In case you didn't know: The Golden State hosted the first-ever Super Bowl back in 1967, and has been the site of 10 out of 50 big games—making California second (tied with Louisiana) only to Florida, which has hosted 15 Super Bowls.
And that's not all: Eight of the winners in the past 50 years have hailed from California, more than any other state (Wisconsin ranks next with six). But the relationship runs far deeper, far more intrinsic than that: Technically speaking, California is where the notion of a Super Bowl began.
Historians believe the name Super Bowl evolved from the Rose Bowl, the original season-ending college football game that was first played as the Tournament East-West Football Game in Pasadena, California, in 1902. That game got its name because it was played in conjunction with the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses, and it was played in a stadium that looked like a bowl (don’t they all?).
In the 1920s, the Rose Bowl was the only championship show in town. A decade later, other year-ending contests joined the fun and the notion of a “bowl game” became synonymous with a big game to cap a season.
Fast forward to the 1960s when the National Football League and the American Football League negotiated a merger. Kansas City Chiefs’ owner Lamar Hunt used the phrase “Super Bowl” to refer to a contest between the champions of each league to determine the best team in the land. Though the league opted to refer to the deciding game as the NFL-AFL Championship Game, Hunt’s phrase was a fan favorite, and became the game’s official moniker before the 1966-1967 season.
Since then, some of the most memorable Super Bowls have involved California in one way or another: Such as Super Bowl I, in which the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles. And Super Bowl XI, when the Oakland Raiders won their first of three titles, defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Pasadena. There was also Super Bowl XVI, when the San Francisco 49ers won their first of five titles by outlasting the Cincinnati Bengals in Pontiac, Michigan. That was just the beginning.
The Niners won back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 80s. (Courtesy of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee)
In the late 1980s, the 49ers became the first team in a decade to win back-to-back Super Bowls, taking Super Bowl XXIII and Super Bowl XXIV (in Miami and New Orleans, respectively). The most recent Super Bowl in California was Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego; in that game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders, 48-21. And the best Super Bowl in California? According to some, that would have to be Super Bowl XIX in Palo Alto, California, during which hometown hero Joe Montana and the 49ers bested fellow quarterbacking legend Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins, 38-16.
Where will Super Bowl 50 rank among the rest of the California contests? Time will tell. But with the Super Bowl being played at a brand new venue here in the Golden State, it’s sure to be a big game that sparkles.
Bay Area Super Bowl highlights:
The Oakland Raiders 38-9 win against the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII broke Super Bowl records. (Courtesy of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee)
1977 - Oakland Raiders defeat Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI to caputre their first Super Bowl title.
1981 - Raiders defeat Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV for their second Super Bowl Championship.
1982 - Dwight Clark makes "The Catch" as 49ers win the NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers go on to defeat the Bengals for their first title.
Marcus Allen post-game Super Bowl XVIII. (Courtesy of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee)
1984 - Raiders defeat the Redskins 38-9. The Raiders' points and margin of victory broke Super Bowl records; it still remains the most points scored by an AFC team in a Super Bowl.
1985 - 49ers get their second Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX, at Stanford Stadium.
1989 - 49ers win their third Super Bowl title after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. This championship would be coach Bill Walsh's final in his storied career.
1990 - 49ers defeat the Broncos 55-10 to capture their second consecutive Super Bowl Championship. The 45 point differential is the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history.
1995 - 49ers defeat the Chargers to capture their fifth Super Bowl Championship; a record at the time for most titles by any franchise in the NFL.
1998 - Led by Palo Alto's Stan Honey, Fremont based company Sportsvision introduces the yellow first-down line in an NFL game for the first time on television.
Santa Clara's LEED Gold-Certified Levi's Stadium is a perfect venue to host the golden anniversary of the Super Bowl this year. (Photo by Sherry Tesler)
2016 - Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium, the biggest Super Bowl the NFL has ever celebrated, and the first and only game to use Arabic numbers instead of Roman numerals.