Dallas Cowboys aim to bust Super Bowl host jinx
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:53am
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Super Bowl used to be a simple enough event that NFL owners could decide in the spring where to put next season's championship game.
It was that way in 1971, when the Dallas Cowboys showed up to the league meetings hoping to lure the game to their new state-of-the-art stadium.
Then Oakland's Al Davis reminded his AFC peers that Dallas had just played in the Super Bowl. Giving them the next Super Bowl, he warned, could mean sending one of their teams to Texas Stadium for the title game. That spurred a push for Miami, which had hosted three of the first five Super Bowls.
On the 12th vote, Dallas was still ahead, but not by enough to seal it. So owners gave up and went with New Orleans. Guess which teams wound up meeting there? Yep, the Cowboys and Dolphins.
Nearly 40 years later, that's still about as close as any team has come to playing a Super Bowl on its home field.
Call it a Super Bowl jinx or call it a fluke. The bottom line is the same: 37 Super Bowls have been held in an NFL stadium and never has the home team been involved.
The next championship is being held at Cowboys Stadium, and Jerry Jones has made no secret of wanting his 'boys to break the streak. With their season kicking off Sunday night in Washington, here are some details of how much history they're up against:
- Only five would-be Super Bowl hosts have even made the playoffs. The 1994 Miami Dolphins were the only division winners; the rest (the Dolphins in '70, '78 and '98; and Tampa Bay in 2000) got in as wild cards.
- That handful of hosts has won just two playoff games, one each by the '94 and '98 Dolphins.
- Because both wins came in the wild-card round and were followed by losses, no host has even reached the league championship game.
"Hmmmm," Jones said. "Goodness."
Jones didn't realize the numbers were so ugly, but he has several explanations to take the edge off the 0-for-37. (Of the 44 Super Bowl, seven were played in NFL markets, but not NFL stadiums.)
Jones noted the teams that have played in the most Super Bowls - Dallas, Pittsburgh, New England and Denver - haven't been eligible to host because they have cold weather and outdoor stadiums. Texas Stadium came close in '71 because it hadn't opened and folks were told the partial roof would keep out the elements more than it really did. Once the myth was exposed, the Cowboys never had a chance until building the new stadium with a real roof.)
Then there's the reverse of that theory - Super Bowl sites are warm-weather cities or domed stadium, and those kinds of teams do not routinely play for the championship. Various clubs make it now and again, but they haven't been fortunate enough to match the years they dominate with the years they host.
"Luck of the draw," said Dick Anderson, a starting safety in three Super Bowls with the Dolphins in the 1970s and head of Miami's host committee for the game following the 1988 season.
He's also has been to the last 19 Super Bowls as part of the Taste of the NFL fundraiser, so he comes to this topic with plenty of experience. And with a good point: Only two of 32 teams play in the Super Bowl, and only one of 32 can host. Getting those to overlap should be rare.
"Sooner or later, it may happen," he said.
There's another tidbit that fuels the jinx theory, and that's what happened in those seven Super Bowls played at non-NFL stadiums.
Twice, the local club made it: the Los Angeles Rams, who lost to the Steelers at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in the game following the 1979 season; and the San Francisco 49ers, who beat the Dolphins to cap the '84 season at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.
Notice how the Dolphins keep coming up? Well, they should.
Miami has hosted the championship 10 times, most of all clubs. The Dolphins also have played in the game five times, trailing only the quartet of cold-weather sites mentioned previously. They are tied with the 49ers, Raiders and Redskins for fifth-most appearances in league history.
Timing is everything, though, and they just haven't had it.
Miami hosted Super Bowls following the 1967, '68, '70 and '75 seasons, and the Bob Griese-led clubs played in Super Bowls following the '71, '72 and '73 seasons.
"Bookends," Anderson said, laughing.
David Woodley guided the Dolphins back in '82, then Dan Marino in '84. Alas, Miami was in its midst of its longest gap between host stints (1978-88).
The second-most popular site is New Orleans, with nine.
New Orleans was the easy compromise candidate in '71 not because of Bourbon Street, but because the Saints were so lousy that everyone knew they wouldn't be contenders. They were doormats most every year before winning it all last season. They're also a big reason those 37 host teams are a combined 240-327-4, just a .424 winning percentage.
The 2010 Cowboys are the ninth team going into their Super Bowl host year coming off a trip to the playoffs. They are the rare host team going into the season with realistic Super Bowl dreams.
Roger Staubach is certainly hoping they pull it off.
Staubach was part of four Super Bowl teams for the Cowboys, winning twice. He was the MVP of that game at New Orleans, which also was Dallas' first Super Bowl title. Now he's the chairman of the committee overseeing the upcoming Super Bowl.
He thinks it would be a great claim to fame for the 45th edition if this was the jinx buster. He laughs off the notion that a hometown team would lessen the economic impact, counting on the wide appeal of "America's Team" to more than make up for it.
"I think it would add to the excitement, make it more fun," he said.
And, he added, "We want to have the NFC championship game here, too."