From its origins in 1920, the NFL fended off several rival leagues that tried to battle for both players and audiences but it wasn't until the birth of the American Football League in 1960 that the NFL found itself with a legitimate challenger to deal with. The AFL successfully lured away NFL players and convinced many top college stars to join, driving salaries upward as the two loops battled in bidding wars for the best young talent. Finally, in 1966, the two leagues came to a merger agreement but would remain rival leagues until 1970 because of TV deals.
The NFL and AFL decided as part of the merger agreement to immediately begin an annual title game between the champions of the two leagues, the first one to be played on Jan. 5, 1967.
The showdown was originally labeled the AFL-NFL Championship, but Lamar Hunt, owner of the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, who lost the first game 35-10 to the NFL's Green Bay Packers, suggested the name Super Bowl to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Hunt came up with the idea after watching his daughter playing with a rubber Super Ball, a popular toy in the 1960s. Originally there was resistance to the title, but it quickly caught on and by the third game between the AFL's New York Jets and NFL's Baltimore Colts, the game was forever dubbed the Super Bowl. It wasn't until the fifth Super Bowl between the Colts and Dallas Cowboys that the usage of roman numerals to indicate which game was being played was implemented.
Best Super Bowl Sportsbook Odds
Ready to put some money down on the Super Bowl? Look below to reference the game odds. It's an essential first step in the betting process for the biggest sporting event of the year.
What Is The Super Bowl Matchup
You'll find all the information you need on the Super Bowl matchup right here. Through the first 50 Super Bowls, the NFC has a slight 26-24 edge.
How To Make Money Betting On Super Bowl
The team with the most Super Bowl wins is the Pittsburgh Steelers with six, an NFL team that was relocated to the AFC as part of the 1970 merger along with the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts and the original Cleveland Browns, today the Baltimore Ravens.
The only team to represent both sides in the Super Bowl, the Colts were involved in what still is viewed as the most famous Super Bowl of all, when, as 18-point favorites, the NFL champion Colts fell 16-7 to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, a victory famously guaranteed by Jets quarterback Joe Namath.
The NFL powerhouse Green Bay Packers whipped the Kansas City Chiefs (35-10) and Oakland Raiders (33-14) in the first two Super Bowl games, so the AFL desperately needed to display to the football public that it was a legitimate league and could compete with the more established NFL. Namath and the Jets made it so.
If you want to make money betting on the Super Bowl, don't always play the favorite. Underdogs often win the big game, occasionally at long odds. The win by the New York Jets as 18-point underdogs against the Baltimore Colts is the most famous Super Bowl upset, but there have been other notable achievements over the years.
Even perfection doesn't guarantee Super Bowl success. The New England Patriots rolled into Super Bowl XLII at 18-0 and as 12-point picks over the New York Giants, but the Giants scored late for a 17-14 win.
The Patriots were the ones with upset in mind in Super Bowl XXXVI, downing the St. Louis Rams on an Adam Vinatieri field goal for a 17-14 win despite being 14-point underdogs in what was the first Super Bowl win for the combination of New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
Another indication that favorites will fall on the path to the Super Bowl - the Super Bowl 50 matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers marked just the third time since 1993 that both No. 1 seeds advanced to meet in the big game.
The beautiful thing about the Super Bowl is that as North America's premiere sporting event, there is a bet for everybody. You don't need to know anything at all about football to make a Super Bowl prop bet, and you can wager on just about anything you can imagine on Super Bowl Sunday.
Some Super Bowl prop bets include over/under on the length of the National Anthem. Will the coin toss be heads or tails? What color will the Gatorade that's dumped over the head of the winning coach be? Who will make the first pass catch? Who will score the first touchdown? What type of scoring play will first occur in the game?
At Super Bowl 50, you could wager on whether Peyton Manning would announce his retirement during his post-game interview, and on how many times his father Archie Manning would be shown in the crowd.
Like we said, at the Super Bowl, there's a wager for everybody.