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Super Bowl LV: What's the 'LV' and why use Roman numerals, anyway?

To clear up any confusion, the NFL might have made things confusing.
Credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
Raymond James Stadium, the site of NFL football Super Bowl LV, is shown Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.

TAMPA, Fla. — This is a no-judgment zone: It's OK if you've had to Google the "LV" in Super Bowl LV a couple of times already. Or maybe you did a few years ago when Super Bowl XLVIII was played. 

Would you know what number is associated with Super Bowl XXXIX?

Roman numerals and the Super Bowl have been associated with each other for the longest time, but it wasn't always that way. So why use Roman numerals?

The NFL spells it out in its media guide for Super Bowl XL (that's 40):

"The Roman numerals were adopted to clarify any confusion that may occur because the NFL Championship Game—the Super Bowl—is played in the year following a chronologically recorded season. Numerals I through IV were added later for the first four Super Bowls."

Whoever wins Super Bowl LV, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Kansas City Chief, they'll be named champions of the 2020 NFL season. But since the big game is being played in 2021, it makes sense to slap a Roman numeral on it instead.

And for that last bit: The league retroactively added Roman numerals to the first, second, third and fourth Super Bowls. Super Bowl V was the first modern-era NFL championship game between the American Football Conference champion and the National Football Conference champion.

Super Bowl LV isn't too bad to figure out this year, anyway, with the "L" symbol representing "50" and "V" meaning "5."

There was one year in which the NFL ditched Roman numerals, instead opting for the Arabic numerals "5" and "0" -- Super Bowl 50 (not "L"). Perhaps, for the 100th game, we'll have Super Bowl C.

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