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Ingenious NFL Idea: Super Bowl Throwback Weekend!

In this week’s Monday Morning Uni Watch recap, I mentioned that the Bengals and 49ers had worn pretty much the same uniforms that they wore in Super Bowl XVI.

It turns out that there have been a lot of Super Bowl rematches during recent NFL games. And that gave reader Jared Pike a good idea. Like, a really good idea. And he’s written a really, really good blog post about it — trust me, you’re gonna like this.

Take it away, Jared!

Super Bowl Throwback Weekend
By Jared Pike

One of my favorite things about the NFL is the symmetry of its schedule. Each of the divisions plays the other divisions on a rotating basis, so eventually everyone plays everyone. What used to take weeks to assemble (by one savant in a locked room with little paper tags) is now computable and somewhat predictable.

Which is why Week Nine of the 2021 NFL season was such a fascinating outlier: Five of that week’s games happened to be rematches of previous Super Bowls — the most ever in a single week. It seems like something the NFL would have intentionally planned, but it was just coincidence.

The NFL is missing a trick here. They’ve invested heavily, and successfully, in building up the mythology of the Super Bowl. Throwbacks are nothing new in the NFL, so they should certainly see the value in having a designated weekend for throwback Super Bowl matchups — an idea that would be easier to execute now that the one-shell rule is being lifted.

But is it possible to host more than five such matchups on a given weekend? Or to put it another way, what’s the maximum number of Super Bowl rematches you could stage in one 16-game slate? Let’s delve into the mathematics and see if we can help the NFL matriculate this idea down the field.

First, some common-sense guidelines: Any team celebrating a historic Super Bowl win would obviously want to do so at home. But that’s a problem: 20 teams have won at least one Super Bowl, and there’s a maximum of 16 games in an NFL weekend. In the spirit of parity, we will favor teams who have had either the fewest Super Bowl appearances or the longest drought since their last Super Bowl win, and thus would benefit the most by reliving past glories. (The Patriots, for example, aren’t in desperate need of a ceremony to boost the sagging morale of their long-suffering fans.)

This lands us first and foremost on the Jets, whose only Super Bowl appearance came in 1969. OK, book it: Colts at Jets. Joe Namath conducts the coin toss in a fur coat.

1. Colts at Jets (SB III)

Are there any other champions who’ve had only one Super Bowl appearance? Yes: the Saints. So let’s book that too: Saints host… oh right, the Colts. Hmmm. This could be harder than we initially thought.

Okay, let’s back-burner that for now and figure out who else has just one Super Bowl win. The Bears’ only victory came against the Patriots. Also, the Eagles, whose only victory came against … the Patriots. Sorry, Philly — the Bears have the longer drought. So that’s our second game.

2. Patriots at Bears (SB XX)

With New England out, Philly’s only other possible opponent would be the Raiders, who beat them in 1981. What a visual spectacle this game would be: the triumphant return of Kelly green in a black Las Vegas dome.

3. Eagles at Raiders (SB XV)

Then we arrive at the Rams, whose only Super Bowl win came against the Titans. This is a no-brainer to re-enact. Paint the SoFi Stadium end zones yellow, and for pregame ceremonies bring back Mike Jones to tackle Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line.

4. Titans at Rams (SB XXXIV)

Next: The Cardinals have appeared in only one Super Bowl, losing to the Steelers. If our goal is to maximize the theoretical number of teams involved, Arizona have to take the L and re-enact Super Bowl XLIII. Have James Harrison run 100 yards to deliver the game ball.

5. Cardinals at Steelers (SB XLIII)

Our last remaining team with just one Super Bowl win is Seattle, who defeated Denver in 2013. Their other Super Bowl opponents (Pittsburgh and New England) are already taken, so this is on the schedule by process of elimination.

6. Broncos at Seahawks (SB XLVIII)

Now that the one-off teams are settled, the combinatorics get a little fuzzy. Most of the remaining teams have won or lost multiple Super Bowls, many against each other. So how do you prioritize who plays whom?

Let’s start by defaulting to the longest Super Bowl drought remaining on the board, which belongs to the Dolphins. Their choice is obvious: bring back the NFL’s only perfect team to pop the champagne and coronate their Super Bowl VII win against Washington. But this choice also has an intriguing subplot, because, Miami also lost to Washington in Super Bowl XVII. For the rubber match, Miami will force the teams to dress in their 1972 uniforms, rather than the 1982 gear that made John Riggins famous.

7. Washington at Miami (SB VII)

[Some folks, myself included, might object to reviving Washington’s Native American iconography, so that helmet design might have to be adjusted. — Paul]

Next up is San Francisco. Their opponent should be the Cincinnati Bengals, whose only two Super Bowl appearances have been against the 49ers. Of course they will re-enact the 1989 Super Bowl (nobody remembers the 1982 matchup except Chris Collinsworth).

8. Bengals at 49ers (SB XXIII)

The next team on the clock is the Cowboys, who last won the big game in 1996 (surprising, right?). Most of their Super Bowl opponents have already been scheduled, so their default whipping boy is Buffalo, in their glorious 1990s red helmets and blue jerseys. Honorary team captains: Leon Lett and Don Beebe.

9. Bills at Cowboys (SB XXIII)

This means the Giants have no one left to play except the Ravens. Book it, and bring back Britney Spears to perform the halftime show with Aerosmith and ‘N Sync.

10. Giants at Ravens (SB XXXV)

Who’s left? Wonder of wonders, the very first Super Bowl matchup — of Kansas City vs. Green Bay! This should be a default choice, like the Cincinnati Reds always opening the MLB season.. Host it at L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and have an augmented-reality balloon release (to be environmentally conscious).

11. KC at Packers (SB I)

Eleven games down, only five to go! Could it possibly turn out this perfectly? Well, no — we’ve now maxed out on potential Super Bowl rematches in a single NFL weekend. So how should we fill the remaining five games of our slate?

Minnesota and Atlanta are a combined 0-6 in the big game, so they don’t have much to celebrate. However, the 1998 Minnesota Vikings are the greatest team that should have played in the Super Bowl. And who did they lose to, in a thrilling NFC Championship game? The Atlanta Falcons! Give them a chance at redemption by restaging the game at US Bank Stadium.

12. Falcons at Vikings (1998 NFC Championship Game)

Moving on: Neither Cleveland nor Detroit has ever appeared in a Super Bowl. However, in the 1950s they played each other in the NFL Championship Game four times in an epic six years. Let’s remind everyone of the way things used to be by playing this game outside in December, with glorious throwback uniforms.

13. Lions at Browns (1952 NFL Championship)

The Texans are an interesting case. As the NFL’s newest team, they have yet to sniff the big game. But the Houston Oilers won the first AFL Championship Game on Jan. 1, 1961, defeating the Chargers. Just for this occasion, Houston should “rent” the Oilers’ visual identity from the Tennessee Titans for a day. And just for fun, let’s stage this game at the University of Houston’s outdoor stadium, which is at the site where the 1961 game was played. To see those sky-blue unis under an actual blue sky would be amazing.

14. Chargers at Texans-as-Oilers (1960 AFL Championship)

(Note: The photo shown above is from the 1961 AFL Championship, which featured the same two teams but was played the next year in San Diego. I couldn’t find any color photos of the 1960 AFL Championship, for which Houston wore blue and the Chargers wore white.)

This leaves us with just four outlying teams. We could give them a bye, but what fun would that be? Tampa Bay is 2-0 in the big game and deserves to host something (their two Super Bowl opponents, the Raiders and KC, are already spoken for). How about bringing back one of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl victims in the Carolina Panthers? At halftime, you could have Janet Jackson expose Justin Timberlake’s nipple.

15. Panthers at Buccaneers (SB XXXVIII, sort of)

Our final remaining teams are the Saints (remember them, sitting there on the back burner?) and Jaguars, who happened to play in one of the most memorable games in NFL history: 2003’s River City Relay. The Saints scored a wild multi-lateral touchdown on the final play of regulation but then missed the extra point to lose the game. While the game itself wasn’t consequential to either team’s history, it featured one of just two multi-lateral touchdowns in the 21st century (the other was from the Miracle in Miami game in 2018). Let’s re-enact it, and bring back John Carney for a redemption kick at halftime.

16. Saints at Jaguars (River City Relay)

So there you have it, our idealized Super Bowl Throwback Weekend: 11 proper Super Bowl rematches, four Super Bowl-adjacent games, and one crazy lateral game. I believe this is the most Super Bowl rematches that mathematics will allow in one weekend, but I’d love to see your alternatives! Either way, restaging the aesthetics of these historic uniforms is an NFL marketing bonanza just waiting to happen.

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Paul here. Is that a fun idea or what? And I love all of Jared’s little promotional ideas! After yesterday’s post (which I realize was probably a bit of a downer, even if you happened to agree with me), this is just the tonic we needed, am I right? Great job, Jared.

Personally, I’d love to see this idea come to fruition. Come on, Roger Goodell — make it so!

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Click to enlarge

A fun night of college hoops: Lots of interesting stuff in men’s college basketball last night. Let’s start in Philly, where Drexel was hosting Coppin State. But Coppin somehow forgot their jerseys (but not their shorts), so they wore Drexel practice jerseys, creating a two-tone uniform (see above).

The Drexel practice tanks look black in that photo, but they were actually dark blue, as seen here:

Meanwhile, out in Idaho, Boise State and Santa Clara didn’t just go color vs. color — they also went Broncos vs. Broncos! Check this out:

Well, at least it’s good to know that Nike can come up with two different script treatments for the same team name, right?

Now let’s head back to Tennessee, where Memphis wore Memphis State throwbacks (that was the school’s name until 1994), although they were overshadowed in this photo by Alabama point guard JD Davidson’s hair:

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Click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: What you see above is the cover of the in-flight menu that Oakland A’s players and staff were given while flying to and from Cincinnati during the 1972 World Series. Is that an awesome design or what?

The menu itself is really fun, too. Check this out:

The menu was posted on Facebook by Deonna Moore Shake, the daughter of former A’s broadcaster Monte Moore, who found it at her dad’s house. Great stuff!

(Big thanks to longtime reader Roger Faso for this one.)

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Just another normal night in America: In last Thursday’s “Indigenous Appropriation News” section, I reported that the school board in Glastonbury, Conn., which had voted last year to stop calling the local high school’s teams the Tomahawks, was planning a new hearing this week to reconsider that decision. That hearing was held last night but had to be cut short when a pro-Tomahawks community member confronted and then punched a school board member.

Quoting from this report:

After the public comment portion of the meeting, the board announced a 10-minute recess. That was when the board member and resident became confrontational with each other. 

The entire incident was recorded on a cell phone, showing the two men face-to-face, with the resident yelling directly into the board member’s face. When the resident gets even closer, the board member pushes him away into the auditorium seats. Then the resident punches the board member in the face, knocking him off his feet.

[…]

The man seen throwing a punch in the video was one of the speakers during public comment, angrily shouting at board members from the floor after his time had expired.

The meeting was then ended. It’s not clear how this will play out in terms of the “Tomahawks” team name.

(My thanks to Addison Walton and Mark Wolven for bringing this one to my attention.)

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“Dash for cash” update: The USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and the local mortgage company that staged the cash-groveling spectacle that I wrote about yesterday have now apologized. They are also giving an additional $500 to each of the 10 teachers who participated in the promotion, and are also giving $500 to each of the 21 other teachers who applied to participate but weren’t chosen. All of the funds will go toward classroom supplies.

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Teespring shipping snafu reminder: If you ordered one of our December “Swinging Santa” pins and either (a) received an empty mailer; (b) received more pins than you ordered; or (c) haven’t received anything at all, please let me know ASAP so I can make the proper arrangements.

I’m pretty sure we can get this all straightened out. Thanks for your patience, and doubleplusthanks to the people who are graciously mailing their extra pins to people who got stuck with empty mailers.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Gwinnett Stripers, affiliate of the Braves, will have an alternate jersey featuring the Declaration of Independence signature of county namesake Button Gwinnett (from Matt Lally). … Here’s a baseball field made of okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake (from Jeremy Brahm).

Football News: Was it really necessary for Iowa to include three Nike logos in this press release about supporting the Kentucky tornado victims? (From @VictoryCB)

Hockey News: New throwbacks for Bowling Green’s club team (from @Mr_Jeremy). … New mask for G Matteo Lalama of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts (from Wade Heidt). … From our own Jamie Rathjen: “A high school goalie in Minnesota has a mask whose design pays tribute to several people, including the Caps’ Tom Wilson. Wilson helped teach her the sport when she was a kid and he was playing for the OHL’s now-defunct Plymouth Whalers, whose logo is also on the mask.”

Basketball News: Warriors PG Steph Curry broke the all-time three-point record last night. Curry received a custom No. 2974 jersey to mark the occasion, plus his personal brand released a commemorative cap (from multiple readers). … Curry also posed a photo with fellow three-point kingpins Ray Allen and Reggie Miller. Oddly, Allen was holding a jersey from the Celtics’ 2007 preseason tour of Italy (from multiple readers). … Tom O’Grady envisioned what the Raptors would look like if they were an expansion team now instead of in 1995.

Soccer News: Blue vs. blue yesterday for Manchester City vs. Leeds (from Brian Holmsten).
 

Grab Bag: Lots of different purples for cricket’s Hobart Hurricanes of Australia’s Big Bash League (from John Muir).
 

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Tomorrow: The annual Uni Watch year-end raffle! See you back here for that. — Paul

Comments (44)

    The Gallagher brothers are on a plane right now flying across the Atlantic to make sure you correct that mistake.

    You wrote that last weekend’s featured five matchups from previous Super Bowls. I could only come up with two. Steelers-Vikings and 49ers-Bengals. What are the other three?

    Interesting that Paul likes the A’s flight menu, with that super huge sideways Nike swoosh overtaking the much-tinier A’s logo

    :-P

    Great blog post of SB rematches. One quibble, he left out the Bucs and listed Pats twice (v Bears, v Panthers). Not sure how to resolve as Bucs played Raiders and Chiefs in their 2 SB’s.

    Jared, those Super Bowl throwback rematches should be every time it comes around! Paul, the impact today from your “Dash For Cash” lede yesterday is what journalism is about.

    That’s a great idea, and perhaps I missed it somewhere, but it wouldn’t be feasible given the structure of the NFL schedule.
    For example, he has NFC West teams playing AFC North, South, and West opponents in these match ups. In any given year the NFC teams would only play one AFC division, and now with the 17th game they’d get another NFC division, playing one opponent from said division based on the previous seasons records.
    However, it would have made sense to do this the season of the 50th SB, and whatever SB rematches were on the schedule that year could have been played in the uniforms of the SB matchup.
    My idea would instead be for the NFL to have set Thanksgiving weekend rivalries that play every year, which would all need to be division rivalries, and use that weekend for throwback uniforms.

    Wishful thinking, but I’m hoping WFT Gets It right with their new identity and that they’re creative enough to design a helmet logo for occasional use which will harken-back to their SB wins as the ‘Skins. If that day never comes, I’d settle for the yellow pants to return to the rotation.

    Interesting story about that high-schooler and Tom Wilson.

    As someone who lives in Plymouth, I do miss having the Whalers here (though we got the USNTDP in their place, so there’s still hockey at that arena), but I have to say, their Edge-era unis were a massive downgrade from their use of the navy-era Hartford stripes. The white jersey was “simplified” to borrow the Blackhawks’ stripe pattern, while the blue and green jerseys had that awful vertical-piping template that teams like the Panthers and Oilers used. And the switch to Agency as their number and NOB font (copying the Canucks) was also disappointing.

    Meanwhile, the Seattle Thunderbirds over in the WHL kept both the navy Whalers striping and font intact when they switched to the Edge template.

    Oooh, I love midcentury menus! I have a small collection of original, beautifully decorated Matson Line menus (the steamer ships that had a monopoly on passenger travel to Hawaii before long-distance air travel) and my favorite details are the many things presented circa 1950 as luxuries that we today would regard as decidedly low-brow. Like the centerpiece of the cheese course, and this was supposed to be fancy food for rich people on a luxury ship, being Velveeta or Old English. Jello salads and canned ham and other foods we look down on today were then the height of sophistication.

    And absolutely nothing makes the case against the Tomahawks nickname better than a Tomahawks supporter punching a school board member.

    Fake outrage culture at it’s finest. Is it really worth getting that emotionally invested in a name? I guess he’ll find out when he gets sued. I also hope that wherever he works “cancels” his paycheck privileges.

    I often get upset with myself whenever I invoke stereotypes, but I had already envisioned the entire scene exactly as it played out before I had even glanced at the initial image. I’m not saying I’m correct. I’m just sayin’.

    Why should this person lose their job over being an asshat in public? It’s not like he was repping his employer by being there. The guy pushed him down so he retaliated. But I guess that’s the way of the world these days. Dox him, make him lose his job, send him death threats, etc.

    1) Actually, he was not “being an asshat” — he was committing assault. I’d say that might be grounds for termination, although it would ultimately be his employer’s call.

    2) Actually, he was not “pushed down.” All you have to do is watch the video to see that. Why would you post something so obviously, demonstrably false? Please don’t do that again on my website.

    3) Actually, nobody has doxed him or sent him death threats (at least as far as we know). Let’s please stick to reality instead of posting inflammatory exaggerations and distortions. Thanks.

    And he was not pushed down.
    I know a few conspiracy theorists that would claim that the “asshat” is actually controlled opposition.
    And how does one dox somebody when the perpetrator was that flagrant? This footage is obviously readily available to the masses.

    When you show up to a public meeting, you are voluntarily going on the record with your words or actions. So whatever happens to him as a result of this is not in retaliation to whatever he did/said as a private citizen out in public, but rather what he did in a public meeting where everything is on the record (even if they were in temporary recess). As someone who frequently is a part of public meetings, I can assure you there is a significant difference.
    And certainly he was guilty of escalating the entire confrontation, I am not sure how one could interpret it differently.

    For what’s it worth, here’s how I see it.

    Parent (aka asshat) invaded the personal space of the board member. Board member responded, correctly, in pushing off parent. Parent retaliated, incorrectly, with the punch.

    That’s five minutes for fighting, a ten minute misconduct, and a game misconduct for the Parent.

    Seriously, the Board member didn’t have to stand there while the Parent got into his face and the push off was a reasonable response. The punch was not.

    Yes, we are living in difficult times, but there’s no excuse for the Parent’s behavior. We need to be reminded that as adults, we can have our differences and even strong opinions, but we don’t need to resort to violence.

    More Ted Lasso, less Mean Streets.

    So the guy with his mask down below his mouth screaming directly into the face of another human being is the victim here? He should be charged for that, along with his tomahawk chop. Fuck him.

    Giants-Ravens was Super Bowl XXXV, not XXIII (I think it’s a typo carryover from the next one up, Bills-Cowboys)

    Some SB matchups I’d be interested in seeing from a uniform/historical perspective, rather than a way to maximize the total number of potential SB matchups (though in fairness, I was able to get to 10, not 11).

    Packers/Chiefs, 1st ever Supe and great looking teams
    Cowboys opponent HAS to be the Steelers
    Giants/Bills, with the missed FG
    Skins/Raiders, Marcus Allen’s famous run
    Bears/Pats, Fridge Perry
    Colts/Jets, the Guarantee
    49ers/Bengals, put SF in red though since that was the better game
    Vikings/Dolphins, always liked purple vs teal for some reason, and both of these teams were Supe staples in the early days that have had similar trajectories ever since.

    These matchups can also accommodate Falcons/Broncos and Rams/Titans, lemme know if I’m missing any.

    And throw Lions/Browns in there for good measure, as the article suggested. I’m guessing that were the NFL to ever do this and market it as such, that the Lions and Browns would take tremendous exception to being paired with each other, as the memes and negative press articles would write themselves. Still, if the Lions were to go throwbacks and the Browns went with white over orange, it would be one of the better looking games of the weekend. And the pre-Super Bowl history these two teams have with each other really is super fascinating.

    Rams/Browns 1950, 1951 and 1955 would be an NFL Championship redux/throwback that could be done (and could be a future Super Bowl). Browns will play at Rams in 2023.

    1950 – Rams Blue/Yellow/Yellow; Browns White/White/White
    1951 – Rams Blue/Yellow/White; Browns White/White/White
    1955 – Rams Blue/Yellow/White; Browns Orange/White/White.

    After a quick glance, looks like there are 6 SB rematches next season (Dolphins/Vikings, Patriots/Packers, Patriots/Bears, Colts/Cowboys, Broncos/49ers, Broncos/Seahawks) and 4 potential rematches depending on 2021 final standings (Jets/Colts, Ravens/Giants, Steelers/Cowboys, Chiefs/Bucs). As for AFL Championship rematches, looks like there are 5 next season (Chargers/Oilers, Raiders/Chiefs, Bills/Chiefs, Oilers/Chiefs, Raiders/Oilers) and 3 potential rematches depending on 2021 final standings (Chargers/Bills, Chargers/Patriots, Raiders/Jets). Finally, there is one AAFC championship rematch (Browns/49ers).

    I love the Super Bowl Weekend idea, very creative and doable.

    Using the same logic, I could get 14/15 World Series rematches:
    Brewers @ Cardinals (1982)
    Giants @ Angels (2002)
    Yankees @ D-backs (2001)
    Rockies @ Red Sox (2007)
    Astros @ Nationals (2019)
    Padres @ Tigers (1984)
    Phillies @ Blue Jays (1993)
    Guardians @ Marlins (1997)
    Mets @ Royals (2015)
    Braves @ Twins (1991)
    Cubs @ White Sox (1906)
    Orioles @ Pirates (1971/1979)
    A’s @ Reds (1972/1990)
    Rays @ Dodgers (2020)
    Mariners @ Rangers (N/A)

    The Mariners would be playing with…er…by themselves as they’ve never been to a World Series…

    The Rangers have never won a World Series so Marc’s theoretical matchup is the best we can do. I really like this idea too!

    Dammit, I now realize it could have been even better:

    Rangers @ Cardinals (2011 WS)
    Brewers @ Mariners (Complete with Pilots throwbacks)

    Nice work, Jared! But…
    “Just for this occasion, Houston should “rent” the Oilers’ visual identity from the Tennessee Titans for a day.”

    Even hypothetically I don’t like that idea but to make this awesome concept a reality, well…OK, I’m on board. Then it’s right back to Texans branding come Monday!

    Good call on the augmented-reality balloon release. Also, Joe Namath should be doing the coin toss in a faux-fur coat.

    Great article! But I kept finding it odd that the captions are above, not below, the corresponding photos. Kept throwing me off.

    The Gwinnett Stripers should permanently use the signature font on their jerseys – with or without the Button.

    My first reaction was that it’s interesting for Curry to have broken the record while wearing a throwback jersey, so that all future photos/videos of the moment will feature a uniform that isn’t the “right” jersey for this era of the Warriors. But is it interesting? Maybe the distinction between main and alternate NBA uniforms has fallen apart to the point that a future viewer wouldn’t notice anything unusual.

    I like the idea of a “Super Bowl Rematch Weekend”. Any reason to see the old SB logos is a good one! With the Super Bowl being hosted by Las Vegas in 2024 it’s a good time to bring back the local flavor logos they abandoned about 10 years ago.

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