To say the NFL has changed dramatically since Super Bowl I is an understatement. The average price of a ticket to the first AFL/NFL Championship cost $12 ($92 in today's dollars). For Super Bowl LIV, the average price of a ticket is $9,175*.
I recently had the opportunity to individually speak with Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and three-time Super Bowl champion wide receiver Ed McCaffrey about today's fans and how the league has changed since they played. Here is what they had to say.
How the NFL has changed since you played?
McCaffrey: “The NFL has grown exponentially over the years, even since the days when I played in the late 90s and early 2000s.”
Marino: “They throw more. Running is not as big a part of the game. How they run it, with the zone read and the quarterbacks reading and running, has changed. We didn’t do that part. The rules to not be able to hit the quarterback in the head or the legs makes for longevity for players nowadays. They’re going to play longer. There’s no doubt. You see it with [Tom Brady] and these other guys playing longer. So, the rules are different and the interference at the line of scrimmage and how [defensive players] can hardly touch the receivers makes for a safer game and an easier passing game. It’s a tough game and physical game, but it is easier to throw than in years past.”
Ticketmaster’s annual survey of 3,200 NFL fans found that many would give up things drinking, favorite foods, vacation, or sex for a year to see their favorite team play in the Super Bowl in-person.
McCaffrey: “I think the survey is absolutely hilarious. I'm glad Ticketmaster did it. It feels to me like people are making New Year's resolutions, but 35 percent of fans giving up drinking — that would be good for them anyway so hopefully that happens. Twenty-five percent would like to be buried — that sounds gruesome — but buried in their favorite NFL gear. We're also talking about giving up sex and all the fun things that people love to do throughout the year so it's pretty impressive and it tells you the weight of the NFL and the Super Bowl and how avid fans really are.”
The survey also found that almost one in five NFL fans (18 percent) have decided where to live based on their home team's stadium.
McCaffrey: “One of my favorite moments was taking the bus over to the stadium on game day and watching all the fans in their yards barbecuing or tailgating, and they'd have signs up or flags flying and were wearing their favorite gear. They'd wave to us even though we were the away team, and sometimes it wasn't the most friendly of waves, but nonetheless it was kind of exciting knowing that all the fans were getting ready to play. And I can promise you I always picked my residence based on my favorite in the NFL team, especially during my career.”
Do you have any advice for players in the Super Bowl on Sunday?
Marino: “Enjoy it but take advantage of the opportunity and understand what it means to win when you get that opportunity. For me, I thought I’d be back for years to come after my first Super Bowl when I was 23 years old, and I never got back. So, take advantage of it. Don’t take it for granted.”
McCaffrey: “I'd say carpe diem, baby. Seize the day. For the players who have been practicing and preparing and playing to win their whole career, it's just another game. The halftime is a little longer. You might want to pack a snack.”
*Note: If you are still in the market for a ticket to the big game, but don't want to spend $9,000, there are some still available at www.ticketmaster.com/SuperBowl.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)