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Why no one on TV wants to say 'Super Bowl'

Why No One on TV Wants to Say 'Super Bowl'


Super Bowl 50 is this Sunday, and everyone's talking about it -- though they might not be using the words "Super Bowl."

That's because the term "Super Bowl" is copyrighted by the NFL, prompting people to use a euphemism like "the big game" -- or something else. Remember "The Colbert Report"?

SEE ALSO: Broncos made a surprising decision for the Super Bowl, and it shows the game is in their head

"We are in night three of my Superb Owl coverage!" Colbert said in an episode leading up to the 2014 game.

PHOTOS: Ranking the last 10 Super Bowls
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Ranking the last 10 Super Bowls
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Why no one on TV wants to say 'Super Bowl'

10. Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle defeats Denver 43-8

Regardless of who you were pulling for in this one (unless you're a Seahawks fan) this was indisputably the worst Super Bowl in recent memory. From the opening snap, it was an all-out onslaught by Seattle. Hopefully for Peyton Manning, this year's game goes a little differently.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

9. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis defeats Chicago 29-17

Otherwise known as the time Rex Grossman played in a Super Bowl, 2007's big game -- aside from acting as Peyton Manning's lone championship -- was mostly forgettable. The Bears logged just three points over the final three quarters, and Indy, favored by seven, covered the spread.

(Photo by Gary W. Green/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)

8. Super Bowl XLI: Pittsburgh defeats Seattle 21-10

In Jerome Bettis' final NFL game, he went out a champion. Ben Roethlisberger, in just his second season, earned his first Super Bowl ring, in a game that was relatively low-scoring -- but did include Antwaan Randle El's heroic touchdown pass to Hines Ward.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

1. Super Bowl XLIX: New England defeats Seattle 28-24

The most thrilling Super Bowl of the last decade is also the most recent. Malcolm Butler's last-second interception to fend off the Seahawks' attempt at a go-ahead score will forever live in Patriots lore, as Tom Brady clinched his fourth championship.

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

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As it turns out, Colbert would probably be within his rights to just come out and say Super Bowl, thanks to the concept of nominative fair use. Essentially, you can say the name as long as you're referring to the game and make it clear you're not an official NFL sponsor.

Despite this, companies are often unwilling to take that step, mainly because the NFL is extremely aggressive in protecting its copyright. In 2007, the league famously pushed an Indianapolis church into canceling a Super Bowl watch party.

So why the "Super Bowl" crackdown? Truth is, the NFL isn't just doing this to protect its own brand. It's also making sure its biggest backers stay happy.

Brands like Bud Light, Papa John's and Hyundai are "official sponsors" of the league, meaning they can say Super Bowl as much as they want in their ads.

The NFL wants to make sure this right stays exclusive -- so much so that it's tried to copyright the phrase "the big game" as well, though that 2006 attempt fell through. Besides, Stanford and Cal have been playing their Big Game long before anyone said the words "Super Bowl."

RELATED: San Francisco preparing for the big event
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San Francisco preparing ahead of Super Bowl 50
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Why no one on TV wants to say 'Super Bowl'
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Super Bowl 50 signage is displayed around the city on February 3, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 03: A pedestrian is seen next to the beginning of a large mural on Market Street promoting Super Bowl 50 on February 3, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 03: A fan poses with a Super Bowl 50 sculpture on February 3, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 03: A large graphic of the Vince Lombardi Trophy promoting Super Bowl 50 is displayed on a skyscraper on February 3, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)
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