Super Bowl LI: Why the roman numerals?


The big game, Super Bowl 51, takes place in Houston, TX on Sunday.

And even though we say “fifty-one” it’s really Super Bowl “LI”.

So why is the game back to using roman numerals?

Wherever you look, you see Super Bowl LI. After a one-year break, the game often referred to as the ‘Biggest Spectacle in Sports’ has gone back to using its traditional method of counting…roman numerals.

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Events, explains, “They’re part of the allure of the Super Bowl. They obviously go back to the early days of the game and there is something powerful that resonates with fans. That connection, that makes it feel very special.”

The Super Bowl has used roman numerals every year since 1971, which was Super Bowl V. The only exception? Last year, in Northern California, they played Super Bowl 50.

O’Reilly said they made that choice because, “50 was powerful, it was that golden year so we brought the ’50’ out. But we are committed to roman numerals. Our feedback from fans is stick with it, there is a strong sentiment that there is some nostalgia there so we’re keeping it alive.”

There’s plenty of Super Bowl nostalgia in Houston. The city has already hosted two Super Bowls, first in 1974 and again in 2004.

Ric Campo, Chairman of the Houston Host Committee, says the city is excited to be hosting the game again. “It’s finally coming together and we really are excited about that. Houstonians being able to showcase their city through the city of the future, the next 50 Super Bowls, taking us to Super Bowl 100, right?”

#100 would be Super Bowl C…unless the NFL decides to make another exception. They have 49 years to make that call.

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