There are 18 weeks of action and then three rounds of playoff games to decide which two teams will compete in the Super Bowl.
Except if you’re willing to suspend all rational thought and subscribe to an online theory that’s in vogue that the two teams who could be traveling to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII might have been decided before the season even began.
Social media is abuzz with suggestions that the logo used to promote the Super Bowl each year includes the colors of the two teams who will play in the season’s showpiece finale.
Between the NFL humorously suggesting before the 2023 season that the games are “scripted” and this outlandish new conjecture, it’s certainly generated a host of memes.
What is the Super Bowl logo theory?
The Super Bowl logo’s color scheme, which is released prior to the start of every season – and designed up to two years in advance, according to the NFL – changes yearly and recently has included two main colors.
And in the previous two seasons, the color schemes have just so happened to correspond to the two sides competing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
For Super Bowl LVI two years ago, the colors on the logo were dark orange and yellow which partly reflected the two teams who contested it – the Los Angeles Rams, who feature yellow accents on their uniform, beat the Cincinnati Bengals, whose color scheme is orange and black.
Similarly for Super Bowl LVII last season, the logo’s design was green and red. And the Philadelphia Eagles (green) and the Kansas City Chiefs (red) were the two teams who made it to the championship game.
For this season’s Super Bowl – LVIII which will be played in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 11 – the logo is purple and red.
That color combination has led people to predict the two teams who will make it to the NFL’s showpiece occasion, with some suggesting as far back as November that Las Vegas will host a showdown between the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers showdown.
And as it happens, that “script” could still play out given the Ravens play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game before the 49ers host the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.
But the NFL told CNN that each logo is designed with a “central theme.”
For Super Bowl LVI, it was inspired by “blockbuster movie making” with the game being played in Los Angeles. Since Super Bowl LVII was being played in Phoenix, Arizona, the color scheme is meant to reflect the desert sky and the red mesas.
For this year’s game in Las Vegas, the logo was themed around “the feeling of modern royalty,” the NFL told CNN Sport. “Purple is a color tied to royalty throughout history, and made perfect sense as one of our anchor colors for this year’s look.”
In recent years, a prevalent, but unfounded, discussion among US sports fans is the idea of a “script” being handed to teams and players which dictates how the season will play out.
That first appeared in the NBA but has subsequently seeped into the NFL. The first to do so was former running back Arian Foster who said on a podcast in January 2023 that he would get a script from the NFL dropped off at his locker during training camp.
Ahead of the current season, even the NFL leaned into the idea for fun.
In an advert released in August, some of the league’s leading stars – including Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Ramsey, Justin Fields and Ja’Marr Chase – gathered to read through this season’s “script” in something akin to what actors do before filming a television show or movie.
All the players are described as “actors” in the commercial which is spearheaded by comedian Keegan-Michael Key.
Benefits of color?
In truth, a logo theory, or “script,” plays no part in a team’s success.
However, for the 49ers, their iconic red, gold and white color scheme might actually play a part in their success.
According to an article titled “Winners wear red: How colour twists your mind” by Daniel Elkan, having red in your uniform could have an impact on your success in sports.
Elkan cites a number of studies across multiple sports which suggest that teams and athletes who have red in their kits are more successful in their chosen field.
According to Robert Barton – who alongside fellow anthropologist Russell Hill published a study which looked at the influence of red in Olympic combat sports ahead of the 2004 Olympics in Athens – competitors in that color did marginally better.
“There is now good experimental evidence that red stimuli are perceived as dominant and that they cause negative effects on performance in those viewing them,” Barton said.
“It is plausible that wearing red also makes individuals feel more confident, although this hasn’t yet been tested.”
The 49ers are one of the NFL’s few teams who wear predominately red strips – the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all wear uniforms where red is the main color. Those five teams have combined to win 10 Super Bowls between them.
And with the Chiefs in the other conference, we could have a red vs. red matchup in Super Bowl LVIII.
However, even if the Ravens and 49ers eventually meet in Las Vegas on February 11, they will be there fighting for a Super Bowl ring because they deserve to, a sentiment the NFL echoes: “The Super Bowl matchup will be decided on the field this weekend, not InDesign.”
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