The National Football League is the hugest, most popular sports league in the country. The establishment of the NFL completely revolutionized the American sport experience for fans and athletes alike. Before the NFL, there was no national football conference bringing together competitive teams from across the country; there were only area-localized professional leagues. The NFL brought together athletes and professional from across the country for the first time.
The NFL was originally formulated in 1920, under the title ‘American Professional Football Conference.’ Jim Thorpe, who was previously an Olympic competitor, developed the idea with several well-known football coaches, athletes and team owners. The original roster only included eleven teams from the states of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and Indiana. Over the next few years, other teams attempted to join, but these dozen or so teams didn’t often finish the season. The first NFL championship conference winners were the unrivaled Akron Pros from Ohio.
For about ten years since its first game, the NFL fluctuated in strength, until it began to soar in the 1930s. New teams from larger cities along the east coast were joining in with the national league. Teams soon began drafting college players and eventually incorporated multiracial teams, though segregation was an issue for several decades. By the end of World War II, the NFL was capturing the attention of teams, players and average citizens from across the United States. In 1966, the NFL hosted the very first Super Bowl, won by the famous Green Bay Packers. The league further established its dominance in the sporting world by merging with its only significant competitor in 1970 – the widely popular American Football League (AFL). Since then, NFL sporting events have been the most popular of any other professional sport.
The NFL has hosted tens of thousands of games and included hundreds of teams over the years. However, the NFL dream was almost crushed in the 1980s. During this time, a rival professional football team – known as the United States Football League – posed a serious competitor to the NFL. However, the National Football League survived the competition and lives on today as America’s number one football league.
The future is bright for the NFL. In the early 2000s, the NFL expanded to include an international program, incorporating teams in Mexico, Europe and Canada. It is one of the most successful, impressive sporting leagues in the entire country.