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NFL to ditch Roman numerals for Super Bowl 50

The NFL to lose the roman numerals for Super Bowl 50.
Source: NFL
The NFL to lose the roman numerals for Super Bowl 50.

Roman numerals will be taking a yearlong break from the Super Bowl.

Due to concerns over using a sole "L" for the 50th Super Bowl logo, the 2016 NFL championship will be known as Super Bowl 50. The league has used a Roman numeral to denote every title game since Super Bowl V.

The news was first reported by ESPN's Darren Rovell.

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The change will only be temporary, however. Starting in 2017, Roman numerals are back for Super Bowl LI.

Foregoing the use of Super Bowl L drew some early criticism that the league was dumbing things down for America, as if clinging to an archaic counting system that was obviously created without any foresight means we're a nation of dunces. That's nonsense. Roman numerals are like cursive: meaningless in the real world and not as pretty to look at as people think.

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I'll admit the NFL is in a tough position. Because the playoffs occur in a different calendar year than the regular season, the league can't have the Super Bowl identified by year, like the NBA Finals or World Series. It'd be too confusing. (For example, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014 but are the champions of the 2013 season. It's easier to say the team won Super Bowl XLVIII. Actually, it's easier to say Super Bowl 48, but whatever.) Counting Super Bowls chronologically was the best way to deal with that problem.

But who says it has to be Roman numerals? They're antiquated, awkward and unwieldy. Foregoing the "L" was an easy call. Why go back though? Make a clean break there. Things might look good for the next eight years, but then we hit Super Bowl LIX, which is ridiculous. Decades later, they'll get to Super Bowl LXXXVIII which won't fit on a T-shirt and Super Bowl XCIV, which sounds like a military spying operation.

Super Bowl L was the perfect time to ditch the numerals, but the NFL blinked and now we're stuck with them forever.

—By Chris Chase for USA Today

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