The History of American Football

  • Father Of American Football

    Father Of American Football Walter Camp is widely considered to be the most important figure in the development of American football. He helped develop play from scrimmage and restrictions to 11 players per side. This allowed teams to develop and use strategy and preconceived plays.
  • First College Game

    First College Game The first ever college football national championship awarded (retroactively) was split between the only two participants in 1869, Rutgers and Princeton. Princeton was named the champion by the Billingsley Report and the National Championship Foundation, while college football research historian Parke H. Davis named the two teams co-champions. Various other ratings and retrospectives have rated the teams differently.
  • Rules Are Standardized

    Rules Are Standardized On October 20, 1873, representatives from Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City to codify the first set of intercollegiate football rules. Before this meeting, each school had its own set of rules and games were usually played using the home team's own particular code. At this meeting, a list of rules, based more on soccer than on rugby, was drawn up for intercollegiate football games.
  • Yale V. McGill

    Yale V. McGill American football evolved from the two sports of rugby and soccer. McGill University learned the sport of rugby from the local British Army who in turn brought it to the U.S playing a game against Harvard University in 1874. Walter Camp of Yale University encouraged the new game of football; schools in the Ivy League picked the game up fairly quick.
  • First Night TIme Football Game

    First Night TIme Football Game In 1879, the University of Michigan became the first school west of Pennsylvania to establish a college football team. Other Midwestern schools soon followed suit, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Minnesota. The first western team to travel east was the 1881 Michigan team, which played at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
  • Glenn "Pop" Warner

    Glenn "Pop" Warner During Warner's forty-four years as a head coach he introduced many innovations to the game, including the spiral punt; naked bootleg; double reverse; three-point stance; screen pass; single- and double-wing formations; the numbering of players' jerseys; the employment of shoulder pads, thigh pads, lightweight uniforms, and safer helmets; and the use of blocking sleds and tackling dummies at practice.
  • Death In Football

    Death In Football The situation came to a head in 1905 when there were 19 fatalities nationwide. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to shut down the game if drastic changes were not made.
  • NCAA

    NCAA On December 28, 1905, 62 schools met in New York City to discuss rule changes to make the game safer. As a result of this meeting, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was formed. One rule change introduced in 1906, devised to open up the game and reduce injury, was the introduction of the legal forward pass.
  • Development Of Field

    Development Of Field By 1912 American football was played on a field with dimensions of 120 by 53.3 yards. Each field goal line is 100 yards apart on each end of the field with each endzone extending 10 yards. There are goal posts at the end of each endzone; the crossbar is raised 10 feet above the ground, and the two upright posts are 18.6 feet apart on each end of the crossbar.
  • First Look on the NFL

    First Look on the NFL 20 teams had representatives meet at the Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. Among the several amendments to the two-year-old league’s constitution was the official change of the league’s name from the American Professional Football Association to the National Football League.
  • Strongest Franchises Survive

    Strongest Franchises Survive The NFL, hoping to eliminate rampant turnover in financially weak franchises, decides to eliminate all but its most economically stable teams. The move cuts the number of franchises from 22 to 12, and permanently moves the league's center of gravity from small Midwestern towns to large Eastern cities.
  • First Draft In The NFL

    First Draft In The NFL The idea to draft the top players from college into the NFL was generated by Bert Bell. This changed the game dramatically because his idea was to let the teams draft in the opposite order from how they finished the previous season. So the team that finished the worst and needs the most improvement would get the first pick allowing them to draft the most valuable players.
  • First Televised NFL Game

    First Televised NFL Game NBC was able to work a deal to be the first to broadcast an NFL game. It was against the philidelphia eagles and the brookly dodgers. this game was played in front of a littler of 13,000 fans. There were no commercial inerruptions but there were difficulties with the picture and being able to see the game because of the weather.
  • War Takes Players

    War Takes Players With many of the NFL's players and fans overseas in military service, the league struggles to survive through World War II. Pennsylvania rivals Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, both unable to field a complete team, temporarily join forces to play one season as the Phil-Pitt Steagles.
  • First African-Americans

    First African-Americans The Los Angeles Rams sign former UCLA stars Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, who will become the first African-Americans to play in the NFL in the modern era, ending 13 years of whites-only football in the league.
  • Greates Game Ever Played

    Greates Game Ever Played The Baltimore Colts defeat the New York Giants 23-17 in overtime to win the NFL Championship in the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played."
  • AFL

    AFL oilmen Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams, rebuffed in their attempts to acquire NFL franchises for Houston and Dallas, announce plans to form a new football league to rival the NFL. Their new league, called the American Football League (AFL), will begin play in 1960 with eight teams.
  • Jim Brown

    Jim Brown The Cleveland Browns' powerful running back Jim Brown leads the NFL in rushing yardage for the fifth straight season, setting a record that will last for half a century.
  • Antitrust Exemption

    Antitrust Exemption The NFL wins a special antitrust exemption from Congress, authorizing the sale of league-wide television broadcast rights and the distribution of resulting revenues in equal shares to all league teams. Almost immediately, Commissioner Pete Rozelle negotiates the NFL's first national TV deal, in which CBS agrees to pay the league $4.65 million a year for exclusive broadcast rights.
  • College Player Competition

    College Player Competition Ferocious competition between the NFL and AFL to sign the best players coming out of college football results in out-of-control bidding wars for top talent. Highly coveted University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, chosen in both leagues' drafts, opts to join the AFL's New York Jets after being offered the largest contract to date in pro football history.
  • AFL-NFL Merger Agreed

    AFL-NFL Merger Agreed NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announces that the NFL and AFL have reached an agreement to merge into a single league by 1970. In the meantime, the two leagues' champions will meet each January in a new AFL-NFL World Championship Game. That game quickly becomes known as the Super Bowl.
  • First Superbowl

    First Superbowl The first superbowl between the american football league kansas city chiefs and the national football league green bay packers in Los Angelos. Vince Lombardi and the greenbay packers beat Hank Stram and the chiefs 35-10.
  • “Immaculate Reception”

    “Immaculate Reception” Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception" gives the Pittsburgh Steelers an implausible last-second victory over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Playoffs.
  • Coke Ad

    Coke Ad During the broadcast of Super Bowl XIII, Coca-Cola airs one of the most popular Super Bowl ads of all time, showing fearsome Pittsburgh linebacker "Mean" Joe Greene and a young fan "having a Coke and a smile" in a stadium tunnel after a game.
  • First Halftime Concert

    First Halftime Concert Super Bowl XVI, held just outside Detroit in Pontiac, Michigan, includes the first Super Bowl musical performance by a major recording industry superstar: Motown's own Diana Ross. Ross's performance will kick off a new era in elaborately produced pregame and halftime entertainment.
  • Apple 1984 Ad

    Apple 1984 Ad The broadcast for Super Bowl XVIII includes the debut of one of the most famous television commercials ever: Apple Computer's "1984" ad. Inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the spot's impact on thegame's massive audience inaugurates a new era of sophisticated Super Bowl advertising. On the field, the Los Angeles Raiders crush the Washington Redskins to win their third NFL championship.
  • Football Strike

    Football Strike The NFL Players Association—the union representing pro football players—goes out on strike, hoping to force the NFL into allowing free agency and guaranteeing players a higher proportion of league revenues.
  • Willie Flipper Anderson

    Willie Flipper Anderson Speedy Los Angeles Rams wideout Willie "Flipper" Anderson sets an all-time NFL record by racking up 336 receiving yards in a game against the New Orleans Saints.
  • Big Cities Lose Teams

    Big Cities Lose Teams In a two month-span, both of Los Angeles's NFL teams flee the nation's second largest city for new locations. The Rams move to St. Louis, while the Raiders return to their original home of Oakland.
  • Jerry Rice

    Jerry Rice Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL, officially marks his retirement from football with a halftime celebration in San Francisco. Rice leaves the game as the NFL's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
  • Patriots Fail To Achieve A Perfect Season

    Patriots Fail To Achieve A Perfect Season Leading one of the most potent offenses in NFL history, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sets a new NFL record by throwing for 50 touchdown passes in the 2007 season. Brady's Pats storm to the NFL's first undefeated regular season since 1972, but fail to achieve perfection after stumbling to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.