7 Super Bowl Firsts That Made History And Changed The Big Game

Tom Brady's seventh Super Bowl appearance isn't the only first.

Let's face it, Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. Whether you love him or not, he sets the bar high when it comes to breaking pro football records. As of Sunday's big game, Brady will make NFL history as the first QB to ever play in seven Super Bowls. A win would mean his fifth Super Bowl victory, making him the winningest QB in the history of the championship showdown. Right now he's tied with NFL greats Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. 

Still, despite his good looks (and secrets to anti-aging), Brady is not the only "Super Bowl first" to go down in history. The game has produced some of the greatest firsts ever. So ahead of Super Bowl LI, when the Atlanta Falcons will face off against the New England Patriots, let's take a trip down memory lane to revisit the best of the firsts in the annual championship game.

From stellar players and talented coaches to traditions and unavoidable mishaps, the Super Bowl is one memorable event. 


Here are 7 Super Bowl firsts to get you amped for Sunday's game:

1. Doug Williams becomes first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl.

In 1988 at Super Bowl XXII, Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to not only start an NFL championship game but also to win it. The Washington QB did it in style, winning Super Bowl MVP after passing for a then-Super Bowl record of 340 yards, resulting in four touchdowns to defeat the Denver Broncos 42-10.

2. The first televised Gatorade shower at the Super Bowl.

The NFL is filled with traditions, but one novel celebration to cap every championship win is the famous Gatorade shower. It was first seen in 1987 during the Super Bowl when New York Giants linebacker, Harry Carson, disguised in a security guard's jacket, dumped the huge cooler of Gatorade on coach Bill Parcells in celebration of New York's 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XXI.  

3. Joe Namath makes the first "guarantee" to win a Super Bowl — and delivers.

Now let's go back ... way back to 1969 for Super Bowl III, when New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath became the first player to ever "guarantee" a win before the Sunday night match. His unapologetic confidence was met with widespread ridicule and a scolding from his coach, Weeb Ewbank, who "believed it, too, but he wanted to quietly go in and get the trophy." And they did, beating the Baltimore Colts 16-7.

4. The first Super Bowl — the "Ice Bowl."

There's been many Super Bowls played in freezing temperatures, but the stands are still filled to capacity with roaring fans. But there was never a game quite like this one, where temperatures got as low as 15 degrees … below zero! In fact, it was the first-ever AFL-NFL world championship, later coined the Super Bowl, but also known as the "Ice Bowl."  

The 1967 game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs left players and staff hurt in new kinds of ways. Referee Norm Schacter ended up with a bloody lip after he ripped off the metal whistle that froze to it when he was making a call. This led to the refs just yelling out calls for the rest of the game.

While the Packers were victorious it was at a big price for players like Green Bay's Ray Nitschke, who suffered frostbite on his toes and several fingers after the win. To this day, this still goes down as the coldest game in NFL history.

5. Tony Dungy becomes first Black coach to win the Super Bowl.

It's hard to believe that it was 2007 when this finally happened, but up until then, there hadn't been an African-American coach who had won the Super Bowl. That is, until Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy changed that. But the icing on the cake of the 29-17 win against the Chicago Bears was that Dungy's close friend and protégé, Lovie Smith, was the opposing team's head coach, and together, they were the first Black head coaches in the 41-year history of the Super Bowl.  

6. Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett become first Latino player-coach powerhouse duo.

Jim Plunkett (left) shakes hands with Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil (right) after Super Bowl XV in 1981.

Latino powerhouses descended on the NFL, making history! Tom Flores was the NFL's first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl, for the Oakland Raiders, and he did it with Jim Plunkett, who became the first Latino to garner Super Bowl MVP honors. The Mexican-American duo won two Super Bowls together — once was in Super Bowl XV against the Philadelphia Eagles, and again three years later in Super Bowl XVIII for the then-Los Angeles Raiders win over Washington.

7. Mike Ditka becomes first person to win the Super Bowl as a player and a coach.

In 1986, Mike Ditka made history by becoming the first person ever to win the Super Bowl in two different roles — first as a Dallas Cowboys player in 1972, and then as the head coach for the Chicago Bears in 1986. Under Ditka's leadership, the Bears laid down a crushing 46-10 defeat against the New England Patriots. But the team was already pretty confident about their skills. 

One month before Ditka's history-making Super Bowl, his players released the first rap music video predicting the game's outcome. "Super Bowl Shuffle" featured the Bears dancing and rhyming about beating the Patriots. And they sure did — scoring a BillboardHot 100 hit in the process.

Cover image: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock, Inc.

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