When Did The NFL Begin?

A look at the history of the National Football League, from its humble beginnings in the late 1800s to its present status as America’s most popular sport.

The Early Years

The National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) with ten teams from four states. Jim Thorpe was the first president of the league. The first game was played on October 3, 1920, between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles in Dayton, Ohio.

The First Game

The first professional football game was played on November 12, 1892, between the Allegheny Athletic Association and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. AA won 6-0. William Heffelfinger of Yale was paid $500 to play for AA. (AA later became the Pittsburgh Steelers).

The First League
In 1920, the American Professional Football Association was formed. The APFA had 14 teams. This league would eventually become the NFL. 1920 is considered the first year of the NFL. The APFA changed its name to National Football League in 1922.

The First Season

In 1920, the American Professional Football Association was founded in Canton, Ohio. The Association was created by Jim Thorpe and several other Midwestern pro football pioneers. The first official game was played on September 26, 1920, in Dayton, Ohio. The association began with eleven teams: the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, Hammond Pros, Massillon Tigers, Muncie Flyers, Racine Cardinals (now the Chicago Cardinals), Rochester Jeffersons and Rock Island Independents. Thorpe served as the APFA’s first president.

On October 3rd of that same year- just a week after the first set of games were played- representatives from four of those eleven teams- the Bulldoggin Akron Pros (who were undefeated at this point), the Decatur Staleys (who only had one loss), the Racine Cardinals (who also only had one loss), and the Canton Bulldogs met up in a Hupmobile dealership in Canton to discuss standardizing player salaries and how to get rid of that pesky problem of players jumping from team to team in order to make more money. George Halas (owner of the Decatur Staleys) suggested that a salary cap be put into place and $100 be set as the limit for each player per game.

The group also unanimously voted to change the name of the league to something a bit more fitting than “American Professional Football Association”. The name “National Football League” was selected and thusly became official on December 14th, 1920.

The Modern Era

The National Football League (NFL) began in 1920 with eleven teams. The league has grown to its current size of 32 teams. The NFL has undergone many changes since its inception, including the addition of new teams, divisions, and conferences. The most recent change was the addition of the Houston Texans in 2002.

The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the biggest and most important American football game of the year. It is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game is played between the winners of the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference). The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967. The Green Bay Packers (NFC) beat the Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) by a score of 35-10.

The NFL Today

In the modern era, the National Football League (NFL) is the most popular professional American football league, consisting of 32 teams divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, which also includes Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL).

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