It happens every year at the end of the Super Bowl. As the clock ticks down and it becomes obvious which team is going home a champion and which is not, the winning team executes one final play. The players grab a giant cooler of Gatorade and dump the sports drink over their head coach’s head.
Some coaches try to outrun the attack. Others accept the sticky coronation with a smile. The tradition symbolically ends every Super Bowl, something you can count on whether it’s a pandemic year or not.
Of course, the Gatorade bath is far from the only unique football tradition. As we get ready for Super Bowl LV, we rounded up a list of the eight best football traditions across the country – including one each from this year’s Super Bowl participants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.
1. Tampa Bay’s cannon firing
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ mascot is, as the name implies, a swashbuckling pirate, so it’s only fitting that the team has a pirate ship in the stands at Raymond James Stadium. Every time the Bucs score a touchdown, the ship’s cannons really fire.
When Super Bowl LV kicks off Sunday evening in Tampa Bay, it will mark the first time in NFL history that a host team has made the big game. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the NFL isn’t treating this as a home game, so you won’t hear any of the usual big booms when Tom Brady connects with a receiver in the end zone.
2. Kansas City’s tailgating
While tailgating is a football tradition across much of the country, Kansas City takes it to a whole new level – exactly as you’d expect for the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” Tailgaters enjoy the slow-smoked style whether they prep the meat themselves on portable grills or bring carryout from local favorites like Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.
And once they’ve cleaned up their ribs and brisket, fans cheer along with the Chiefs Rumble, the team drumline that wanders the parking lot leading up to kickoff.
3. Super Bowl’s “I’m Going to Disney World”
One of the most-anticipated moments after every Super Bowl game is seeing who gets to yell, “I’m going to Disney World!” as confetti streams down and they celebrate their well-earned win.
Every year, the Super Bowl MVP utters this familiar catchphrase just after the game ends. And every year, the winning player actually goes to Florida. Last year’s MVP, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, accompanied more than a dozen kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to the park.
4. Buffalo’s Bills Mafia
At about 10 years old, Bills Mafia is one of the newer great NFL traditions. A group of Buffalo Bills fans who connected over social media and dubbed themselves the Bills Mafia held some meetups in the early 2010s and later moved on to bigger causes.
The group has devoted itself to showing support for its own and opposing teams’ players through dazzling acts of kindness. For instance, when Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson got injured while facing the Bills during this season’s playoffs, Bills Mafia members donated more than half a million dollars to Louisville, Kentucky’s Blessings in a Backpack, the QB’s favorite charity.
They also like jumping through tables (though it’s been banned at the stadium).
5. Green Bay’s Lambeau Leap
Players have long enjoyed inventing special ways to celebrate their touchdowns, but when members of the Green Bay Packers score a touchdown at Lambeau Field, there’s only one acceptable thing to do: the Lambeau Leap.
Players leap into the stands behind the end zone, where adoring fans catch and hug them, joining in the glee. The tradition dates back to 1993, when Packer LeRoy Butler vaulted into the stands following his first-ever NFL touchdown.
6. Pittsburgh’s Terrible Towels
The first Terrible Towels appeared in Pittsburgh in 1975, when the Steelers needed extra support when facing the Baltimore Colts during the playoffs. Announcer Myron Cope suggested fans take yellow dish towels to the game and wave them in the air to encourage the Black and Gold.
After the squad made the Super Bowl that season, it sold gold towels with the words “Myron Cope's Terrible Towel” emblazoned in black. The Steelers won the game, and the power of the Terrible Towels was confirmed. Since then, fans at home games have waved the towels before games begin and when the team needs a big play.
7. Cleveland’s Dawg Pound
The Cleveland Browns may not have one of the league’s best teams, but they do have one of the NFL’s best fanbases, including a special group that inspires the squad with its rabblerousing.
The Dawg Pound sits in the bleacher section located in the back of FirstEnergy Stadium’s east end zone. These were once the cheapest seats in the house but have now become spots even season ticket holders compete to earn.
Members of the Dawg Pound dress up in dog masks and carry fake bones, wearing and saying whatever it takes to spark the team, including leading chants of, “Here we go Brownies, here we go! Woof! Woof.” One famed member of the Dawg Pound? The late slugger Henry “Hank” Aaron, a Browns superfan, occasionally sneaked into the section incognito.
8. Seattle’s 12th Man
Every team in the league has fans. Not every team has designated those fans a part of the squad. The Seattle Seahawks consider their hugely vocal fans such a critical part of their success that they’ve dubbed the fanbase the 12th Man, and you can even buy 12th Man jerseys at the games.
The rabid crowd is a difference-maker, too. They cheer so loudly, the decibel level has been measured at over 137, or a little louder than a jet takeoff. That makes it hard for opposing teams to communicate and run their offense correctly – and helps explain Seattle’s league-leading 7-1 home record this past season.