Typically, we deal with Roman numerals twice in our life or throughout the calendar year. Those out-of-place middle school math classes, and the NFL’s Super Bowl.
Except this year, only middle schoolers have to deal with the confounded, lettered numbers as the NFL opts for traditional Arabic numerals for Super Bowl 50.
The Feb. 7 contest, pitting the AFC and NFC Champion at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, California, will be the first time the league hasn’t used Roman digits since the title game’s fourth iteration. Super Bowl V, way back in 1971, was the first time the league used Roman numerals and it has ever since.
The NFL, and in particular its 32 owners and league commissioner Roger Goodell, have withstood major changes to their game and their brand. Players are often fined for altering their jerseys, even if it’s to honor a former player or deceased family member, and the league routinely controls its viral content by removing videos from web sites to drive attention and traffic back to its main site.
But this is the Super Bowl, the NFL’s most important event and brand, and the league’s had these plans for quite some time and addressed the one-year switch prior to Super Bowl XLVIII (49) between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
"When we developed the Super Bowl XL logo, that was the first time we looked at the letter L," NFL vice president of brad and creative Jaime Weston said to ESPN. "Up until that point, we had only worked with X's, V's and I's. And, at that moment, that's when we started to wonder: What will happen when we get to 50?"
Last June, the league unveiled Super Bowl 50’s logo, with the traditional numbers flanking the coveted Lombardi Trophy.
Here's the regional Super Bowl 50 logo with SF landmarks engulfed in fog pic.twitter.com/boJN1VCfCS
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 4, 2014
Following this year’s game, the NFL will switch back to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI in 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The NFL is expected to continue using Roman numerals for subsequent Super Bowls.