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Ask Sports: Why are the 50-yard-line numbers gold in the NFL?

The 50-yard line before an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.
The 50-yard line before an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. Associated Press

Why are the numbers on NFL 50-yard-line painted gold?

The NFL has had numerous promotions to commemorate significant anniversaries for the league.

In 1969, players wore a patch with a “50” at the top of the familiar NFL shield to mark the 50th season of the league. Twenty-five years later in 1994, NFL players wore a diamond-shaped patch containing “75” to mark the diamond anniversary of the league. All teams wore throwback uniforms for the first time during that 75th NFL season, as well.

Original AFL teams wore a 50th anniversary patch during the 2009 season.

In 2015 teams are competing for the right to play in the 50th Super Bowl.

To mark that occasion, the NFL has adopted a golden theme, changing the official league logos from red, white and blue to gold and black. All other logos are following suit, including ones for the 2015 NFL Draft, the playoffs in January and, of course, Super Bowl 50. The 50-yard-line numbers are gold as part of this “On the Fifty” campaign.

The NFL is also taking a one-year hiatus from using roman numerals for the game, making this the first Super Bowl since Super Bowl I to lack that designation at game time. The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in 1967 was retroactively called Super Bowl I in subsequent years.

The one team that has not yet painted its 50-yard-line numbers gold yet? The Oakland Raiders, cross-bay rivals of the San Francisco 49ers, who are hosting Super Bowl 50.

Raiders owner Mark Davis tried to squash the conspiracy theories this week, though, saying the team would paint the numbers gold as soon as the baseball season ends for the Athletics, with whom they share Coliseum.

“Nobody respects the Super Bowl more than the Raiders,” quoted Davis as saying. “We had a little to do with the (AFL-NFL merger) and those types of things. We’ve played in 10 percent of the Super Bowls, and we hope to play in next year.”