2023 Super Bowl: Who receives the Lombardi Trophy? Why isn’t it given to the team captain?
For all its prestige, the Super Bowl’s trophy presentation is quite frankly, lame. Here’s a look at one of the strangest traditions that we know of, when it comes the victor.
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In what continues to be one of the most puzzling trophy presentations known to sport, the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell traditionally presents the Vince Lombardi trophy to the owner of the winning team rather than the captain, or at the very least the coach. The question is ‘why?’
Why do NFL team owners receive the Super Bowl trophy?
When the curtain comes down on Super Bowl LVII this Sunday night, we’re all going to be subjected to what has got to be considered one of the more awkward moments in professional sports. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will make his way onto the stage that has been setup and once there he will present the Vince Lombardi trophy to the owner of the winning team. In this year’s big game, that will either be the Chiefs’ Clark Hunt or the Eagles’ Jeffrey Lurie. If you’re wondering why the trophy won’t be presented to the captain or coach, as is the way in just about any professional sport that we can think of, then it’s not just you, we are as well.
Yet, believe it or not, there does appear to be some method to this madness even if it’s hard to swallow. From a legal standpoint, the owner of a team is considered the owner of the trophy. Proof of that can be seen in the case of former Houston Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander. Indeed, when Alexander sold the franchise to Tilman Fertitta in 2017, he kept the two championship trophies the Rockets won during the 1990s and there was nothing that the team or anyone else could do about it. Ultimately, the Rockets had to commission replicas of the trophies that they themselves won. On the other hand, while we can all appreciate the legal ramifications involved, it still seems rather silly. This is not to say that owners don’t have a role in a team’s success, of course they do. Though, it would be a stretch to compare their “sacrifices” to those of the men who subject their bodies to brutality, in an effort to claim football’s biggest prize.
What’s the solution to the NFL’s trophy presentation problem?
As we’ve already established, there are no kids forcing their parents to shell out their hard-earned dollars for a replica suit of a millionaire NFL team owner, nor are there fantasy football leagues that wager one owner against another. Ultimately, sports whether professional or otherwise have always been about the teams, men and women who play them. With that in mind, isn’t the solution simple? The athletes should be at the center, rather than those who pay their salaries.
While the tendency to use soccer as an example is understandable, with its firework and confetti infused team celebrations, in which the winning captain is granted first grip on the trophy. Indeed, even victory laps around the field follow, with the crowd fully involved. On the other hand, there is perhaps a reference point that’s closer to home in terms of the very culture of the United States and that’s the NHL. In the world of hockey, when the Stanley Cup finally comes to an end, the commissioner himself comes down to the ice to present the Stanley Cup trophy directly to the winning team’s captain. Said captain, then skates around the rink almost drunk with excitement, as he pumps at flaunts the cup in the air. One could say, that the highly anticipated moment is a story in itself. Once his run is over, he passes it off to a teammate and the process is repeated. It’s a clear reminder that a team is only a sum of its parts, such that each part should be given credit. As the Musketeers taught us, it’s one for all and all for one.