The History Of The NFL

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 23:30

The History of The NFL

Important historical stories about the NFL.

Ancient History

When I say 'ancient', I am referring to the most important happenings/developments in NFL history from the sixties (that's 19th century) up to the mid-20s (that's 20th century). It's going to be a long journey (read: narration), so let's start.

Year 1869: Princeton versus Rutgers, the first (ever) soccer game, they utilized adjusted London Football Association rules for this one.

Year 1876: first mechanics for US football were penned, and this happened in the Massasoit convention. The icon of American football, Walter Camp, first got involved in this sport.

Year 1893: Pittsburgh Athletic Club enlisted one player, most probably Grant Dibert to the very first pro contract.

Year 1896: Allegheny Athletic Association fielded the very first team composed purely of pros.

Year 1898: trivia lovers, note this down- the touchdown was modified from 4 points to 5.

Year 1902: The Philadelphia Athletics and the Phillies organized pro football squads. First World Series was done among a squad composed of players from both Phillies and the Athletics. Syracuse and New York did the first game held indoor before a crowd of three thousand.

Year 1904: field goal got changed from 5 to 4 points. Then, a lot of talk came about regarding the formation of a statewide league, so that fluctuating salaries would be put to an end. They attempted to have it, but did not succeed.

Year 1905: Canton AC (later on they would be the Bulldogs), turned into a pro team, oh yes, Massillon once more won the Ohio League crown.

Year 1906: Finally, the forward pass became legalized, and the very first pass completion in the pro sphere happened on October. Peggy Parratt dished out a completion to Dan Riley. Pernnial nemeses Massillon and Canton faced each other twie, Canton won the first, but Massillon took the other.

Year 1909: field goal got adjusted from 4 to 3.

Year 1919: The Ohio League Championship was clinched by Canton.

Year 1920: This was a crisis year in more ways than one, actually, due to 3 problems. Rising salaries, the athletes turning the football world into an auction by jumping from one squad to the next, following the most lucrative offer, and third problem- college players being used in the competitions.

The answer seemed to be a league where all members would be forced to adhere to uniform rules. A meeting where the Dayton Triangles, Cleveland Indians, Bulldogs, the Akron Pro were all represented happened. From this momentous congregation, the American Professional Football Conference was born.

Another meeting happened on Sept 17 at Canton, squads came from 4 states- Ohio, Clevelan, Canton and Akron. League's name was modified to "American Professional Football Association".

Year 1923: in an unprecedented development, all franchises part of the NFL let out their own squads. Versus the Bears, Thorpe did a fumble, Halas got the ball, returned that 98- yes that's 98- yards for one incredible touchdown, don't take my word for it, you can look it up.

That record would stand until 1972, impressive isn't it?

Year 1924: at this point in history, league had eighteen franchises, new ones were from Kenosha, Kansas City and still others.

Year 1925: New franchises (five) made their presence felt and they were- New York Giants, Detroit Panthers, Providence Steam Roller, a new Canton Bulldogs squad and the Pottsville Maroons. NFL mandated a player limit- sixteen.

NFL accomplished the greatest "achievement" in the way of fame. Red Grange was acquired by the Chicago Bulls, ehr...Bears I mean, and on Thanksgiving Day, in front of 36 thousand people, the Bears did battle with the Cardinals. Two things that made this game very memorable: first, it was a scoreless tie. Second, the number of spectators was the biggest in history (at that year, that was).

Chicago Cardinals and the Pottsville were the strongest contenders for the ultimate crown, Pottsville won a tail-season.


Modern History

Let me say this, "modern" here is defined as the 70s and the 80s, yes...20th century. During these decades, NFL strengthened its monopoly as the country's top spectator sports, not to mention its role in the lifestyle of Americans. Super Bowl turned into a holiday (unofficial), and when I say holiday, I am saying it seriously. Changes in some rules during the late seventies allowed for a quicker-paced contest, with much passing and this turned the sport into a more exciting affair.

Founding of United States Football League (1980s) served as the biggest roadblock to NFL, this in the post-merger years.     USFL was a moneyed competitor, and it had bigshot players, plus an agreement with the national TV. Still, the USFL did not earn and it folded after just a few years, but that was not the end of the story. USFL lodged an anti-trust lawsuit versus the NFL. That lawsuit was a victory, or failure, all depending on the kind of mindset you have.

Over the recent years, NFL branched out into uncharted and new waters. It was in 1986 when the league started holding a set of preseason exhibition contests, and they were called American Bowls. They were done in international places abroad, and in 1991, the World League of American Football was born. It would later be called NFL Europe, then NFL Europa.

NFL played a game at the turf of Mexico City just 3 years ago (now, this is really modern). Last year, a regular season contest was done between the Dolphins and the Giants, held outside North America, and this particular game happened at the Wembley Stadium. In terms of finances/earnings, to call it a monumental success is not an exaggeration. Close to forty thousand tickets got sold in a matter of (less than) 2 hours. The gameday attendance reached more than eighty thousand.

On the Numbers

This, I've included because I think this would interest at the very least 3 kinds of groups: the trivia buffs, the history buffs and the number-fixated individuals. That last group, I suppose that includes those people who are superstitious enough to fear going out of the house on a Friday the 13th. If you do not think you belong to any of these three kinds, you can skip this part, I don't think you'll miss much..but hey, I can be wrong. You might miss something crucial, at the very least, a dinner converstion piece.

Let me just discuss a bit on uniforms' numbers, players wear numbers based on the position he is holding. Present system was integrated to the system in 1973, this to make sure that the officials/fans would be able to identify who was who.

Just to give some of the assignations: Quaterbacks/punters/placekickers: 1 to 19; wide receivers: 10 to 19 and 80 to 89; offensive linemen: 50 to 79; dfensive linemen: 60 to 79 and 90 to 99.

Before 2004, the wide receivers were permitted to don only digits 80 to 89, and the league modified the rule on that year, to permit the said players to have numbers ten to nineteen. This permitted the increased number of such players/prospective players joining the ranks of the athletes.

Every once in a while, athletes would petition the league's top honchos to permit them to don a number not in accordance with the mandates. Like, Brad Pelt, this linebacker who joined the league in 1973, donned number TEN in eleven seasons with his squad. Two years ago, New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush asked the NFL to allow him to maintain number five. The request was turned down, in case you are wondering.

Ex-Seahawks' pride Brian Bosworth petitioned (1987) that he be allowed the number 44 for the lineback position, again, turned down. Seahawks tried to do some ingenious maneuvering, by listing him as safety, but then, when he donned the 44 in a game, officials declared that he would have to go back to the initial number, that's 55 for him.