The First Super Bowls Had A Different Name

The Super Bowl, one of America's most-watched sports events, started out with a very different name in the beginning. And that name reflected what was happening in football during this era of the game. In 1966, the National Football League, which was founded in 1920, reached a deal with their relatively new rival, the American Football League, to have their best teams play against each other at the end of the season, per The Atlantic. The two leagues also agreed to a merger around this time, but that deal didn't become final until 1970 (via Britannica). 

On January 15, 1967, The Kansas City Chiefs faced off against the Green Bay Packers in what was then called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, according to Time magazine. Pete Rozelle, the NFL Commissioner, had tossed around a few other names as well, including the World Series of Football and Pro Bowl, but it was decided to go with the very wordy AFL-NFL World Championship Game. This game made history as the first time an AFL team played against an NFL team. The game aired on two television networks, and the ticket prices ranged from $10 to $15 dollars (or about $86 to $130 in today's prices). At the time, many people objected to these high ticket prices.

AFL-NFL championship game gets a new name

For the next few years, the original name of this important sporting event stuck, at least officially. According to The Atlantic, the names "AFL-NFL Championship Game" and "World Championship" were used. The 1969 event became known as the Third World Championship Game. But as early as the first championship, the term "Super Bowl" was bandied about by the press, per The Atlantic. But for years, the origin of the term "Super Bowl" has been attributed to Lamar Hunt, American Football League founder and owner of the Kansas City Chiefs (via Time magazine). He reportedly came up with the name after watching his son play with his Super Ball toy.

Wherever the name came from, the newly merged football league didn't officially take up the name Super Bowl until 1970, per Sports Illustrated. The practice of using Roman numerals came into play the following year with Super Bowl V. All the previous championship games got roman numerals and were renamed retroactively.