Roman numerals perfectly aligned for ‘XL’ in Detroit

Published 6:45 pm Monday, February 6, 2006

By Staff
It seemed like a case of the National Football League finally giving its championship game an appellation befitting its appetites: XL.
Sure, the game played Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit with a halftime show highlighted by the legendary Rolling Stones just happens to be the Roman numerals representing the 40th of these football games.
But the Super Bowl has always been known for and reveled in its excesses, so everybody seized on the well-deserved “Extra Large” like it's a tag in some sail-sized American underpants for an enormous event combining sports, culture and commercial watching.
The 30-second ad spot which cost $40,000 40 years ago has increased 62.5 times to $2.5 million.
Had gasoline kept pace, it would cost $20.62 per gallon.
Tickets cost as little as $6 for the first game, compared to $500 today.
The Super Bowl leads a lot of leagues (all 10 of the most-watched television programs in history are Super Bowls), not the least of which is the largest day for eating avocados - more even than Cinco de Mayo.
The 49.5 million pounds make enough guacamole to cover Ford Field from end zone to end zone in a chunky green layer 11.8 feet deep, according to the Hass Avocado Board.
Nine percent of the annual crop will be eaten on Super Bowl Sunday.
It's Domino's Pizza's biggest day of the year, selling more than 1.2 million pies.
Some chains sell more than 40 percent more pizzas than they do on a normal Sunday.
The National Chicken Council estimates that Americans consumed 90 million pounds of wings over the weekend - that's 450 million individual wings.
At Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in 1993, Michael Jackson sang “Heal the World” surrounded by 3,500 children.
O.J. Simpson took part in the ceremonial coin toss that same day.
Only at an event as Extra Large as the Super Bowl could you fit those two on the same bill.
The biggest audience, 144.4 million in 2004, saw the Patriots defeat the Carolina Panthers.
Teams like to reward themselves for performing well on this global stage with extra large, diamond-encrusted rings.
The gaudiest would have to be last year's New England Patriots repeat title, its third in four years.
Each player received a 14-carat white gold ring with 124 diamonds and three tiny Lombardi Trophies.
The $15,000 rings the previous year were modest by comparison, with “only” 104 diamonds.
Legends spring up around an event this Extra Large.
A water main broke in Salt Lake City on Super Bowl Sunday in 1984, fueling the myth that the collective flushing of toilets at halftime is capable of crippling sewerage in major cities.
Another myth is that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the year's worst days for domestic violence against women.
In 1993, women's advocacy groups, citing various reports, promoted NBC to air a public-service announcement during the network's game coverage - but a Washington Post investigation debunked the claims.
It's true, however, that the NFL title game's outcome typically forecasts stock-market performance for the rest of a year.
Eighty percent of the time, a win by an “old NFL” team means a bullish market.
Another tall tale is that Super Bowl Sunday makes for one of the most dangerous days on U.S. roads.
Data are actually mixed. Car crashes do spike right after the game, but fatalities are low compared with other days of the year.
Imagine the book it would take to adequately relate the lore of four decades of Super Bowls.
The limited edition volume is scheduled for release in September.
It weighs 88 pounds and carries a $4,000 price tag - as Extra Large as the gargantuan game itself.