Even though football has been the most significant professional sports league for the 20th century, it hasn’t always been like that.
Nowadays, we can’t even comprehend the amount of money that football is today, but few of us know about its early and humble days.
- 1 Who established NFL for the very first time?
- 2 1920- A year to remember for the American Professional Football Association
- 3 The 1930s-1940s- New teams are coming along/ the first playoff
- 4 The 1940s-1950s- Trouble in paradise?
- 5 The 1960s- The First Super Bowl, the AFL, and the Merger
- 6 The 1970s- The only way is up
- 7 The 1980s-90s- USFL competition, the Franchise and Free Agency
- 8 The 2000s- The Patriots era and Goodell
- 9 Today
Who established NFL for the very first time?
It was only 1892 when the first notable professional football event took place. Even though that’s not the year when football came into the world, it was the game between the Pittsburgh Athletic Club and the Allegheny Athletic Association when the players got paid for playing.
People tried for a couple of years to create an official professional football league, and the first one to name would be the National Football League in 1902. With no money and fame, the association quickly vanished.
The Ohio League is a local league that knew success on some level, with Jim Thorpe as one of the most reputed athletes to name. At this point, football was slowly winning its fans but lacked the organization for thriving. Soon enough, the owners of teams from Indiana, New York, and Illinois created the American Professional Football Association. It’s what we know today as the NFL.
1920- A year to remember for the American Professional Football Association
Fourteen teams were in the league in 1920, but the AFPA wasn’t able to take the stand for the season. Unfortunately, the poor organization and the absence of a playoff system made the championship controversial. For instance, a game between the current Chicago Staleys and Buffalo turned into a tiebreaker, but it was Chicago winning the championships. The playoff system wasn’t even born yet.
Throughout the 20s, other teams joined the AFPA, and some of them still exist. The New York Giants joined in 1925, whereas the Green Bay Packers in 1921. The Staleys (currently the Chicago Bears) and the Cardinals (in Arizona now) are still NFL teams.
In 1922, the AFPA turned into the National Football League and never changed the name to this day.
The 1930s-1940s- New teams are coming along/ the first playoff
1932 was a big year for both the NFL and the way the championship was given. By that time, the winning team would be the one with the highest winning percentage. For that year though, it was a tie for the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans.
The league had no other option but to void the rule against playoff games, and that’s how the first NFL Championships Game happened. For your information, the Bears won 9-0.
Thanks to a successful ending, the league improved the system and divided the teams into the Eastern and the Western Division. The new format was very well received, and the division winners would meet in the Championship Game.
Fans started to like it even more, and the teams went through some changes too. Some vanished from the NFL, whereas others came into the scene on both divisions.
The 1940s-1950s- Trouble in paradise?
The segregation in NFL wasn’t a common topic, but in the mid-1930s into the 40s, there were no black players in the league.
It was the current Los Angeles that broke the ice, even if it was by force, and the stadium wasn’t going to be leased to a team that was entirely segregated.
Slowly, other NFL teams began to sign with black players, but it was only the beginning of the 50s when most teams would have at least one black player. Nobody was surprised that the Washington Redskins were the only ones not to integrate black players. They had no other choice but to sign black players in 1962 when the team was refused the lease on the stadium.
Integration, fantastic championship runs, and expansion improved the popularity, and football turned into a popular new sport.
The 1960s- The First Super Bowl, the AFL, and the Merger
Other leagues appeared, and they were competing against the NFL. In the 50s, the oil heir Lamar Hunt planned to develop an opponent football league, and the American Football League (AFL) was born in 1959.
For a while, the AFL made an impression, but it never truly become a threat to the NFL. However, in 1964 they signed a better deal with NBC, which brought more money, and teams were able to compete with the NFL for the players. Soon enough, the AFL became even more accessible, and the bidding wars became common.
Luckily for the football lovers, in 1966, a secret merger took place, and the new league would include 24 teams, reaching 28 units by 1970.
The “AFL-NFL World Championship Game” was what we know today as Super Bowl.
The 1970s- The only way is up
In the 70s, the NFL began to turn into what we all know today. Tampa Bay and Seattle joined the team, whereas the Boston Patriots turned into the New England Patriots. The Super Bowl gets stronger, with teams sharing their winnings.
The 1980s-90s- USFL competition, the Franchise and Free Agency
By now, the NFL is an institution, and more than 80 million people watch the Super Bowl every year. The United States Football League (USFL) didn’t make it until the 4th season, and it was obvious that competing against the NFL wasn’t easy.
San Francisco 49ers stole the show, whereas Chicago Bears and New York Giants managed to win the first Super Bowl Championship finally. Denver Broncos didn’t stop and managed to win the Super Bowl twice.
The “franchise tag” is created, giving a team the possibility to select one player per free agency season. They could later on “tag” and provide an amazing one-year contract, with the chance of expanding it to more years.
The 2000s- The Patriots era and Goodell
It’s the era of Patriots, with Tom Brady dominating the field and named the MVP in the Super Bowl. The elite team that the Patriots have become won people’s hearts and didn’t leave any room for the competition.
Ever since 2001, the Patriots participated in 8 Super Bowls, winning five of them (don’t forget to check BetAmerica for SuperBowl odds).
In 2006, Goodell was voted the new commissioner for the NFL and helped the NFL expand exponentially.
Even if the television ratings are declining, the NFL didn’t stop developing. Some controversies and public relations drama cast a negative light on the NFL, but there’s no such thing as bad publicity, remember?
The 18-weeks lockout in 2011, the 2012 referee lockout, or the punishments for domestic abuse allegations by NFL players are only some to name. Despite all the scandals, the NFL still stands as one big powerhouse in American sports.