Super Bowl: Get rid of the Roman numerals, already

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    Fans line up to have their photo taken with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on display at the NFL Experience ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots in Atlanta, Wednesday. Jim Ingraham says using Roman numerals to designate the NFL is needlessly complicated.



You guys up for Super Bowl LIII?

Not the game, the name. I have no problem with the game. The game’s the thing. The Roman numerals are not. Get ’em out of here! Enough already. The Roman numerals are pointless and annoying.

The Roman numerals are everything that is wrong with the NFL. Well, maybe not everything, because that list is pretty long. But Roman numerals are definitely in the top V of what is wrong with the NFL.

Memo to the NFL: You’re not that important. You haven’t earned Roman numerals. You don’t deserve Roman numerals. Nobody likes Roman numerals. The NFL needs to stop the forward progress of Roman numerals.

Pop quiz: Who played in the 2016 World Series? That’s right, the Indians and the Cubs.

Quick: Who played in Super Bowl XXXVII?

How about Super Bowl XLV?

Super Bowl XXIV, anyone?

Do you even know what year any of those Super Bowls were played?


This is insane. It’s more insane than the NFL’s replay or challenge systems. It’s more insane than the NFL’s definition of what’s a catch. It’s more insane than Booger McFarland riding on a crane up and down the sidelines on Monday Night Football XLVIII.

The whole purpose of labeling something, of giving something a name, is to help in the identification of that something.

Memo to Roger Goodell: Your something is the Super Bowl. But nobody knows who played in any of your Super Bowls because nobody remembers what year any of your Super Bowls were played.


Because you’re using Roman numerals to identify them.

Using Roman numerals obfuscates, rather than clarifies, when a particular Super Bowl was played. Why? Because the Roman numerals attached to each Super Bowl have absolutely no connection to the year that Super Bowl was played, much less to the Gregorian calendar itself.


Because the Roman numerals date back to the year the first Super Bowl was played, not, as some believe, to the Big Bang, or the day goal posts were invented. Nope. The Roman numerals date back to just a random starting point, far too fog-shrouded to remember, especially for the sport that spawned Booger McFarland.

Seriously. What percentage of NFL fans know, or care what year the first Super Bowl was played? Probably the same percentage that knows the name of the company that manufactures Pylon Cam.

Yet if you don’t know what year the first Super Bowl was played, you have no chance — zero — of determining, without the help of Roger Goodell’s gofer, what year, say, Super Bowl XLI was played.

Even if you know what year the first Super Bowl was played, you’re still a 65-yard field goal away from knowing when Super Bowl XLI was played. Why? Because you’d also have to know how Roman numerals work. Not just one to X (ten). But the ones way above ten (X). You know, the tricky ones. They’re out there. I’m talking about the V’s and L’s, and, if you go way out there, some C’s and D’s and even an M.

I’m not trying to show off or anything, but when we finally get around to playing the 1,000th Super Bowl in history, it will be known as Super Bowl M. Because M is the Roman numeral for the number 1,000.

You could look it up.

Go ahead, I just did.

I’d be willing to bet that even most people who have been to Rome don’t know their Roman numerals, and even if they do, how many of them care about football like we do?

It’s my guess, and it’s only a guess, because that’s what those of us who don’t know much have to rely on when it comes to acting like we know something, that the overlap between football fanatics and Roman numeral fanatics is so small that if push comes to shove, my money’s on the football fanatics.

But who needs all these headaches? Just call the Super Bowl by the year in which it’s played, and let’s all go home and eat.

The NFL is making this way too complicated. Especially now, when the Super Bowls are starting to get up there in tricky Roman numeral territory.

We all know that Kirk Gibson took Dennis Eckersley deep in the 1988 World Series. Don Larsen’s perfect game? That’s easy. The 1956 World Series. LeBron’s blocked shot on Andre Iguodala? Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Then there’s Scott Norwood’s unforgettable missed field goal at the end of the game that prevented the Buffalo Bills from winning the Super Bowl in . . . um . . . uh . . . I think it was one of the Super Bowls with a V in it, but I can’t remember if the V came before or after the X . . . or maybe it was two X’s.

Way to stifle your sport’s history.

Contact Jim Ingraham at (440) 329-7135 or

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