It is always fitting when the Chiefs or Green Bay Packers play for a Lombardi Trophy. Those two teams faced off in Super Bowl 1, then called the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game, in January 1967.
So how did a game with such a long name wind up being called the Super Bowl? The Kansas City Chiefs can explain.
Super Bowl 55 takes place this Sunday
Super Bowl 55 is the fifth, and possibly final, time that Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady will play one another.
Mahomes and the Chiefs are headed to Tampa, Fla., to play Brady and the Buccaneers. The two teams faced off on November 29, when Mahomes threw three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 27-24 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
Kansas City defeated San Francisco, 31-20, in Super Bowl 54 last year. Brady won six Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots and is hoping to win a seventh on Sunday.
All of that is well-known and has been covered at great length in recent days and weeks. But what about the Big Game’s deeper history?
The Chiefs played in the first Big Game
Once upon a time, two professional football leagues existed concurrently: the NFL and the AFL.
The NFL had been around since the 1920s and fielded teams like the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants. Conversely, the AFL debuted in 1960 with franchises that later became, among others, the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Tennessee Titans.
In January 1967, the NFL’s Packers and AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs faced off in the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted the Packers’ 35-10 victory over the Chiefs. Packers quarterback Bart Starr threw two touchdowns, and Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points in the second half.
Starr won MVP honors for his performance. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson went 16 of 27 for 211 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
The Chiefs are responsible for the Super Bowl’s name
When the Kansas City Chiefs walked off the field on Jan. 15, 1967, they had just played in the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
That game is now known as Super Bowl 1, but what brought about that change? Actually, the Chiefs are directly responsible for the alteration.
Hunt shared his own idea in the memo.
“I have kiddingly called it the Super Bowl, which obviously can be improved upon.”
In 2011, The Atlantic republished quotes that Hunt made to The New York Times in 1986. Hunt took ownership of the Super Bowl’s name but said its origin didn’t come from a memo to Rozelle.
Instead, Hunt’s phrasing came when other owners got the three championship games — the AFL and NFL’s own title games, plus the third one that later became the Super Bowl — confused in conversation.
“One day, the words flowed something like this: ‘No, not those games – the one I mean is the final game – you know the Super Bowl,’” Hunt recalled.
Hunt said later that he drew his inspiration from the Super Ball, a toy that his children played with.