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The NFL unveiled the logo for its highly anticipated 50th Super Bowl (coming in 2016), but for the first time in four decades it will be missing something. The league will abandon the use of Roman numerals to indicate the game number, a tradition that's been in place since Super Bowl V. In this case, a single letter L will become the actual number 50.

"Taking an L" is a phrase that has become part of the cultural lexicon enough that it should not need much explanation. It means "to lose," and losing is bad in sports. So "Taking Super Bowl L," could mean both that a team won the contest and that they lost in a Super Bowl. But mostly it just looked weird. 

The league allegedly manufactured 73 drafts of potential Super Bowl L logos, according to NFL vice president of brand and creative Jaime Weston, before deciding, it just wasn't going to work.

"When we developed the Super Bowl XL logo, that was the first time we looked at the letter 'L,'" Weston said. "Up until that point, we had only worked with X's, V's and I's. And, at that moment, that's when we started to wonder what will happen when we get to 50?"

That's why the league claims this will be for one year only, and the letters will return for LI. "We think what we have makes a very powerful statement for the NFL brand," Weston told ESPN.

The Roman numerals have caused marketing issues before, but have never been abandoned. Many have pointed out that the NFL has lived through much more embarrassing Super Bowl logos, like Super Bowl XXX, and the untold number of jokes that came with it.

Super Bowl 50, which will be played at San Francisco's still-unopened Levi's Stadium, on Feb. 7, 2016. How boring. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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