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Originally published Friday, January 24, 2014 at 9:52 PM

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Editor’s note: Jack Broom, who covers the 12th Man beat, will be in New York and New Jersey covering the fans’ Super Bowl experience.

High V: Why Super Bowls are a game of (Roman) numerals

Here’s a high V to the farsighted soul who, decades ago, decided that Super Bowls should forever be designated by Roman numerals.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Seahawks send-off

The Seahawks are leaving for New Jersey on Sunday morning, and fans can wish the team well as the players head by bus to the airport.

Fans are invited to line the 1.1-mile route on South 188th Street starting at 46th Avenue South toward 28th Avenue South in the city of SeaTac as the buses pass at 10:30 a.m.

Carpooling is encouraged. Parking is available at the Tyee Educational Complex, Chinook Middle School, Bow Lake Elementary School, SeaTac City Hall, Angle Lake Park or the Sea-Tac Airport paid parking lot.

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“II, IV, VI, VIII, who do we appreciate?”

To be grammatically correct, that classic cheerleaders’ call should have asked “whom” do we appreciate.

But setting that aside, I appreciate the farsighted soul who, decades ago, decided that Super Bowls should forever be designated by Roman numerals.

This is not Super Bowl 48 the Seattle Seahawks are preparing for. Nor is it the 2014 Super Bowl.

It is Super Bowl XLVIII.

News and historical accounts credit the late Lamar Hunt, legendary owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, who sought to pump a sense of prestige and permanence into pro football’s greatest game.

Oddly enough, as Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports notes, the move wasn’t made until the fifth Super Bowl, which became Super Bowl V, and the four earlier title games were then retroactively renamed.

I applaud Hunt’s sense of showmanship.

Roman numerals, though they can be bulky and hard to understand, are dignified. They are eternal. They are chiseled in stone above courthouse entrances.

Linked to the Super Bowl, they hint at the gladiator atmosphere.

Properly displayed, Roman numerals have serifs and hard angles. They are unyielding.

Of course, not all Roman numerals are created equal.

The title of this year’s game, Super Bowl XLVIII, looks classic enough, but pity the poor people of Santa Clara, Calif. In two years, they will be hosting Super Bowl L. What the ‘L’ kind of a name is that? Is it large? Is it elevated? It sounds so dull that one columnist has predicted it might prompt the NFL to ditch the whole Roman-numeral habit: put it VI feet under, so to speak.

I hope not.

The Seahawks’ only other Super Bowl appearance was in Super Bowl XL, where they were unable to come up with the extra-large performance needed to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, who prevailed by a score of XXI to X.

This year, I believe the Seahawks are ready.

I was at CenturyLink Field last weekend when they bested the San Francisco XLIXers.

I know Marshawn Lynch can bust through the line for a XXX-yard gain. I’ve seen the way Richard Sherman can leap up and tip away a pass while it’s still X feet in the air.

Yes, the Hawks got off to a slow start in that game, but they learned from it. In New Jersey, I expect them to play IV tough quarters.

Seahawks players and fans are ready to settle this thing right now. The hard part will be waiting VIII more days for the Feb. 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos.

In the meantime, all this numeral-crunching has worked up a powerful thirst, putting me in the mood for a XVI-ounce beer, or maybe a shot of LXXX-proof whiskey.

But wait. I’ve got to stay sober for the task at hand. Bartender, how about another VII-Up?

Jack Broom: jbroom@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2222



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