Whether it's the game, the high-profile advertising, or its halftime show, the Super Bowl has something for nearly everyone - no wonder it attracts more than 100 million viewers. (The only thing missing is a red carpet ceremony!) To salute this all-encompassing event, what follows are brief summaries of each of the fifty-three Super Bowls, a quirky melange of milestones and fun facts - perfect for entertaining friends and family when they gather together for this year's game.
The first "AFL-NFL World Championship" game aired on two TV networks. It had the smallest stadium attendance of any Super Bowl - 61,946.
The Packers won for the second year in a row. "Cheeseheads" would then have to wait until 1997 until their next Super Bowl appearance. Two weeks after this win the Packers iconic coach, Vince Lombardi, announced his retirement.
This Super Bowl set a record for the fewest combined touchdowns, two. The New York Jets' stunning upset of the Colts (who were 18 point favorites) was replicated later that year with the Mets' improbable World Series victory over the Orioles.
The game was played with wet field conditions and under a threat of tornadoes. Carol Channing provided halftime entertainment.
A field goal with five seconds left in the game broke a tie, giving Baltimore a victory over Dallas. The cost of a :30 spot was 8% lower than the previous year (only four other years would have a price decrease). Two years after singing the National Anthem, orange juice queen, Anita Bryant, performed this year's halftime show (this was six years before she became notorious for leading the charge against gay rights legislation in Dade Co.). The game had the earliest East Coast kick-off time of any Super Bowl - 2 PM.
At kick-off the temperature at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans was 38°, making it the coldest of all Super Bowls (of those played outdoors). The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins, who were limited to three points - the fewest points by a Super Bowl participant.
A year after the coldest playing conditions for a Super Bowl, this year's had the warmest as the temperature was 84° in Los Angeles at kick-off time. Then the Miami Dolphins completed an undefeated season with a Super Bowl victory. Their 14 points were the fewest scored by any winning team. Their opponents, the Redskins, were held scoreless until 2:07 was left in the 4th Quarter.
This was the first Super Bowl to charge $100,000 for a :30 commercial ($480,000 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars).
At halftime the score was Steelers 2 Vikings 0, the fewest combined points in the first half of any Super Bowl.
It was a very chilly day in Miami, with a kick-off temperature of only 57°. The telecast had the highest share of viewing of any Super Bowl - 78%. A Bicentennial themed halftime show featured the squeaky clean singers and dancers known as "Up With People".
Super Bowl XI took place on Jan. 9, the earliest date ever. It was also the first game played before a crowd of 100,000+. Rather than sing the National Anthem at the start of the game, Vikki Carr sang America the Beautiful. This was the Vikings fourth, and last, Super Bowl appearance (they lost all four games).
This was the first Super Bowl played in a domed stadium, New Orleans' Superdome (it would be held there six more times). It was also the first with a kick-off time after 6 PM on the East Coast (6:17).
The 31 points scored by the Cowboys was the most by a losing team (the Steelers won with 34 points). This record was later tied by the 49ers in 2013 (the Ravens won with 35).
Nearly 104,000 attended the game at the LA Coliseum, the largest Super Bowl crowd ever. One of the game's participants was the Los Angeles Rams, the first Super Bowl participant to play in its own TV market. For the second time the Steelers won back-to-back Super Bowls (the first time was in 1975 and 1976) - the only team to do so.
To honor the American hostages in Iran who were released five days earlier, attendees were given yellow bows to hold in the air. The price of a :30 spot was 45% higher than the previous year - the biggest year-to-year increase of any year.
This was the highest rated of any Super Bowl, with a 49.1 household rating. The first Super Bowl to be played in a northern city (Detroit), it was played in a domed stadium, thereby protecting spectators and players from outdoor temperatures that hovered around 20 degrees.
The 1982 NFL season had been shortened by seven games due to a players strike in Sept/October. Still, interest was quite high for the Super Bowl as the game posted its second highest rating. After the game NBC premiered The A Team.
Apple's famed "1984" commercial aired during the game. Before the game Barry Manilow sang the National Anthem.
The game was played at Stanford Stadium in foggy conditions. Featuring the 49ers and Dolphins, it was played just 25 miles from the 49ers stadium - the second Super Bowl participant to have close to a home field advantage (the first was the LA Rams in 1980). The cost of a :30 commercial was 40% higher than that of 1984's game.
This was the first Super Bowl appearance by "Da Bears". It was the last game to get a 70 share of viewing until 2012.
Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light mascot Spuds MacKenzie during the game. And after the game Disney unveiled its "I'm Going to Disneyland!" campaign.
One year after the Giants set the record for most points scored in the second half of a Super Bowl, the Redskins set the mark for most in the first half, with 35. All of these points were scored in the 2nd quarter - the most for any quarter. The game's 41.9 household rating was the lowest in 14 years. Herb Alpert performed the last instrumental version of the National Anthem.
Coke aired a commercial in 3-D during halftime (glasses were distributed at supermarkets). Also, Anheuser-Busch aired a series of ads called "The Bud Bowl" between teams of animated bottles of Bud Light and Budweiser. Hundreds of Elvis impersonators performed during halftime, but no Elvis songs were performed. (On a personal note, I won $50 in the office pool for the First Quarter score.)
This was the most one-sided Super Bowl as the 49ers crushed the Broncos 55-10. It was also quarterback Joe Montana's 4th Super Bowl win, tying him with the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw. This was the third time the Broncos appeared in the past four years - all losses. The game's 39.0 household rating was the lowest since 1969.
This game is remembered for Whitney Houston's powerful rendition of the National Anthem. The game was a heart breaker for Buffalo as their kicker missed a game-winning field goal in the game's final second. With a final score of 20-19, this is the only Super Bowl decided by one point.
Fox counter programmed the Super Bowl's halftime show with its comedy show In Living Color, and it created a noticeable viewing dip as the game's rating fell 24% from the 2nd quarter (a loss of 22 million viewers). This was also the first Super Bowl to use a signer during the singing of the National Anthem.
The Cowboys 21 points in the 4th Quarter was the most ever scored in that quarter. Final score was 52-17. To prevent counter programming from stealing its halftime audience, Michael Jackson performed - the beginning of high profile acts appearing at halftime.
Despite the Bills' kicker Steve Christie kicking the longest field goal in Super Bowl history (54 yards), Buffalo lost the Super Bowl for the fourth year in a row.
This was the first Super Bowl to charge $1 million for a :30 ad unit. As for the game, the 49ers were 18-1/2 point favorites, the biggest spread ever, and won by 23, 49-26. 49ers quarterback Steve Young set a Super Bowl mark by throwing six touchdown passes. The two teams combined for 75 points, most ever. This is the only Super Bowl played between two West Coast teams (the San Diego Chargers was the other team). This was the 49ers' fifth Super Bowl win, and it would their last time at the Big Game until 2013. During the game the Budweiser frogs, Bud, Wies and Er, were first introduced.
Diana Ross headlined the halftime show and ended her performance with a dramatic exit by helicopter. An episode of Friends aired after the game and delivered an audience of 52 million, making it the largest Super Bowl lead-out ever.
The 24 points scored in the 1st quarter (New England 14 Green Bay 10) was the most ever. This was the Packers first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl II.
The pre-game show was hosted by Sat. Night Live's Phil Hartman, who was murdered by his wife three months later.
Cher, whose latest single Believe was rising on the charts, sang the National Anthem.
The average price of a :30 spot topped $2 million. Host city, Atlanta, was plagued by two ice storms in the week leading up to the game. This Super Bowl is often referred to as the "Dot-com Bowl" because nineteen dot-com companies aired commercials (nearly half of them were out of business within a few years, including Pets.com).
Following the game the Season 2 premiere of Survivor aired, and its audience of 47 million was the second largest of any post-game programming.
The game was played at New Orleans' Superdome for the sixth time, most of any venue (a seventh time would be in 2013). This Super Bowl had the distinction of having the latest kick-off time (on the East Coast) - 6:40 PM. As for the game, the Patriots kicked a field goal with seven seconds remaining to win. President Bush became the first president involved in any part of the game as he participated in the opening coin toss. As U2 sang Where the Streets Have No Name during halftime, the names of all those who died on 9-11 were displayed on a white sheet behind the stage. For the second year in a row the price of a :30 ad declined.
In their first Super Bowl appearance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won. With a temperature of 82° at kick-off time, this was the second warmest Super Bowl. This was also the fourth Super Bowl to be played on Jan. 26 - the most of any date.
This game is known for the "Nipplegate" halftime incident between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. As for the game, the 37 combined points scored in the 4th quarter was the most scored in any quarter of a Super Bowl. And two years after New England won with seven seconds left, this year they won the game with eight seconds remaining.
Animal Planet aired its first Puppy Bowl opposite the game. New England won for the second year in a row, the eighth time a team had back-to-back championships.
The Rolling Stones provided the halftime entertainment. This was the first Super Bowl to use a five-second delay during the show.
This is the only Super Bowl in which the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. Prince's halftime show took place in a steady rain. An ad for Snickers created controversy because it showed two kissing after eating a Snickers bar from opposite ends.
In winning the Super Bowl, the Giants handed the Patriots their only loss of the season. The E-Trade baby made his first appearance during the telecast.
The Steelers came from behind in the final minute to beat the Arizona Cardinals for their sixth Super Bowl victory, the most of any team. Despite the Great Recession, the price of a :30 saw a price increase.
The Saints won in their first Super Bowl appearance. The night's most popular commercial was for Snickers in which Betty White gets tackled during a football game.
Christina Aguilera sang the Star-Spangled Banner and got some of the lyrics wrong. This was the first time Dallas hosted the Super Bowl.
Madonna provided the halftime entertainment and perhaps helped make this the Super Bowl with the largest TV audience -111.4 million (not to be confused with highest rating, which was in 1982).
The game's second half was delayed 34 minutes due to a partial power failure. Nine years after she was tapped to sing the National Anthem, Beyonce provided the halftime entertainment in a fierce get up that was a cross between Victoria's Secret and dominatrix. The Ravens' Super Bowl victory was the first for the city of Baltimore since 1971 - when its NFL team was the Colts.
This was the first Super Bowl played in an uncovered northern stadium, in northern New Jersey. In the midst of a harsh/snowy winter the weather turned out not to be an issue as the temperature at game time was 49°. (Eight inches of snow fell the following day.) Renee Fleming was the first opera singer to sing the National Anthem. As for the game, the Broncos gave up a safety on the opening play and it was downhill from there, with the Seattle Seahawks easily winning 44-8.
The Seahawks appeared in the game for the second year in a row and it appeared as if they were on their way to another victory, but then New England ended their scoring drive by intercepting a pass at the one-yard line with 24 seconds left to play. Katy Perry was the primary halftime entertainment which was marked by dancing sharks. She ended by swinging across the field on a wire. This was the first game to offer :15 commercials. The game had the largest audience of any Super Bowl (but not the highest rating, which was posted in 1982), with peaks during halftime and in the game's closing minutes (121 million viewers).
This was the Golden Anniversary of the Super Bowl (i.e., the 50th) and it was also the final game of Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning's 17-year career, and he made it memorable with a victory - Denver's third Super Bowl championship. This was the first Super Bowl to charge $5 million for a :30 commercial. Carolina Panther QB, Cam Newton, came across as a sore loser when he walked out of the post-game news conference.
This was the first Super Bowl that went into overtime. Down 28-3 near the end of the Third Quarter, the Patriots made the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, beating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28. This was the Patriots' fifth Super Bowl victory (one behind the Steelers). Country singer Luke Bryan was the first male singer to perform the National Anthem in ten years (when Billy Joel sang it). Halftime entertainment was provided by Lady Gaga. With the game coming just two weeks after Donald Trump's inauguration, there was speculation about whether she would make some sort of anti-Trump statement since she was known for making political statements. And while there was nothing overt, it was felt that her choice of two patriotic songs at the beginning of her set, God Bless America and This Land is Your Land, was intended to suggest the need for prayer for the nation, and a reminder of the ideals that were the basis of the nation's founding.
This year a comeback by the Patriots' (appearing in their tenth Super Bowl) was thwarted by a fumble in the closing minutes, enabling the Philadelphia Eagles to win their first Super Bowl. A very small consolation for New England was the fact that the 33 points it scored was the most to be scored by a losing team. Despite the game being an exciting one the average viewing audience was the smallest in nine years. Halftime entertainment was provided by Justin Timberlake, 14 years after his and Janet Jackson's controversial 'Nipplegate' performance during that Super Bowl's halftime.
For the first time in ten years the Super Bowl, which was the lowest scoring ever (Patriots 13 Rams 3), had an average-minute audience of less than 100 million. The halftime show featuring Maroon 5 and some rap stars from Atlanta (which hosted the game) paled in comparison to previous halftimes starring the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Madonna and Katy Perry. For me the most memorable part of the game was a commercial for Burger King that used footage from a 1960s documentary showing Andy Warhol unwrapping a BK hamburger and putting Heinz ketchup on it. And although Burger King paid for the :45 ad (estimated cost of $7.8 million), Heinz had equally prominent placement.
Six weeks before COVID shut down the nation, the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV after a memorable late-game comeback. Down 21-10 at the start of the 4th Quarer, Kansas City scored three unanswered touchdowns in the game's final seven minutes to defeat the 49er's 31-21. This comeback somewhat one-upped J-Lo's and Shakira's scintillating halftime show.
COVID restrictions were in place for Super Bowl LV, in which defending champions, the Chiefs, were beat by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9, behind quarterback Tom Brady, his first season playing for Tampa Bay after his storied carrer with the Patriots (this was Brady's tenth Super Bowl appearance, and his seventh Super Bowl ring). Space restrictions resulted in a crowd of fewer than 25,000 being allowed in (one-third of seats were given to healthcare workers). The Wkend was the halftime performer and his show had a rather dramatic, sinister feel to it.
The Bengals went to 0-3 in Super Bowls after the San Diego Rams scored the winning touchdown with less then two minutes left to the game (final score: 23-20). Those attending the game in Inglewood, CA were required to show proof of COVID vaccination and a negative PCR test within 48 hours of the game. The match-up featured the youngest pairing of head coaches in a Super Bowl (both were under 40). The halftime show was a tribute to legends of hip hop, with appearances by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blighe, and Kendrick Lamar. Finally, Super Bowl LIV was referred to as the "Crytocurrency Bowl" because of a perponderance of commercials from crytpo-currency companies, including FTX which shelled out $15 million for a two-minute spot starring Curb Your Enthusiam's Larry David.
Super Bowl LVII was the first to feature starting quarterbacks facing each other who were black - Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Jalen Hurts (Eagles). In an exciting game that had constant scoring, the Chiefs scored the winning touchdown with about two minutes left to beat the Eagles, 38-35. The 35 points scored by the Eagles were the most by a losing team. Singing superstar Rihanna (who was in the early states of pregnancy performed at halftime on a platform suspended over the playing field that rose and dropped. She sang a dozen of her hits, but didn't include early hits Pon de Replay, Don't Stop the Music, and Shut Up and Drive.