The Curse of Being a Super Bowl Host City

By Daniel Hutchinson
January 15, 2012 12:09 am
2,223 Views 1 Comment
Most people know of the Madden curse, that a player who makes the cover of the Madden NFL game does poorly in the following season. However, there is far worse curse, which fewer may know about, the Super Bowl host city curse.

No NFL team has ever played in the Super Bowl, in a year in which their home stadium was hosting the game. In fact, only five teams even made the playoffs, in years their stadium was hosting the Super Bowl. This article examines how the curse has affected different teams over the years.

Super Bowls 46-42
Although not played yet, Super Bowl XLVI will take place in Indianapolis, IN and the Indianapolis Colts definitely will not be playing. After going 10-6 last season and losing to the New York Jets in the playoffs, a neck injury sidelined star quarterback Peyton Manning, and the team fell to 2-14.

The host city for Super Bowl XLV was Dallas, Texas. After owner Jerry Jones got a new building built and promised Dallas would be the first true home team in the Super Bowl, the team finished the season, 5-11. Additionally, the season saw star quarterback Tony Romo miss most of the season with a broken collarbone, and the firing of head coach Wade Phillips, mid-way through the season. 

Miami, Florida was the host city of Super Bowl XLIV. Despite finishing 11-5 and winning the AFC East division in 2008, the team went 7-9 in 2009. Additionally, during the 2009 season, starting quarterback Chad Pennington was lost for the season after a shoulder injury.

Tampa Bay, Florida was the host city of Super Bowl XLIII. Despite starting the season 9-3, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost their last four games, giving up 30 or more points in three of those last four games. While 9-7 was a winning record, Tampa failed to make the playoffs, and Jon Gruden lost his job as head coach.

Sunny Arizona was the site of Super Bowl XLII. Arizona’s quarterback Matt Leinart was 1-1 to start the 2007, but lost the starting job to Kurt Warner in a week three matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. The team finished the season with an 8-8 record and failed to make the playoffs.

Super Bowls 41-36
Miami, FL was the host city for Super Bowl XLI. In the 2006 season, Miami used a combination of three different quarterbacks, and at one point had a four game winning streak, yet the team finished the season 6-10, not making the playoffs.

Detroit, MI, home of the Detroit Lions was the site of Super Bowl XL. Detroit who is dealing with a personal curse of their own, used a combination of two different quarterbacks throughout the season, and finished the season 5-11, not making the playoffs.

Jacksonville, FL, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was the site of Super Bowl XXXIX. Jacksonville despite posting one of their better regular season records, 9-7, still failed to make the playoffs.

Houston, TX and the newly built Reliant Stadium was the site of Super Bowl XXXVIII. Houston who did not win a playoff game until this season, went 5-11 during the 2003 regular season, and did not make the playoffs.

San Diego, CA was the host city of Super Bowl XXXVII. Despite winning six of their first seven games, after the bye week, San Diego went a pitiful 2-7 to finish the season, 8-8, and not making the playoffs.

New Orleans, LA and the Superdome was the host city for Super Bowl XXXVI. The New Orleans Saints finished the season with a 2-5 record and finished with an 8-8 record, not making the playoffs.

Super Bowls 35-29
This period saw three teams make the playoffs in years their home stadium was hosting the Super Bowl, with the most recent being Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay was the host city of Super Bowl XXXV. Tampa Bay finished the season with a record of 10-6. That record was good enough to play in the wild card round of the playoffs, however, Tampa Bay lost in the wild card round to the Philadelphia Eagles, 21-3.

Atlanta, GA was the home of Super Bowl XXXIV. However, the Atlanta Falcons only managed to win five games during the 1999 regular season, and did not make the playoffs.

Super Bowl XXXIII was played in Miami, FL. In the 1998 season, the Miami Dolphins managed to post a 10-6 record and make it into the playoffs. In the wild card round, Miami defeated AFC East rival, Buffalo Bills, but were unable to score a touchdown in the divisional round and lost to the Denver Broncos, 38-3.

Super Bowl XXXII took place in San Diego, CA, Super Bowl XXXI happened in New Orleans, and Super Bowl XXX took place in Arizona. The San Diego Chargers, the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals,  in the year the Super Bowl was in their city posted records of 4-12, 3-13, and 4-12, respectively. Needless to say, none of those three teams made the playoffs.

Super Bowl XXIX took place in Miami, FL. In the 1994 regular season, the Miami Dolphins finished with a 10-6 record, winning the AFC East division. However, as in the 1998 season, Miami won the in the wild card round, but lost in the divisional round, ending any hopes to play at home in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowls 28, 26-22
Super Bowl XXVIII took place in Atlanta, GA, however the 1993 Atlanta Falcons managed a 6-10 record. Super Bowl XXVI took place in the dome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, however the 1991 Minnesota Vikings only managed an 8-8 season record.

Super Bowl XXV took place in sunny Tampa, FL, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not make the playoffs, posting a 6-10 record. Super Bowl XXIV took place in the Superdome in New Orleans, LA. While the 1989 Saints posted a 9-7 record, it was not enough to make the playoffs.

Super Bowl XXIII, took place in familiar Miami, FL. However, Miami was not as successful in 1988 as in other seasons, posting a 6-10 record, and missing the playoffs. Super Bowl  XXII was played in San Diego, CA, but the 1987 San Diego Chargers, posted a 8-7 record, also missing the playoffs.

Super Bowls 20, 18, 16, 15
Both Super Bowls XX and XV took place in New Orleans, LA, however the 1985 New Orleans Saints and the 1980 New Orleans Saints combined for an 6-26 record, missing the playoffs in both of those seasons. Super Bowl XVIII took place in Tampa, FL, and the 1983 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, won two games, meaning they lost fourteen. Super Bowl XVI took place in Detroit, MI, and the Detroit Lions missed the playoffs with an 8-8 regular season record.

Super Bowls 13-12, 10-9, 7-1
This period of Super Bowls saw the big game being played in Miami five times, (XIII, X, V, III, II). During the 1978 season, the Miami Dolphins finished the season with an 11-5 record, making the playoffs, but lost in the wild card round. During the 1970 regular season, Miami finished the season with an 10-4 record, but lost in the divisional rounds of the playoffs. Miami finished with a regular season record of 29-32-1, in the other three years when the Super Bowl was in Miami.

The period of Super Bowls saw four Super Bowls being played in New Orleans, LA. In the four seasons where New Orleans was the host city, New Orleans finished with an overall record of 17-37-2. Super Bowls VII and I both took place in Los Angeles. In the two associated seasons, the L.A. Rams finished with a record of 14-13-1.

Teams and owners fight tooth and nail to receive the “honor” of hosting the Super Bowl in their stadium. However, after looking at the evidence, being the host city for the Super Bowl seems to guarantee a doomed season.

*Note: Super Bowls XXVII, XXI, XIX, XVII, XIV, XI, VIII, were all played in stadiums that did not serve as a home stadium for an NFL team. San Francisco’s Super Bowl XIX win in Stanford Stadium, was the closest  to being a true home team in a Super Bowl.

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