It’s been 154 years since American football arrived and took the world by storm. This is why we will be looking back at the evolution of the sport, a sport where physicality meets cleverness to win.
What is American Football?
American football is a competition between two teams. The goal of each group is to score by bringing an oval-shaped ball to the opponent’s “end zone.” This sport is extremely physical and complicated, so it needs a combination of skills, strategies, and teamwork.
Here is its timeline:
The history of American football can be traced back to the different ball games from Europe, like soccer. It also includes a little bit of the early adaptation of rugby. In fact, this game was brought into America by the early European settlers. The first-ever American football game happened in 1869 between the Rutgers and Princeton. The rules were based on soccer.
In its early forms, colleges and universities have their own set of football rules. However, on October 20, 1873, representatives from Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers gathered at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City to discuss having a standard intercollegiate rulebook.
In 1881, a player and coach from Yale University named Walter Camp delegated the rules for the sport. He was later known as the “Father of American Football.”
With a group, Camp and some representatives convened at the Massasoit Convention to talk about the sport’s rules. It resulted in regulations about possession, downs, numerical scoring, and number of players on the field.
With the game gaining traction, the American Professional Football Association (later known as NFL) was established. Its objective is to have a league for professional football teams.
It also aimed to organize and promote professional football across the United States. Additionally, it also called for a standard set of rules. The organization also protects the rights of the athletes.
However, it was not smooth sailing. There have been many teams that left the APFA; schedules and standings were a mess.
But after a couple of years, it changed its name, and up until now, it remains to be the National Football League (NFL).
In 1932, the NFL designated its own Rules Committee to create more rules. It is also the reason why American football is different from rugby.
After a year, the NFL held its first championship game on December 17, 1933. It was between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants at Wrigley Field, Chicago. The Bears were the first NFL champions, beating the Giants 23-21.
A rival of the NFL was created this year, the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Unfortunately, it only lasted three years due to financial problems. The AAFC disbanded in 1949, and three teams (49ers, Browns, and Baltimore Colts) went to the NFL.
This was the year fans witnessed the “Greatest Game Ever Played.” It was between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants for the NFL Championship. It also marked the first-ever sudden-death overtime. The Colts took home the championship, beating the Giants 23-17.
Another rival of the NFL was established: the American Football League (AFL). Its creation stemmed from the organization not allowing businessman Lamar Hunt to have his own football team. To make his desire a reality, he formed AFL and invited seven other groups to create an eight-team league.
But like the AAFC, the AFL had to bow out after ten years. It then merged with the NFL later on.
This is the year that the first championship game between the AFL and the NFL happened. The legendary matchup after the AFL announced in June 1966 that it would merge with the NFL. It was initially named the AFL-NFL Championship Game (which later became the Super Bowl). It was between the NFL Champions Green Bay Packers and AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers decimated the Chiefs, 35-10, and showed that the NFL league is far superior to the AFL.
The NFL and the AFL began operating as one organization in 1970. This year also saw the Buffalo Bills, Boston Patriots, New York Jets, Houston Oilers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and San Diego Chargers join the NFL.
This was the year when the NFL implemented the guidelines for pass interference, an act where a player is beyond one yard from the line of the scrimmage and affects a receiver’s chance to catch the football. The number of officials was increased—from two to seven.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the NFL continues pursuing evolution and progress to benefit the organization and the players. There may be challenges along the way, like the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the league stood tall and adapted to bring action to their fans and, most importantly, to provide good odds for online bookmakers like OKBet.