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Upon further review: The Arizona Super Bowl that wasn’t

"Upon further review" is a recurring segment in which This Given Sunday analyzes quirks and fascinating tidbits from the NFL's history books. 

Last week, many of you had the chance to take a break from school or work due to Martin Luther, Jr. Day. This week, many of you will take an unofficial federal holiday for Super Bowl Sunday. But there was a time in which the Super Bowl was greatly impacted by MLK day. That time was well before all 50 states agreed to observe the holiday honoring the civil rights champion in 2000. 

Let's take you back to Super Bowl XXVII (27 for the roman numeral impaired) between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, which took place Jan. 31, 1993 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. 

But that game, which was won by the Cowboys, was actually supposed to be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. 

See, Tempe was awarded the game in March of 1990. But on the ballot for that upcoming November was the observance of MLK Day within the state of Arizona, which had been in flux during its first seven years of national existence due to the presence of Republican politicians who opposed giving King a holiday. 

Amazingly, only 24 years ago, the people of Arizona voted against the approval and adoption of the holiday. And in response, the NFL pulled the game from Tempe and gave it to Southern California. 

The lost revenue from that as well as an entertainment and convention boycott on the state led by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, and musician Stevie Wonder was enough to cause Arizona voters to think again when the holiday was on the 1992 ballot. At that point, Arizona voted to observe the holiday moving forward, but it was too late to get their Super Bowl back in '93. 

However, at their 1993 meeting, the NFL awarded Tempe Super Bowl XXX, which was also won by the Cowboys in January of 1996. 

The game never returned to the Rose Bowl. 

So while the NFL is constantly criticized for being a money-hungry machine with no concern for human life, let's consider the possibility that the league was the biggest force behind a cranky old state finally observing the annual day in which one of the nation's biggest heroes is honored. Kudos to the owners for including that caveat in their 1990 decision and for standing their ground after the state refused to play ball the first time around. 

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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