The Office Guide to Sounding Smart about the Super Bowl

This Sunday is the Super Bowl which is often a time when people who literally don’t watch a minute of sports the other 364 days of the year, find themselves at a Super Bowl party. Or, they’re forced to act interested in it at work because everyone else is talking about it. Maybe you’re that person?

Normally, we cover business-related topics on this blog, but in this case (and because it’s Friday) we will pretend that you are the non-sports person at that party, and the get-together is being thrown by your boss. So, technically, this could be considered work-related. Here are some Super Bowl facts and trivia you can throw out to other party guests or co-workers to schmooze your way through Sunday. And, if your boss catches you reading this, consider it “professional development.”

  • The first championship game between the upstart American Football League (AFL) and the older and more established National Football League (NFL) took place in 1967. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers beat the AFL champion, Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10. However, the game wouldn’t get its iconic name until two years later.


  • The name, “Super Bowl,” wasn’t used until 1969 during the third championship game between the AFL and NFL. The AFL’s New York Jets and their rock star quarterback, Joe Namath, beat the NFL’s Baltimore Colts 16-7, and set the wheels in motion for the eventual merger between the two leagues a year later. It was also during this game that the leagues decided to use Roman Numerals to designate each game, a practice still used today.

    Source: Pinterest

  • Lamar Hunt, the founder of the AFL and owner of the Kansas City Chiefs coined the name, “Super Bowl,” while watching his young son play with his bouncy rubber “Super Ball” toy.
  • If the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday in Houston, Texas, it will be the fifth championship for the franchise. That will tie them with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys for second-most Super Bowl wins all time. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six to top the list. On the flip side, the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills have both lost four Super Bowls and have zero wins between them. Ouch!


  • If you really want to look smart (and possibly win something with a friendly “non-monetary wager,” because betting on the Super Bowl in about 98 percent of the country is … ahem … illegal … wink, wink) ask someone if they can name the four teams that have never been to the Super Bowl. When they can’t come up with the answer, you can confidently tell them that the four are: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and the poor Houston Texans, who must sit and watch this year’s Super Bowl get played in their home stadium. Double-ouch!
  • Oh, and just in case you were wondering about the illegal betting thing, Forbes says that about $4.5 billion (with a capital “B”) will be wagered illegally on the Super Bowl this year. So go ahead and bet your Uncle Morty, or Barry from Accounting, that they can’t name the four teams that have never been to the Super Bowl. We doubt the feds will come after that $10 you get.
  • A 30-second commercial during the first championship game cost $42,000 which translates into a cool $301,000 today. According to the New York Times, a 30-second commercial during this year’s game starts at $5 million and could go higher, depending on its placement during the game.
  • The most money ever spent on a single ad was the $12.4 million Chrysler spent on their 2011 “Imported from Detroit” two-minute commercial. Featuring local Detroit Lions star, Ndamukong Suh, and music from hometown superstar, Eminem, Chrysler was criticized for spending that much on a single ad. However, Chrysler’s sales shot up 50 percent over the next few years, and the city of Detroit got a welcome boost in morale and an uptick in its image across the country.
  • With a few exceptions, Super Bowl commercials went generally unnoticed until the groundbreaking spot during the 1984 Super Bowl for Apple’s Macintosh computer. Many Madison Avenue executives believe this spot revolutionized the ad industry, and it is still studied in collegiate marketing classes even today. Despite being one of the most recognized and memorable TV ads ever created, the spot only ran the one time during the Super Bowl.

    Source: YouTube

  • If you’re actually watching the game instead of the commercials, you’re not alone. The most-watched Super Bowl ever was two years ago when 114.4 million viewers turned on their televisions to see the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks. Then, last year for Super Bowl 50, the NFL allowed the game to be streamed live over the Internet for the first time. Experts estimate that more than 167 million people tuned in for at least part or all of the game. On top of the American audience, the Super Bowl is televised to more than 30 other countries with a few million more viewers there as well.
  • Super Bowl Sunday is the second-highest food consumption day of the year in America behind Thanksgiving. It is estimated that Americans drink about 325.5 million gallons of beer and devour 1.25 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl. But that’s not all they put away. According to the Daily Meal, these are the ten most popular Super Bowl party foods ranked from tenth-place to first:

10. Potato Skins

9. Jalapeno Poppers

8. Pigs in a Blanket

7. Deviled Eggs

6. Pulled Pork sandwiches

5. Guacamole

4. Nachos

3. Chicken Wings

2. Chili

And the #1 favorite Super Bowl food is … pizza!

  • The Super Bowl halftime show has become an event unto itself with dazzling production numbers that rival anything Hollywood or Las Vegas can produce. However, the first two decades worth of games featured local college bands and even one community college drill team. It wasn’t until around Super Bowl XXII in 1988 that halftime got a little more extravagant with 88 grand pianos and 50’s rock-n-roll legend, Chubby Checker, entertaining the crowd. However, when Michael Jackson appeared at Super Bowl XXVI, it set the precedent for spectacular halftime shows. 
  • The most controversial halftime show occurred at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, when a “wardrobe malfunction” between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson made parent and church groups across the country go crazy. When Timberlake accidentally ripped open her top, Ms. Jackson’s breast was exposed on live TV for less than one second. Unfortunately, DVRs were the rage and the millions of people recording the game could scan and freeze the moment for eternity. Conspiracy theorists still debate today how “accidental” the whole thing was.
  • On the flip side of shame, there was the unbridled goofiness of “Left Shark” whose seemingly mindless unsynched, yet joyful dancing with Katy Perry in Super Bowl XLIX launched a tidal wave of Internet memes and video views. Ironically, Perry’s halftime show had more viewers than the game itself.
  • Finally, don’t worry about the players in Super Bowl LI being unable to pay their bills any time soon. Besides the contracts they’ve already been paid for, each player picked up an extra $44,000 in bonuses for winning the Conference Championship Game, plus they could pick up an additional $97,000 each for winning the Super Bowl. The losing squad will pick up $49,000 apiece, which isn’t exactly chump change.
  • The top players, especially the quarterbacks, usually have incentive clauses in their contracts for post-season play.  Last year, a barely breathing Peyton Manning rode the coattails of one of the best defenses of the Super Bowl era to get the Denver Broncos a championship. Manning earned a $2 million bonus for getting to the Super Bowl, and another $2 million for winning the game. Or, in his case, not losing the game. That was about $4.2 million for two weeks of work. Not bad, if you can get it!

So there is your guide to a few bits of Super Bowl knowledge you can use to impress someone at your boss’ party. Just remember to not bet your boss on your new-found knowledge because, like the New England Patriots, bosses hate to lose.

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