NFL Origins: How Did the League Begin?

The National Football League is one of the world’s biggest and most successful sports leagues. It has origins dating back to 1920 when it was known as the American Professional Football Association. The league has gone through many changes over the years but has continued to thrive and grow. Today, NFL games are some of the most watched broadcasts in America. But how did it all begin? Let’s look at the NFL’s history and how it became such a powerhouse organization.

NFL Foundation & Creation

In 1920, a group of 13 men founded the National Football League with the goal of creating a professional American football league. The NFL’s first president was Jim Thorpe, a celebrated athlete who had won gold medals in the 1912 Olympic Games.

Other notable founding members included George Halas, who would go on to become one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, and Curly Lambeau, who would establish the Green Bay Packers as one of the league’s premier teams.

In its early years, the NFL faced stiff competition from another professional football league, the American Football League. However, the two leagues eventually merged in 1970, solidifying the NFL’s position as America’s preeminent professional football league.

The First NFL Games

The National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1920, and the first official game was played between the Rock Island Independents and the St. Paul Ideals on October 3, 1920. Since then, the NFL has undergone several changes, both in terms of rule changes and the structure of the league itself.

The early games were quite different from today’s games. For one thing, there were only eleven players on each side, as opposed to today’s standard of twenty-two. In addition, the field was much smaller, and there were no yard markers or end zones. The game was also played at a much slower pace, with fewer plays and less overall action.

However, the basic principles of the game were the same, including the NFL odds & lines, and the early NFL games laid the groundwork for the sport as we know it today.

NFL’s Evolution

The National Football League has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 1900s. Initially, the league was quite small, consisting of just a handful of teams. Over time, however, the NFL has grown exponentially, and it now includes 32 teams from all across the United States. The game itself has also evolved considerably over the years.

In the early days of the NFL, there were few rules, and players were often injured. Today, however, the game is much safer, thanks to a variety of rule changes that have been made to protect players.

The NFL has also become increasingly popular in recent years due largely to its exciting and suspenseful games. As the league continues to grow, it is likely that even more changes will be made in order to keep the game safe and enjoyable for all.

NFL’s Controversies

Controversies throughout its history have plagued the National Football League (NFL). Perhaps the most well-known scandal involved the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), which came to light in the early 2000s. Several high-profile players were suspended and fined for using banned substances, and the NFL was accused of turning a blind eye to the issue. In response, the league implemented stricter testing procedures and penalties for violators.

More recently, the NFL has been embroiled in a controversy over player safety, specifically concussions and other head injuries. Critics have accused the league of downplaying the risks associated with playing football, and some have even called for the sport to be banned altogether. The NFL has responded by introducing new rules designed to reduce the number of collisions, as well as enhanced protocols for diagnosing and treating concussions.

Despite these controversies, the NFL remains one of America’s most popular sports leagues.

NFL’s Significant Moments in History

Football is a sport with a long and storied history. Over the years, there have been many incredible moments that have captivated fans and shaped the league. Here are three of the most significant moments in NFL history.

  • First, there is the “Immaculate Reception.” This iconic play happened in 1972 during a playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. With the game tied and just seconds left on the clock, Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a desperate pass toward the end zone. An Oakland defender deflected the ball, but it was caught by Steelers running back Franco Harris, who then ran it into the end zone for the winning touchdown. The Immaculate Reception is often considered to be one of the most miraculous plays in NFL history.
  • Second, there is the “Sea of Hands” catch. This came during a playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders in 1974. With the score tied at 14 in the final minutes, Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese threw a pass into heavy traffic in the end zone. Miraculously, it was caught by wide receiver Clarence Davis for the winning touchdown. The catch became known as the “Sea of Hands” because of how many Raiders defenders were around Davis when he made it.
  • Finally, there is Super Bowl XLII, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest upsets in sports history. In this 2008 game, the underdog New York Giants defeated the heavily favored New England Patriots by a score of 17-14. The Patriots were chasing an undefeated season and had been dominant throughout the playoffs, but the Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NFL history to win their first Super Bowl since 1991.

These are just three of the many moments that have made NFL history so special.

NFL vs. Other Sports from Around the World

The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in the United States, with a fan base of millions of Americans. However, it is not the only professional football league in the world. In fact, there are dozens of professional football leagues around the world, from Europe to Asia to South America.

While the NFL may be the most popular and well-known football league, it is not necessarily the best. In terms of quality of play, the NFL is widely considered to be on par with other top professional football leagues, such as the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga. However, when it comes to player salaries and overall revenue, the NFL dwarfs other leagues.

For example, in 2020, the average NFL player’s salary was $2.7 million, while the average Premier League player’s salary was just $1.8 million. Similarly, the NFL generated $14 billion in revenue in 2020, while the Premier League generated $6.8 billion during the same period.

This discrepancy is largely due to the fact that football is by far the most popular sport in the United States, while it is just one of many popular sports in Europe and elsewhere. As a result, the NFL has been able to generate significantly more revenue than any other professional football league in the world.


The NFL is one of the world’s most popular professional sports leagues, with a rich history full of iconic moments. While it may not be the best football league in the world in terms of quality of play, it is far and away the most successful in terms of revenue. This is due to the fact that football is by far the most popular sport in the United States, giving the NFL a huge advantage over other professional football leagues around the world.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles