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The Curse of Hosting the Super Bowl


There are two undeniable and hard truths regarding Super Bowls: none of them has ever reached overtime, and no home team has ever been able to host the game. Even while we are dealing with a smallish sample of only 49 games so far, the fact that we haven't seen any of these occurrences fascinates me to no end, especially the latter part.

With the San Francisco 49ers out of playoff contention and starting a rebuilding project (presumably with a new quarterback), again it means that the team hosting the Super Bowl won't be a part of the festivities for the 50th straight year. In many ways, the announcement of a city hosting the Super Bowl has almost meant a death sentence for its franchise.

The first couple of decades of Super Bowls were rotated mostly among a fixated set of fair-weather stadiums and domes, with teams like the Dolphins, Saints, and Rams never being a serious threat to contend. The end of the 80's brought upon a new era for the NFL, as the league started a period of expansion and the construction of new stadiums, which allowed for new locales to be able to host the ultimate event.

In more recent times, even controversial new stadiums have been immediately selected for a Super Bowl after completing construction, as it has become a tradition for the NFL as a way to boost its brand. But even as the money has rolled in for the city and its corresponding franchise, they probably would have traded it all for a chance at winning a championship.

As we can see from the table below, the teams that have hosted the Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXV have been mostly terrible on that same year:

Super Bowl

Stadium

Team Record

Result

XXV

Tampa Stadium

6-10

Missed Playoffs

XXVI

Metrodome

8-8

Missed Playoffs

XXVII

Rose Bowl (Raiders)

9-7

Missed Playoffs

XXVIII

Georgia Dome

6-10

Missed Playoffs

XXIX

Joe Robbie (Dolphins)

10-6

Lost Divisional Playoffs

XXX

Sun Devil (Cardinals)

4-12

Missed Playoffs

XXXI

Superdome

3-13

Missed Playoffs

XXXII

Qualcomm (Chargers)

4-12

Missed Playoffs

XXXIII

Pro Player (Dolphins)

10-6

Lost Divisional Playoffs

XXXIV

Georgia Dome

5-11

Missed Playoffs

XXXV

Raymond James (Bucs)

10-6

Lost Wild Card

XXXVI

Superdome

7-9

Missed Playoffs

XXXVII

Qualcomm

8-8

Missed Playoffs

XXXVIII

Reliant (Texans)

5-11

Missed Playoffs

XXXIX

ALLTEL (Jaguars)

9-7

Missed Playoffs

XL

Ford (Lions)

5-11

Missed Playoffs

XLI

Dolphin

6-10

Missed Playoffs

XLII

Univ. Of Phoenix

8-8

Missed Playoffs

XLIII

Raymond James

9-7

Missed Playoffs

XLIV

Sun Life

7-9

Missed Playoffs

XLV

Cowboys

6-10

Missed Playoffs

XLVI

Lucas Oil (Colts)

2-14

Missed Playoffs

XLVII

Superdome

7-9

Missed Playoffs

XLVIII

Met Life

Giants: 7-9

Missed Playoffs

 

 

Jets: 8-8

Missed Playoffs

XLIX

Univ. Of Phoenix

11-5

Lost Wild Card

L

Levi's Stadium

4-9*

Missed Playoffs

*through Week 14 of 2015

For this, a quick recount:

27 Team Seasons
7 Winning Records
4 Playoff Appearances
1 Playoff Win

Even in a sport that thrives on small sample sizes and lucky breaks that define whole seasons, the results are astonishing. The only playoff win recorded by a team on the same year it was set to host the Super Bowl came in 1999, when the Dan Marino-led Dolphins beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card round only to then fall to the Jaguars by a scandalous 62-7 margin.

The bad beats don't stop there. For example, the Colts hosted the Super Bowl on the same year they lost Peyton Manning for a full season. Even as the 2-14 mark led them to the top of the Draft and landed them Andrew Luck, it would have been interesting to see the franchise try to go for the home Super Bowl. Similarly, a year ago the Cardinals were trending upwards on the way to hosting the big game, but lost QB Carson Palmer to a season-ending injury and came into the playoffs severely undermanned.

 In other cases, having a well-conditioned stadium has not been matched with fielding a solid team, as it has mostly happened with the Saints franchise, the early-90's Falcons, the Lions, or the just-created Texans. Timing is essential in football, and so it seems that too many things have to break right for a team to reach the championship game, and doubly so if they are set to play host.

With the Super Bowl site always set years in advance, we know that the 51st and 52nd editions will be hosted by the Texans and Vikings, respectively. Houston will get a repeat, while Minnesota is bound to open its new stadium and quickly be in the spotlight. Even as both franchises have talent and could be projected to be competitive in the next couple of years, they are pegged with the curse of hosting a Super Bowl and thus be doomed to suffer greatly.

Undoubtedly, some year this “curse” will be broken and true home fans will be able to provide home-field advantage in a Super Bowl, which should be a memorable feat by itself. While we always see this play out in MLB, NHL, and NBA title series, the NFL will have to wait yet another year. After waiting now for 50 years, it shouldn't be much longer before it happens.



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