Is hosting a Super Bowl a Curse?

When I think of curses in the sports world, a few come to mind:

The Curse of the Bambino; the “Selling” of Babe Ruth to the Yankees resulting in an 86 year non-championship slide for the Boston Red Sox, while the Yankees went on to win 26 of them during the drought.

The Par 3 curse; The Masters at Augusta begins with an annual 3-par competition. No winner of the informal tournament has gone on to win the main tournament in the same year.

The Bobby Lane curse; in 1958 the Detroit Lions traded Lane to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was outraged by the trade and went on to say the Lions “Would not win for 50 years”.  During those 50 years the Lions accumulated the lowest winning percentage of any team in the NFL, posting a 1-9 playoff record and on the 50th year, the Lions recorded the NFL’s lone Zero-win season.

And of course, the Madden Curse; since 1999 the Madden NFL video games have featured an NFL player on the front cover. Most of those players have tended to suffer setbacks, injuries, or bad seasons immediately after appearing on the cover.

The JW Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis during Super Bowl festivities

This morning, a good friend of mine asked me about another curse in the NFL, one that I’ve never heard of, and have never really thought of until now. He is a Colts fan and his statement to me was “Don’t you think there is some sort of curse on NFL cities that host the Super Bowl?” I responded with “Just because the Colts had a bad year doesn’t mean it’s cursed!” But I got to thinking, maybe he is right. So I went to my bible (www.pro-football-reference.com) and did some research on cities that hosted the game, and how the teams associated with the city panned out that year. I didn’t go by team stadium, because early on in Super Bowl history, there were times the game was played in a stadium that an NFL franchise didn’t play in.

I was shocked to see that only eleven of 49 teams made the playoffs (49 because the Rams and Raiders played in Los Angeles when the Super Bowl was played nearby) and of those eleven teams only five of them won their respective divisions. Six out of eleven entered the playoffs as wildcards, and 30 of the 49 have ended the season with losing records. So knowing that in NFL history, no team whose city hosts the game has played in the Super Bowl, the research shows that roughly only one out of five teams even make the playoffs the year they host it.

Take into account that out of 46 Super Bowls, ten of them have been played in the Miami area, ten of them have been played in New Orleans and seven have been played in the Tampa Bay area. So, the Dolphins, Saints and Buccaneers have all had 27 combined chances of playing in the Super Bowl in their cities, yet have failed to do so. The two most recent cities have been teams that have definitely had chances to go, with the Cowboys hosting the big game in the Palace of Jerry; they finished their season 6-10 and could only dream of playing in it. The Colts entered the season, like every other, as a team that had very good chances of playing, but as fate has it, star QB and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning was unable to play all year and the Colts ended up with a 2-14 record, the second worst record of Super-Bowl-Hosting history. Only the 1973 Houston Oilers had a worse record (1-13) when its city hosted.

So is having your city host the big game a curse, or just coincidence? This we know, the next three Super Bowls are being hosted by the Saints, Jets/Giants and Cardinals. We’ll see how it all plays out!

Follow me on Twitter! @NFLGuy_SK

 





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