Super Bowl XLIII will be played between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on February 1, 2009 in which the Steelers are a 6.5 point favorite.
The Super Bowl was created as part of the merger agreement between the National Football League (NFL) and its competitive rival, the American Football League (AFL). After its inception in 1920, the NFL fended off several rival leagues before the AFL began play in 1960. The intense competitive war for players and fans led to serious merger talks between the two leagues in 1966, culminating in a merger agreement announcement on June 8, 1966. One of the conditions of the AFC-NFC Merger was that the winners of each league's championship game would meet in a contest to determine the "world champion of football". According to NFL Films President Steve Sabol, then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted to call the game "The Big One". During the discussions to iron out the details, AFC founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt had jokingly referred to the proposed inter league championship as the "Super Bowl". Hunt thought of the name after seeing his children playing with a toy called a Super Ball; the small, round ball is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The name was consistent with postseason college football games which had long been known as "bowl games." The "bowl" term originated from the Rose Bowl Game, which was in turn named for the bowl-shaped stadium in which it is played. Hunt only meant his suggested name to be a stopgap until a better one could be found. Nevertheless, the name "Super Bowl" became permanent.
1966-1967: Packers' early dominance
The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. The Packers were led by quarterback Bart Starr, who was named MVP for both games. These two championships, along with the Packers' NFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965 have led many people to consider the Packers to be the "Team of the 1960s. Green Bay, Wisconsin is often referred to as "Title Town" by its own residents due to the five championships the Packers won in the 1960s and its twelve championships since the team began playing in 1919.
1968-1979 AFL/AFC dominance
Super Bowl III featured one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history as the New York Jets, behind the guarantee of Joe Namath, defeated the 18-point favorite Baltimore Colts 16–7. Namath, the MVP of the game, and Matt Snell, 121 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown, led the Jets to victory. The win helped solidify the AFL as a legitimate contender with the NFL.
1980-1996: Two decades of NFC dominance
NFC teams won sixteen of the twenty Super Bowls in the 1980s and 1990s, including thirteen in a row from 1984 to 1996.
The 49ers lead the NFC domination of the 1980s
The most successful franchise of the 1980s was the San Francisco 49ers, who won four Super Bowls in the decade (XVI, XIX, XXIII, and XXIV). The 49ers were led by coach Bill Walsh and quarterback Joe Montana. They were known for using the precision accurate, fast-paced west coast offense. The 1980s also included the 1985 Chicago Bears who finished the season 18–1 (a feat accomplished the prior year by the 49ers), and two championships for the Joe Gibbs-coached Washington Redskins. The Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders were the only AFC franchise to win a Super Bowl in the 1980s, winning Super Bowls XV and XVIII.
The Cowboys dominate the early 1990s
The Dallas Cowboys became the dominant team in the NFL in the early 1990s. After championships by division rivals New York and Washington to start the decade, the Cowboys won three of the next four Super Bowls. The Cowboys were led by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, the first two of whom won MVP awards. The early 1990s also featured the Buffalo Bills appearing in four consecutive Super Bowls, although they lost all of them. The 49ers became the first team to win five championships with their win in Super Bowl XXIX, with the Cowboys accomplishing that same feat a year later. As both teams began to fizzle late into the decade, another NFC powerhouse, the Green Bay Packers, led by multiple-MVP quarterback Brett Favre, emerged, winning Super Bowl XXXI following the 1996 season.
1997-2000: The AFC rises again
In Super Bowl XXXII, quarterback John Elway led the Denver Broncos to an upset victory over the defending champion Packers, snapping the NFC's 13-game winning streak, and beginning a streak in which the AFC would win eight of the next ten Super Bowls. The Broncos would go on to win Super Bowl XXXIII the next year, over the Atlanta Falcons, in Elway's final game before retiring. After an NFC win by the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, the AFC continued its winning ways, with wins by the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.
2001-2005: The Patriots' Dynasty
The Patriots became the dominant team of the early 2000s, winning the championship in three of the first five years of the decade. In Super Bowl XXXVI Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady led his team to a 20–17 upset victory over the Rams. The Patriots also went on to win Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX. After championships by AFC rivals Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in Super Bowls XL and XLI, respectively, the Patriots responded in 2007 an undefeated regular season - only the second in modern NFL history and the first with a sixteen game schedule - which included a road win over the defending champion Colts. Despite the regular season performance, the Patriots were upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Television coverage and ratings
For many years, the Super Bowl has had a very large television audience in the U.S., and it is often the most watched television program of the year. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings which usually come in around a 40 rating and 60 share (i.e., on average, 40 percent of all U.S. households, and 60 percent of all homes tuned into television during the game). This means that on average, 80 to 90 million Americans are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment. It is also estimated that 130-140 million tune into some part of the game.
Super Bowl on TV
Early Super Bowls/NFL Championships featured a halftime show consisting of marching bands from local colleges or high schools. But as the popularity of the game increased, so did the potential of exposure. This has led to the trend of popular singers and musicians performing during its pre-game ceremonies, the halftime show, or even just singing the national anthem of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner". For example, Super Bowl XLI in 2007 featured Cirque du Soleil, Romero Britto, and Louie Vega during the pre-game ceremonies; Billy Joel performed the Star Spangled Banner; and Prince played during the halftime show. Unlike regular season or playoff games, thirty minutes are allocated for the Super Bowl halftime.
The location of the Super Bowl is chosen by the NFL well in advance, usually three to five years before the game. Cities place bids to host a Super Bowl. Candidate cities are evaluated in terms of stadium renovation and ability to host a Super Bowl. Then the NFL owners meet to make a selection on the site. The sites for the next four Super Bowls have been determined, up to Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. On October 16, 2007, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that a future Super Bowl might be played in London, probably at Wembley Stadium. The game has never been played in a region which lacks an NFL franchise. (Seven Super Bowls have been played in Los Angeles, but none since the Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Rams both relocated elsewhere in 1995.)
Home team designation
The designated "home team" alternates between the NFC team in odd-numbered games (the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in February 2007), and the AFC team in even-numbered games (the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in February 2008). This alternation was initiated with the first Super Bowl, when the Green Bay Packers of the NFL were the designated home team.