Super Bowl curse

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The Super Bowl curse is a phrase referring to one of three things: Super Bowl participants that follow up with lower-than-expected performance the following year; teams that do not repeat as Super Bowl champions; and host teams of the Super Bowl that do not play the game on their own home turf.

Also called a Super Bowl hangover, it has been used, for example, to explain both why losing teams may post below-average winning percentages in the following year and why Super Bowl champions seldom return to the title game the following year. The term has been used since at least 1992, when The Washington Post commented that "the Super Bowl Curse has thrown everything it's got at the Washington Redskins. The Jinx that has bedeviled defending champs for 15 years has never been in better form".[1] The phenomenon is attributed by football commentator and former NFL manager Charley Casserly to such elements as "a shorter offseason, contract issues, [and] more demand for your players' time".[2] Casserly also notes that "once the season starts, you become the biggest game on everybody's schedule."[2]

The Losers' Curse[edit]

While the first five Super Bowl winners of the 2000s posted above average winning percentages the year following their Super Bowl appearance, the losers of the same games posted below average winning percentages in the follow-up year.[3] The Super Bowl curse is also said to apply to winners of the game, as since 1993 few winning teams have followed up their Super Bowl successes with a second Super Bowl appearance (Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots won; Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks lost; or even advanced to a conference title game in the subsequent season (Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks). In the Super Bowl era two teams have lost the Super Bowl, then won it the following season. The first was the Dallas Cowboys, who lost Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts, but came back in 1971 and defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. The Dolphins repeated the feat in 1972 when they rallied to go a perfect 17-0, capping the season with a win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

Losing teams mentioned in connection to the curse[edit]

Super Bowl losing teams who went on to poor follow-up performance include:[3]


There have been several exceptions since this curse supposedly began in 1977.

  • New England Patriots (Super Bowl XLII) - 2007 season: 16-0. After having the first perfect season since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the Patriots went 11-5 in the 2008 season and missed the playoffs barely by losing tiebreakers with Miami in their division and Baltimore for the wild card. The "Super Bowl curse" took a different road, since their starting quarterback, Tom Brady, suffered a season-ending injury in the opening game of the season.

The Non-Repeat Curse[edit]

This type of the curse has affected defending Super Bowl Champions since 2005. Only seven teams have won back-to-back Super Bowl championships.

Considering the difficulty of winning one Super Bowl in a 32-team league, some wouldn't consider this to be a curse, but rather a difficult feat.

The Home Field Curse[edit]

The third type of the curse is one that affects the host team of the Super Bowl. The closest have been the San Francisco 49ers who played Super Bowl XIX in Stanford Stadium, rather than Candlestick Park, and the Los Angeles Rams who played Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl, rather than the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Besides those two, the only other Super Bowl venue that was not the home stadium to an NFL team at the time was Rice Stadium in Houston: the Houston Oilers had played there previously, but moved to the Astrodome several years prior to Super Bowl VIII. The Miami Orange Bowl was the only AFL stadium to host a Super Bowl and the only stadium to host consecutive Super Bowls, hosting Super Bowl II and III. MetLife Stadium, which hosted Super Bowl XLVIII, is the home stadium of two NFL teams: the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

The Indianapolis Colts were in a rare situation at the end of the 2011 season, becoming the fourth host team of a Super Bowl to have the worst record in the NFL for their particular season. This also happened to the 1973 Houston Oilers (Super Bowl VIII), the 1980 New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl XV), and the 1983 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl XVIII).

The New Orleans Saints, whose home stadium (the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) hosted Super Bowl XLVII, were affected heavily by the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal as their head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season due to the implications against them and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Some media outlets such as Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated have claimed that the Home Field Curse was in effect there. However, many fans, local and otherwise blame the bounty scandal on Commissioner Roger Goodell. The end result to their season was their elimination from post-season contention in Week 16.

The hosts curse has a wider effect on the San Diego Chargers, in which every time San Diego has hosted the Super Bowl, an AFC West rival has represented the AFC: the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII and XXXII – the Broncos winning the latter – and the Raiders in XXXVII. Besides San Diego, the other instances where a divisional rival of the host has played in the Super Bowl were: Super Bowl III, which the New York Jets won in the Miami Dolphins' Orange Bowl; Super Bowl XXX, which the Dallas Cowboys won in the Arizona Cardinals' Sun Devil Stadium; the St. Louis Rams, who won Super Bowl XXXIV in the Atlanta Falcons' Georgia Dome and lost Super Bowl XXXVI in the New Orleans Saints' Louisiana Superdome; and the Seattle Seahawks, who played in Super Bowl XLIX in the Arizona Cardinals' University of Phoenix Stadium.

Super Bowl XLVIII had the distinction of having two host teams: the New York Jets, and the New York Giants, as both play their home games at MetLife Stadium. Although it was conceivably possible to make NFL history as the first ever Super Bowl with two host teams playing against each other on the same turf, both teams were eliminated from postseason contention in week 15 of the 2013 regular season. That season the Giants got off to an 0-6 start.

Super Bowl 50 will be held at Levi's Stadium and during the offseason, the San Francisco 49ers parted ways with highly successful coach Jim Harbaugh after a power struggle with owner Jed York. York replaced him by promoting defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, a highly criticized hiring motivated by York's desire to have full control of the franchise rather than hiring the best possible candidate for the job. This move subsequently led to many assistant coaches refusing to serve on Tomsula's coaching staff. Furthermore, the 49ers were also affected by the unexpected retirements of Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, and Anthony Davis, who were all in their prime of their careers, the free agent departures of Frank Gore and Mike Iupati, and the release of Aldon Smith after getting arrested again. With an unprecedented roster turnover, the 49ers would struggle to a 5-11 season with Colin Kaepernick ending the season on injured reserve after being benched. The 49ers would ultimately be eliminated from the postseason in Week 14 of the 2015 regular season and Tomsula would be fired after just one season.

Whatever the case may be, the host team(s) of a Super Bowl has (a) VIP section(s) in the stadium during the game. In a way, not having the home team play in the Super Bowl is actually beneficial to the host city as it would receive more out-of-town visitors than if the host team was playing in the Super Bowl. Combined with the increased costs of airfare and hotel during the event, the economy would see a bigger revenue boost as a larger portion of attendees would be local if the host team participated.

The most recent Super Bowl host to make the NFL playoffs is the 2014 Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals lost to the Carolina Panthers 16–27 in the NFC Wild-Card Playoff game, thus ensuring that the Super Bowl home field curse would continue for another season as starting quarterback Carson Palmer was lost to a season-ending ACL injury and backup quarterback Drew Stanton suffered an MCL sprain that made him unable to participate in the playoff game.

From 1966-2011, excluding the 6 Super Bowls held in a stadium without a professional team, the Super Bowl host team had a record of 249-364-2. In those 40 years, the host teams had 11 winning seasons, 4 split seasons, and 25 losing seasons. Mathematically, the probability of that many losing seasons or more occurring by chance (assuming a 50% chance of having a losing season (disregarding .500 seasons)) is 7.69%.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Credit Belichick for beating Super Bowl curse". The Sacramento Bee. October 25, 2006. pp. C3. 
  • Freeman, Mike (December 12, 1991). "Fans cry: Off with Giants' Head (Coach)!". The Washington Post. 
  • Green Jr., Ron (November 5, 2004). "Lost-the-Super-Bowl blues afflict Panthers, Raiders". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 2C. 
  • "Less and more than rumored Miami and the Super Bowl curse". Sarasota Herald Tribune. January 30, 1999. 
  • Penner, Mike (August 27, 2006). "Curses are reality to fantasy leaguers". Los Angeles Times. pp. D.2. 


  1. ^ Boswell, Thomas. (September 21, 1992) "A Curse but not yet a sin" (article sample at The Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b Gruber, Jack. (February 6, 2007). Champions, for now — Super Bowl curse could vex Colts, Bears. USA Today. Retrieved 19/04/08.
  3. ^ a b Simpson, Matt. (September 17, 2006) Seattle out to break Super Bowl curse. "Tribune". Retrieved 19/04/08.
  4. ^ Ken Belson (February 1, 2010). "Is the Super Bowl curse real? Just ask Brady, Alexander and others". 

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