Football fans have been known to go off the deep end, but coin collectors usually aren't too far behind them.
How do you connect the Super Bowl of Jan. 30 to coin collecting? Actually, it's very simple since there was a coin toss involved at the beginning of the game to determine who gets the ball first and who defends what end of the field.
This isn't sandlot football, where the referee digs into his pocket and picks a coin at random to use to make the call. The pre-game coin toss at the 2000 Super Bowl features the seven members of the Professional Football Hall of Fame who participated in the fourth Super Bowl 30 years ago between Minnesota and Kansas City, and who also participated in this one by witnessing the coin toss. Incidentally, Kansas City won that game 23-7. Now both teams are winners by having some of their former members honored on this piece.
Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt, linebackers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier, and kicker Jan Stenerud were joined by former foes Minnesota Vikings former coach Bud Grant, defensive end Alan Page and safety Paul Krause at the coin toss.
The whole thing sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Well, according to an Associated Press quote regarding the tradition, Grant said, "We're going to practice this coin toss over and over to make sure there are no slip ups. We're each going to carry our own coin so we don't wind up like that referee in the commercial."
The referee to whom Grant was referring is an actor in a Southwest Airlines commercial whom misplaces his toss coin and has to scramble to find another. I wonder how many times in real life that has happened?
If coin collectors had anything to be disappointed about in the Jan. 30 Super Bowl game, it was that the cameras following the coin toss didn't give a clear view of the coin being flipped. Unfortunately, nothing was immediately available regarding the metal composition of the coin or where it was struck.
Traditionally the so-called Super Bowl coin is actually a specially-struck medal which is later awarded to someone involved in the coin toss. Since it is a medal, the referee typically identifies the "heads" or obverse and "tails" or reverse to those observing the toss before the toss actually occurs. There are enough disputes regarding plays during the game. They certainly don't need someone arguing over which side was heads.
Since a good view of the "coin" was not available on the screen it will be up to the sleuthing of collectors to find out what it looks like and then see if copies of it will become available as game souvenirs. No press releases seen in time for this article indicated any copies would be sold to the public. This doesn't mean the "coins" won't be available. There is always someone out there looking to make a quick buck off a sporting event.
In a collector's world, where we are bombarded by commemorative coins marking the Olympics, soccer and many other sports involving balls, barbells, discuss and just about anything else under the sun, it shouldn't come as a surprise if we now are offered "limited edition" Super Bowl coins or medals.
It's actually a wonder Congress didn't try to get into the act and order the Mint to strike a Super Bowl commemorative coin!
Richard Giedroyc is a numismatic writer, researcher, auction cataloger and coin dealer. He has been in the hobby and business most of his life, now having more than three decades experience in this fascinating hobby field. During this time Giedroyc has been the owner of Paris Bergman Galleries, owner of Classical Coin Newsletter, international editor of Coin World and owner of Giedroyc-Anderson Interesting World Coins. He is currently a numismatic consultant. He has written more than 2,000 byline numismatic stories and contributed to several coin catalogs.