National Football League
The curse of winning the Super Bowl coin toss
National Football League

The curse of winning the Super Bowl coin toss

Updated Feb. 11, 2023 7:57 p.m. ET

PHOENIX – When it comes to the Super Bowl, people talk about the coin toss without really talking about the coin toss.

When the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles were etched as the participants, people talked about the coin toss because they wanted NFL supermom Donna Kelce to perform the ritual (she won't), given that she will have son, Travis and Jason, on either team.

There is some talk about the type of coin that will be used, believe it or not, and the Highland Mint's limited edition commemorative effort is a "thing" in the collecting and memorabilia world – you can even get your own replica copy for a mere $99.99.

Sports bettors, not entirely seriously, discuss whether heads or tails is going to come up and which team is going to win the toss, and yes, such things are among the monumental number of different props and wagers you can plump down your money on.


What about who gets an advantage from the toss? "No one really talks about that," was the consensus when I asked a small group of Eagles backups earlier this week.

Well, maybe they should.

For the tiny portion of the Super Bowl metaverse that pays attention to the coin toss, there is a strange little mystery that is growing in momentum.

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In each of the past eight Super Bowls, the team that has won the coin flip has, as NFL teams typically do, deferred its choice to the second half. All eight have lost the game.

That's right, starting with the last time the Super Bowl was held here and the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks on Malcolm Butler's walk-off interception, the winner of every heads-tails showdown has turned into the loser of the ultimate matchup in football.

Pure coincidence? Probably. But from a not insignificant sample size. The statisticians will tell you the likelihood of such a run is 1 in 256. Unless, deferring and giving the other team the ball first is somehow a disadvantage, contrary to the typical perception that having possession to begin the second half conveys a slight edge.

"From a strategic standpoint, deferring makes the most sense," FOX NFL rules analyst Dean Blandino told me. "You have to look at it over the sample size in general and how it plays into the wishes of the coaches and the flexibility of their strategy. I wouldn't think there is something especially different that changes whether it is an advantage or not for a Super Bowl.

"One thing you can be sure about, now we are talking about it, and it is getting noticed, it will probably go the other way."

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FOX refereeing expert Mike Pereira remembers when deferring first came into the NFL, with the option having been implemented first in college football.

"When we tried to get that rule passed where you could defer it took us three seasons to get it through," Pereira said. "The coaches said ‘we are never going to defer.' Then we got it passed and everybody is starting to defer and became the most common thing to do.

"I don't follow those types of trends regarding the Super Bowl, but it is rather interesting."

Interesting, for sure, and one of those wrinkles that comes up when you have two full weeks to talk about a single game of football, which is hotly anticipated and, by now, can't come around quickly enough.

It is part of the paraphernalia of the event, or is it? For some players superstition is definitely a real and present part of their preparation.

It probably won't go down this way, but if you see an Eagles or Chiefs team captain celebrating after losing the toss Sunday … now you know why.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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