The Super Bowl Curse is a phrase referring to three types: Super Bowl participants that follow up with lower-than-expected performance the following year; teams that do not repeat as World Champions; and host teams of the Super Bowl that do not play the game on their own home turf.

Also called a Super Bowl hangover, it has been used, for example, to explain both why losing teams may post below-average winning percentages in the following year and why Super Bowl champions seldom return to the Super Bowl the following year. The term has been used since at least 1992, when The Washington Post commented that "[t]he Super Bowl Curse has thrown everything it's got at the Washington Redskins. The Jinx that has bedeviled defending champs for 15 years has never been in better form".[1] The phenomenon is attributed by football commentator and former NFL manager Charley Casserly to such elements as "a shorter offseason, contract issues, [and] more demand for your players' time".[2] Casserly also notes that "once the season starts, you become the biggest game on everybody's schedule."[2] The curse comes in many forms.

There are three types of the Super Bowl Curse:

The Winners' CurseEdit

While the first five Super Bowl winners of the 2000s posted above average winning percentages the year following their Super Bowl appearance, the losers of the same games posted below average winning percentages in the follow-up year.[3] The Super Bowl curse is also said to apply to winners of the game, as since 1993 few winning teams have followed up their Super Bowl successes with a second Super Bowl appearance (Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots won; Green Bay Packers lost) or even advanced to a conference title game in the subsequent season (Dallas Cowboys). In the Super Bowl era two teams have lost the Super Bowl, then won it the following season. The first was the Dallas Cowboys, who lost Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts, but came back in 1971 and defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. The Dolphins repeated the feat in 1972 when they rallied to go a perfect 17-0, capping the season with a win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

Losing teams mentioned in connection to the curseEdit

Super Bowl losing teams who went on to poor follow-up performance include:[3]


There have been several exceptions since this curse supposedly began in 1977.

  • New England Patriots. (Super Bowl XLII). 2007 season: 16-0. After having the first perfect season in the 16-game schedule, in the 2008 season they went 11-5 and missed the playoffs barely by losing tiebreakers with Miami in their division and Baltimore for the wild card. The "Super Bowl curse" took a different road, since their starting quarterback, Tom Brady, suffered a season ending injury in the opening game of the season.
  • Indianapolis Colts. (Super Bowl XLIV). 2009 season: 14-2. In the 2010 season they went 10-6 and won the AFC South for the seventh time in eight years, however it was the first time in 9 years that the Colts had finished a season with less than 12 wins. They lost in the wild card playoffs to the New York Jets. The following season however, without Peyton Manning, they did experience a significant drop. They started the season 0-13, and finished 2-14, the first time out of the playoffs since 2001.

The Non-Repeat CurseEdit

This type of the curse has affected defending Super Bowl Champions since 2005. Only the 2004 New England Patriots and six other teams have ever made back-to-back visits to the Super Bowl.

Considering the difficulty of winning one Super Bowl in a 32-team league, some wouldn't consider this to be a curse, but rather a difficult feat.

The Home Field CurseEdit

The third type of the curse is one that affects the host team of the Super Bowl. No team has ever played the big game in its own home stadium. The closest have been the San Francisco 49ers who played Super Bowl XIX in Stanford Stadium, rather than Candlestick Park, and the Los Angeles Rams who played Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl, rather than the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Besides those two, the only other Super Bowl venue that was not the home stadium to an NFL team at the time was Rice Stadium in Houston: the Houston Oilers had played there previously, but moved to the Astrodome several years prior to Super Bowl VIII. The Orange Bowl was the only AFL stadium to host a Super Bowl and the only stadium to host consecutive Super Bowls, hosting Super Bowl II and III. MetLife Stadium, which is scheduled to host Super Bowl XLVIII, is the home stadium of two NFL teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

The Indianapolis Colts were in a rare, but not unprecedented, situation at the end of the 2011 season, becoming the fourth host team of a Super Bowl to have the worst record in the NFL for their particular season. This also happened to the 1973 Houston Oilers (Super Bowl VIII), the 1980 New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl XV), and the 1983 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl XVIII).

The New Orleans Saints, whose home stadium the Mercedes-Benz Superdome hosted Super Bowl XLVII, were affected heavily by the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal as their Head Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 NFL Season due to the implications against them and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Some media outlets such as Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated have claimed that the Home Field Curse was in effect there. However, many fans, local and otherwise blame the bounty scandal on Commissioner Roger Goodell. The end result to their season was their elimination from post-season contention in Week 16.

Generally, the host team of a Super Bowl has a VIP section in the stadium during the game.

The last Super Bowl host to make the playoffs is the 2000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since then, the hosts of the next 12 Super Bowls have failed to make the playoffs.

From 1966-2011, excluding the 6 Super Bowls held in a stadium without a professional team, the Super Bowl host team had a record of 249-364-2. In those 40 years, the host teams had 11 winning seasons, 4 split seasons, and 25 losing seasons. Mathematically, the probability of that many losing seasons or more occurring by chance (given the variable length of NFL regular seasons and assuming a long-term average probability of winning any one game of .5) is 0.35%. The probability of the combined win/loss record is 0.0002%.

Further readingEdit

  • "Credit Belichick for beating Super Bowl curse". The Sacramento Bee: pp. C3. October 25, 2006.
  • Freeman, Mike (December 12, 1991). "Fans cry: Off with Giants' Head (Coach)!". The Washington Post.
  • Green Jr., Ron (November 5, 2004). "Lost-the-Super-Bowl blues afflict Panthers, Raiders". The Charlotte Observer: pp. 2C.
  • "Less and more than rumored Miami and the Super Bowl curse". Sarasota Herald Tribune. January 30, 1999.
  • Penner, Mike (August 27, 2006). "Curses are reality to fantasy leaguers". Los Angeles Times: pp. D.2.


  1. Boswell, Thomas. (September 21, 1992) "A Curse but not yet a sin" (article sample at The Washington Post.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gruber, Jack. (February 6, 2007). The Buffalo Bills are not affected in 1993. Even though they lost to the Dallas Cowboys, They again made it to the Super Bowl, but lost again. Champions, for now — Super Bowl curse could vex Colts, Bears. USA Today. Retrieved 19/04/08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Simpson, Matt. (September 17, 2006) Seattle out to break Super Bowl curse. "Tribune". Retrieved 19/04/08.
  4. Ken Belson (February 1, 2010). "Is the Super Bowl curse real? Just ask Brady, Alexander and others".

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