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Why Is It Called the Super Bowl? The History Behind the NFL Championship Game's Name

Somehow "AFL-NFL Championship Game" doesn't have the same ring.

There's nothing quite like the Super Bowl. Millions of fans all over the country and world huddle in front of their televisions to watch the NFL crown the season's champion. Traditions are born, bowls of chips and salsa are consumed, and grown men and women cry. It's a uniquely American spectacle.

But football's beloved event hasn't always been such a big deal. In fact, it hasn't always been called the Super Bowl. The National Football League was founded in 1920, and the American Football League formed forty years later. Competition between the two leagues prompted the owners to negotiate an agreement in 1966 that both factions would merge by 1970 and play a championship game.

When trying to decide what to call the game, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle came up with names like the "Big One" and "Pro Bowl" but those didn't stick, according to Time. Rozelle's suggestion of "AFL-NFL World Championship Game" became the official moniker. Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt suggested the term "Super Bowl" inspired by his son's "Super Ball" toy, but the name wasn't used until later.

On Jan. 15, 1967, the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, retroactively called Super Bowl I, took place between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The Packers won the inaugural game 35–10 under legendary coach Vince Lombardi.

The Super Bowl officially started using that name in the fourth championship contest in 1970, and the league added a roman numeral behind the name the following year with Super Bowl V.

Fast forward to 2019, and Super Bowl LIII is almost here. This year's game will be hosted at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.