A short history of American Football

This is a picture of the American football ball for the article : A short history of the American football

American football is one of the most watched sports in the world today and its popularity continues to grow year by year all around the world. In this article, we will give you a short history of American Football as we know it today.

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In the Beginning…

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to the history of American Football is that there is a distinction between American football and the NFL. We will discuss the NFL and its creation later on, but first, we need to look at how American football, as a sport came to be.

Was college football

Football first developed at the top American universities, highlighting also how it remains such a popular college sport. The first intercollegiate football game was played on November 6, 1869, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, between Princeton and Rutgers. However, this version of the game was closer to soccer than to football as we know it today. As the game developed, more colleges wanted to switch to a more rugby-like game and in 1876 representatives from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia met together to form a new Intercollegiate Football Association based on rugby rules.

The rules continued to develop until 1910 when the NCAA was created and most modern rules were introduced. The game continued to gain popularity in America and peaked after World War I when it was acknowledged to be the biggest spectator sport in the country.

The Creation of the NFL

As college football was booming, a group of players decided to create a professional league. The NFL as we know it was created in 1920. Its first name was the APFA (American Professional Football Association).

In its first season, the APFA had 14 teams, of which only two continue to exist to this day: the Chicago Bears (known as the Decatur Staleys) and the Arizona Cardinals (known as the Racine Cardinals). Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, league membership fluctuated between 8 and 22 teams.

The NFL took its modern shape in 1933. Before this, there was only one regular season where the champion would be crowned depending on who had the most victories throughout the season. The first team to win the competition was the Akron Pros with a record of 8 wins and 3 draws. 

This is a picture of the Akron Pros, the first team to win the Brunswick-Bake Collender
Akron Pros

In 1932 everything changed when the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans had to play an extra game for the first time to see who the champion would be. Then in 1933, the teams were divided into two divisions and the winners of each division would play against each other to see who would become champion.

This is a picture of the Chicago Stadium for the 1932 game between the  chicago bears vs portsmouth spartans
Chicago Bears playing against Portsmouth Spartans

NFL Growth  

It was only in the ’60s that professional football became the most watched in America, connected with the popularity of TV.

With the competition of the AFL (American Football League) and the continued increase in popularity, the NFL had to come up with a plan to insure its continued existence. It was in 1970 that the AFL and NFL merged and expanded the number of teams to 26 split between the two conferences. This also led to the Super Bowl format as we know it today. 

This is a picture of the fusion between NFL and AFL in 1970
NFL and AFL fusion

First Super Bowl

It was also during this time (1967) that the Super Bowl was created. This trophy consisted of the two best teams of each conference playing against each other to crown a champion. The first match was in the LA Memorial Coliseum with the Green Bay Packers beating the Kansas City Chiefs by 35‚Äď10 and taking the trophy home.

This is a picture of the free bay beating the Kansas City in the first super bowl match
Green Bay Packers vs Kansas City Chiefs

Some more interesting facts about American Football

  • Tom Brady has won the most Super Bowls, 7 in total.
  • The New England Patriots are the team with the most Super Bowl appearances, 11 in total.¬†
  • The Buffalo Bills are the team with the most consecutive losses, 4 in total.¬†
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots both have the most Super Bowl wins with 6 each

And this was our brief history of American football. If you liked this article you can also check our online sportsbook reviews to see which ones you find interesting.

About the Author

Jo√£o Pedro Freitas

Jo√£o Pedro Freitas has been working in online gambling since 2022, being the most recent addition to the team. He loves to write sports articles and likes to analyse all kinds of sports, especially soccer and UFC. Jo√£o focuses on writing content and creating strategies to ensure that the team is up to date on all Canadian and American sports.