NFL Plans to Return to Roman Numerals After Super Bowl 50

Joe PantornoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2016

Official balls for the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game are seen in a bin prior to final inspection at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. The Denver Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, CA. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

For those of you who were kept up at night ruing the fact that Super Bowl 50 was not in Roman numeral form, there's good news.

Bruce Newman of the San Jose Mercury News reported this week that after this edition of the NFL's championship game, the league will go back to displaying the Super Bowl numbers in its more traditional Roman numeral form.

NFL Creative Director Shandon Melvin told Newman that the league is "very committed" to going back to the old style, beginning with Super Bowl LI (51) next year.

"They're part of us," Melvin said. "Such a strong icon for the game. We just wanted to do something a little different for once."    

Melvin continued to explain why the league simply didn't go with Super Bowl L, the Roman numeral for the number 50: "L immediately brought up so many negative connotations. It's very asymmetrical. And three-quarters of the letter is negative space. It's like, what do you do with this thing to make it look attractive? I'll take an X any day of the week. Or any other letter for that matter."

Newman elaborated on some of the negatives of having just the letter L attached to the Super Bowl. 

"The formation of an L with thumb and forefinger had become a universally accepted, derisive gesture for 'Loser,'" he wrote. "And unlike most of the Roman system's other block numerals, L had such a vertical shape it nearly disappeared into the equally upright Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the winning team every year."

The Roman numeral has become a familiar sight for football fans. For many of them, the only reason why they know how to comprehend that style of numbering is because of the Super Bowl. While small, it's something that will help keep fans connected to the sport as the game seemingly undergoes changes every year. 

However, fans should get used to this letter, or should I (not 1) say numeral L. Likely until Super Bowl LXXXIX, which would be 89, that letter will be the starting unit for each and every one of the NFL's biggest games.