The NFL is the largest professional soccer league in the US, with 32 teams in two conferences. It was established in the 1920s as the American Professional Football Conference, later becoming the National Football League. The NFL gained popularity in the 1920s and 1940s, and the first commissioner was named in 1941. The NFL merged with the American Football League in 1969 and has since become a major television event, with Super Bowl XX being the highest-rated television show of any kind in 1986. The 1990s saw record-breaking pro football and ticket sales.
NFL stands for National Football League, the largest and longest running professional soccer league in the United States. The NFL consists of 32 teams, in two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The team that wins the AFC championship faces the NFC championship winner in the Super Bowl at the end of each season.
In the 1920s, it was determined that football required better organization and firm rules, to be seen as more professional. A league was established, which would later become the NFL. In the beginning, the league was called the American Professional Football Conference or APFC. Things were still uncertain and, later that year, the name was changed again to the American Professional Football Association, or APFA. The following year, the Association grew to 22 teams.
The Association was still marred by chaos, with eligibility requirements and other problems emerging. The league changed its name once again in 1922 to the National Football League, which is today’s NFL. Eventually they came up with a name that stuck.
It wasn’t until 1925 that the NFL garnered serious attention. On Thanksgiving Day 1925, the largest crowd ever gathered to watch a pro football game. The Chicago Bears faced the Chicago Cardinals, neither team putting points on the board. However, excitement was in the air and the NFL continued to gain more popularity. A few days later, the Bears went on the road, and when they faced the New York Giants, attendance nearly doubled that record-breaking first crowd.
In 1941, nearly twenty years after the NFL’s inception, the first commissioner was named, when the incumbent president resigned. The man’s name was Elmer Layden. A decade later, the NFL championship was seen on TV for the first time, coast to coast. Nearly ten years later, Pete Rozelle became the Commissioner of the NFL. The American Football League (AFL) has also arrived at the place. After the 1969 season, the AFL merged with the NFL.
The NFL learned it could once again have some competition in 1973 when the World Football League (WFL) was announced. However, any concerns about this development were unfounded. The WFL went bankrupt just two years later.
Super Bowl XVI made history on CBS in 1982 as the most-watched sports event ever, and a year later, the Super Bowl was the most-watched live event on television, for the tenth consecutive year. There was no question that the NFL had forever changed the way we watched television on Sundays, Monday nights and during a week in January. Any doubts that might have remained were cast aside in 1986, when Super Bowl XX became the highest-rated television show of any kind, with over 120,000,000 viewers. It is worth watching as the Chicago Bears beat the New England Patriots 46-10.
The 1990s were years filled with record-breaking pro football, and by the turn of the century, ticket sales records were broken as well. In 2000, there was a special reunion for the legends of the NFL Hall of Fame and over 100 of the greats were there to celebrate.