History of the NFL - When was it founded?

History of the NFL - When was it founded?

On this page we’ll provide you with decisive moments of the 100 year history of the NFL and give insight into how the league was first founded. What's made the National Football League to one of the most followed sports leagues in the world and how has it became such a massive brand ranked as the wealthiest sporting organization in the US.

When did the NFL start?

The NFL was first played back in 1920 after a meeting between a number of representatives from four different teams. A plan to create a professional football league arose as a result of a collective determination to increase the professionalism around US football and strengthen the team's position in order to secure players' services without risking losing them to rival sides.

Only a few months after the first meeting was held, the first signs of a new league was reality. The name of the league was American Professional Football Association (APFA) and it featured 14 teams:

Akron Pros, Decatur Staleys, Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Cardinals, Rock Island Independents, Dayton Triangles, Rochester Jeffersons, Canton Bulldogs, Detroit Heralds, Cleveland Tigers, Chicago Tigers, Hammond Pros, Columbus Panhandles, Muncie Flyers

Of the 14 teams above only two sides are still playing and featuring in the NFL, the Decatur Staleys (Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (Arizona Cardinals).

What is the oldest NFL team?

At this time, the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest team to still be playing in the NFL having been founded already in 1898 as the Chicago Cardinals. The team has been located in three different cities during its history: Chicago, St. Louis and Arizona.

What is the newest NFL team?

The latest expansion team to join the NFL is the Houston Texans who was founded in 2002. Since then, the Texans have never managed to reach the conference championship round and only reached the divisional round on four occasions.

Who won the first ever NFL season?

The first ever NFL season, played in 1920, was won by the Akron Pros. However, the standings from the 1920 season was not officially being tracked and the sides played a number of games against non-league sides during the season as well. The following year was the first season when a record table was used and it ended with a campaign victory by the Chicago Staleys.

During its first seasons, between 1920 and 1932, the NFL had no set number of games for the teams. Instead, the teams had a minimum number of games that they had to play each season but with no upper limit.  

Its current format with post-season playoffs followed by the Super Bowl has been used since the 1966 season. The first team to ever win a Super Bowl was the Green Bay Packers who went on to win two consecutive Super Bowl trophies before the New York Jets won it in 1968.

When was the first Super Bowl game played?

The first Super Bowl to ever be played was in the 1966 season. The NFL had rapidly started to increase in popularity and the attendance at the games was growing each season. It was around this time when the organization started to create the playoff-format in an attempt to merge the NFL and its rivaling league, the American Football League (AFL).

When the two leagues merged and became what we know as the NFL, it was further divided into two conferences, the NFC and the AFC. Each conference consisted of three divisions at this time but would later expand to four divisions as the number of teams were increased to 32 in 2002. Between 2002 and 2020 the number of teams featuring in the playoffs was 12, including 2 wildcards from each conference. In 2020 when the league expanded its playoff to include 14 teams, the number of wildcard teams was increased by 2.

Who won the first Super Bowl game?

The first team to ever win the Super Bowl was the Green Bay Packers who managed to win two consecutive titles in 1967 and 1968. At this time the NFL was still separated from the AFL and the Super Bowl game between the winners of the two leagues was commonly known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

In 1970 when the two leagues had merged and become the NFL as we’re used to, the Baltimore Colts laid their hands on the Super Bowl V. Following that season, teams from the AFC would go on and win 8 out of 10 Super Bowl games before the NFC conference came back strongly in the mid 80’s with a 10+ year long record of Super Bowl wins.

As of today the NFC vs AFC record when it comes to Super Bowl trophies is close to evenly matched with only a couple of victories keeping the two conferences apart. In recent years the Super Bowl winners have been varying without any clear dominance from any of the two conferences.

What teams have never won the Super Bowl?

Despite being played for more than 50 years, there’re still NFL sides who have never managed to win the Super Bowl trophy. There are currently 12 teams who never won the championship, 4 of them never even reached the Super Bowl. The four teams that have never played a Super Bowl game are the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. The Browns and the Lions have, however, won the previous NFL championship on a number of occasions.

The 12 sides that have currently never won the Super Bowl, though they have featured in the game, are (number of appearances): Minnesota Vikings (4), Buffalo Bills (4), Cincinnati Bengals (3), Carolina Panthers (2), Atlanta Falcons (2), Los Angeles Chargers (1), Tennessee Titans (1), Arizona Cardinals (1)

What player has played the most NFL games?

Morten Andersen is the player who has played the most NFL games in history with 382 games to his name. Andersen was born in Denmark, played as a placekicker and is mostly remembered for his services with the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. He was active in the NFL between 1982 and 2007, recording 25 seasons. As a result of his impressive records he’s commonly referred to as the Great Dane.