It was about 40 years after the NFL successfully fended off several rival leagues. In 1960, it faced its most serious competitor when the American Football League (AFL) was formed. The AFL vied heavily with the NFL for both players and fans, but by the middle of the decade the strain of competition led to serious merger talks between the two leagues. Prior to the 1966 season, the NFL and AFL reached a merger agreement that was to take effect for the season in 1970 As part of the merger, the champions of the two leagues agreed to meet in a "world" championship game for professional American football until the merger was effected.
The first used of the term "Super Bowl" was by Lamar Hunt . Hunt would later say the name was likely in his head because his children had been playing with a toy (a vintage example of the ball is on display at the Pro Football Hall of fame in Canton, Ohio). In a July 25, 1966, letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Hunt wrote, "I have kiddingly called it the 'Super Bowl,' which obviously can be improved upon." Although the leagues' owners decided on the name "AFL-NFL Championship Game," the media immediately picked up on Hunt's "Super Bowl" name, which would become official beginning with the third annual game. The "Super Bowl" name was derived from the bowl game a post-season college football game. The original bowl game was the Rose bowl game in Pasadena CA. which was first played in 1902 as the Tournament East-West football game. The stadium got its name from the fact that the game played there was part of the Tournament of Roses and that it was shaped like a bowl, the Tournament of Roses football game itself eventually came to be known as the Rose Bowl Game. Exploiting the Rose Bowl Game's popularity, post-season college football contests were created for Miami the orange bowl and New Orleans the sugar bowl in 1935, and for Dallas the cotton bowl in 1937. Thus, by the time the first Super Bowl was played, the term "bowl" for any big-time American football game was well established.
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