the National Football League's annual championship game. The Super Bowl is the showdown between the American Football Conference and National Football Conference in which each team fights for its place in NFL history. The history of the NFL Super Bowl is filled with bitter rivalries and plenty of banter between the teams vying for the bragging rights, the Vince Lombardi trophy, and a Super Bowl ring.
AFL vs. NFL
Founded in 1920, the National Football League has held a special place in the hearts of American football fans. This all changed in 1960 when the American Football League started its inaugural season. Comprised of owners who did not qualify for NFL expansion teams, the league slowly gained a following among football fans, and teams gradually drew talented players away from the better known and funded NFL teams.
Although the leagues had an unofficial agreement to avoid signing players already playing for teams, the NFL's New York Giants took a placekicker from the AFL's Buffalo Bills. After a series of underhanded moves by both leagues, they decided to merge in 1966 under the agreement of a common draft and an annual championship game.
AFL-NFL World Championship Game
In 1967, the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs appeared in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game in Los Angeles. The atmosphere teemed with animosity, noted by the fact that the Packers entered the game as the favourites only because they had been a franchised team longer than the Chiefs. In the end, the Packers proved these predictions true and won the game. They followed this up with another win in the 1968 championship game.
The origin of the term: Super Bowl
Although the official merger between the AFL and NFL referred to the game as the world championship game, the Kansas City Chiefs' owner called the matchup "Super Bowl" during the initial merger meetings. Reporters picked up the term Super Bowl and used it interchangeably with Super Game when writing about the first game. Super Bowl eventually stuck in the minds of the fans because of its similarity with the college bowl games that were already part of the culture.
Super Bowl selection process
In the early days of professional football, the team with the best record at the end of the season traditionally earned the championship title. As part of the merger between the AFL and NFL, the leagues converted to conferences with 13 teams in each. The teams are further divided into divisions, which help determine the playoff competition for the Super Bowl. At the end of the season, the team with the best record within each division earns the title of division champion.
The conference then ranks the remaining teams according to their overall records, and the top two teams from this tiered list play for a wild card spot in the first round of playoffs. In the second round of playoffs, the first round winner plays the division champion. The winners of the AFC and NFC conference games advance to the Super Bowl.
Notable moments in Super Bowl history
Before Super Bowl III in 1969, Joe Namath famously guaranteed a win by the New York Jets. Despite all odds, the Jets did beat the Baltimore Colts, securing the first national title for an AFC team. In 1973, the Miami Dolphins won the Super Bowl in a 14-7 win over Washington. They ended the season with a perfect 17-0 record, becoming the first team to do so in NFL history.
The Pittsburgh Steelers became the first team to win three Super Bowls in their 1979 win over Dallas. They became the first team to win four Super Bowls the following year in Super Bowl XIV. The 49ers shattered this record in 1995 after winning their fifth title in Super Bowl XXIX.
How to buy Super Bowl gear on eBay
Whether you want to cheer for your favourite teams, or just want an excuse to throw a party, preparing for the Super Bowl is easy with the vast inventory on eBay. There, fans find everything from jerseys and fan gear to football-themed decorations, party favours, and serve ware for the perfect party. To find these items, enter key terms in the search bar and click to see what is available. Look for deals like bundles and lots that let you get several items as part of a single transaction so you have more time to spend putting together your party.