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We Must Stop The Phrase “Super Wild Card Weekend” Before It Spreads

12:08 PM EST on January 17, 2024

Image via NFL, edits by Dan McQuade

The broadcast of the Steelers-Bills wild card game on Monday opened with a promo video showing how both teams stunk earlier in the season. It then cut to a shot of the stadium as Jim Nantz introduced the game.

“Welcome,” he said, “to Super Bowl Wild Card Weekend!”

I laughed. It was an amusing announcer slip-up. That it was Jim Nantz, CBS’s lead NFL play-by-play guy since 2004, screwing up made it even funnier. But it also pissed me off—and not at Nantz. I was angry at the NFL. I was angry at the phrase “Super Wild Card Weekend.”

The NFL expanded the playoffs to seven teams in the 2020 season, putting one of the extra games on Monday night. That year, the league began branding the wild card round as “Super Wild Card Weekend.” The league seems to have announced the name in a press release on Jan. 3, 2021. “The NFL has announced tonight the schedule of sites, dates, and times for Super Wild Card Weekend on January 9-10,” it read. “The addition of a third Wild Card team in each conference and the subsequent expansion of the playoffs has resulted in a Super Wild Card Weekend of NFL action.”

There was a half-hearted attempted at an explanation—the expansion of the playoffs meant wild card weekend was now “super”—but that’s about it. It was now Super Wild Card Weekend. I can buy that it made sense for the first year where the playoffs expanded to 14 teams. That it has continued for subsequent seasons is strange. An extra team doesn’t necessarily make it “super.” Since expansion, two of the four "super" wild card rounds have had an average margin of victory of more than 17 points. Unless the NFL comes up with a better explanation as to why it’s super, I reject the term.

And yet the media keeps using it. Obviously league broadcasters like CBS use the term. USA Today, though it has made fun of the term in the past, uses it. So does CNN. Ditto Pro Football Focus and Fox News. Even outlets with no direct financial connection to the NFL, like The Ringer, use it sometimes. Only a few outlets are standing strong. Though press releases from Comcast and ESPN call the weekend super, and announcers said it on TV, as far as I can tell the websites of both NBC and ESPN avoid the phrase.

It took until Nantz’s blunder for me to realize why I hate “Super Wild Card Weekend” so much. The NFL already has something Super. The Super Bowl is a stupid name for a game, but it makes sense. Colleges have regular ol’ bowl games named after Roses and Oranges and corporate sponsors, so the NFL’s big bowl game must be much better. It must be Super. The first evidence I can find of the name “Super Bowl” is in a July 18, 1966 Associated Press story about the possible location of the first AFL/NFL championship game, to be played after that season. “I think one of the first things we’ll consider is the site of the Super Bowl—that’s my term for the championship game between the two leagues,” Kansas City owner Lamar Hunt said. He didn’t really explain the name. But he didn’t need to. It was obvious.

Super Wild Card Weekend is not. The first Super Bowl matched up the winners of two different leagues. Super Wild Card Weekend adds a seventh team to the playoffs. There are two rounds after it before the Super Bowl. Are the divisional round and the conference championships less than super?

And, yes, the name is confusing, as evidenced by Nantz calling it “Super Bowl Wild Card Weekend.” The NFL already has something “Super.” We must reject the phrase before it continues to spread. It’s just wild card weekend. The first round of the playoffs. Playoffs Week 1. Anything but Super Wild Card Weekend, please.

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