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Why does NFL use Roman numerals for Super Bowl games?

We look at the NFL’s reasoning for using Roman numerals instead of standard Arabic numerals when referring to Super Bowls.

Super Bowl LVII Billboards
Super Bowl LVII will be played in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday February 12.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Roman Empire fell nearly 1,600 years ago, and yet we still use Roman numerals for countless things with the Super Bowl being no exception. Here is a brief history of why the NFL started using Roman numerals in its Super Bowl name, and what the Roman numeral is for this year’s contest.

Why does the NFL use Roman numerals?

The NFL uses Roman numerals for its Super Bowls to avoid confusion in the fact that the big game is played in the calendar year after the regular season preceding it. Why the Roman numerals instead of plain-old numbers clear up that confusion more effectively is unclear, but Lamar Hunt felt that the Roman numerals would keep things uniform.

When did the NFL start using Roman numerals?

Speaking of Hunt, he came up with this idea ahead of Super Bowl V. That was the first game to use the Roman numeral in real-time, and I, II, III, and IV were all added retroactively to the first four games. So January 17, 1971, is the first time a Roman numeral was used in an official Super Bowl name in real-time.

What Roman numeral is this year’s Super Bowl?

This year’s Roman numeral is LVII (57). L = 50 + V = 5 + II = 2.

This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 57, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.