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American Football History from the Beginning to Now

American /NFL Football History

Football, more commonly known as American football or simply ‘football’ in the United States, is the most popular sport in America today. It has its roots in English soccer, and it takes elements from other sports such as rugby, ice hockey and basketball. As with most sports in America, the first recorded game was played by students at Princeton University in 1869. Over the years, the game has grown to become an incredibly popular spectator sport throughout North America, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia.

American Football History from the Beginning to Now
American Football History from the Beginning to Now

The Ancient Sport

A long time ago, there was an ancient sport called ‘pall-mall.’ Basically, people would take a very small ball and hit it with a stick called a ‘mallet.’ This game became quite popular for socialization, but it had its drawbacks—namely that anyone could pick up the mallet and start playing with no real experience necessary.

The Ancient Sport

The history of American football begins in 1869 when Rutgers and Princeton faced off in a game called rugby. Unlike other sports, this one was played with an oval ball, which was typically flat. These rules were adopted and enforced by the founding members of the American football organization called Intercollegiate Association Football. The 1880s saw a lot of changes in how the game is played, with Harvard adopting strict ten-yard line rules so that games would not result in ties so often.

American Football History from the Beginning to Now
American Football History from the Beginning to Now

The Early Modern Era

At first, organized football games consisted of soccer played with an oval ball and sometimes a set of 11 men per team (rather than today’s usual 11-a-side). It was not until 1880 that rugby football began its existence in America. A man named Walter Camp is given credit for changing the American game from carrying to running, as well as introducing rule changes like awarding touchdowns and penalties. American football really started taking shape in late 1892 when The American Amateur Football Association was formed.

The Birth of College Football
Modern American football was born at a small liberal arts college in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The game’s first college game was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers College and Princeton University. Rutgers won that game by six goals to four. Modern American football has come a long way since its humble beginnings in a few New Jersey towns with only some minor rules being different than today.

Professional Leagues
The NFL is the most popular American football league in the world. There are 32 teams in this league that play a 16-game schedule, each team playing one game against every other team in its own division, four games against a couple teams in another division within its conference, and three games against some of the remaining teams in that conference.

College Championships
Ivy League schools have a long history in college football. The first title game between two teams from different schools was played in 1869, when Harvard beat Yale 4-0. In 1895, Columbia University became the fifth school ever to win a national championship and by 1897, football fever spread rapidly to other universities on both coasts of America. Brown’s team captured the Ivy League crown for its second consecutive season in 1902, edging out Harvard 9-6.

Super Bowl I, II, III & IV
Super Bowl I – Pittsburgh Steelers 47, Kansas City Chiefs 21; Super Bowl II – Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14; Super Bowl III – Miami Dolphins 24, Washington Redskins 7; Super Bowl IV – Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13.

Offensive Strategies in Today’s Game
Currently, in the NFL, a wide receiver typically lines up on the same side of the line of scrimmage as a tight end. This creates mismatches for both of these players because most defenders are stationed opposite of this wide receiver and linebacker. The defense has not had enough time to get over due to pre-snap motion on a hitch route or just trying to match a player up with an eligible receiver.

Defensive Strategies in Today’s Game
Defensive strategies in American football have changed greatly over time. Some common tactics are man coverage, zone coverage, or mixed coverage. Zone coverage is where defenders cover certain areas of the field such as zones on the sideline or underneath a receiver while each player has a certain type of route they cover. Man-coverage refers to defenders guarding their own specific assignment with no one else within their line of sight until the ball is thrown their way.

Watch NFL Games Online (and legally!)
There are various ways you can watch NFL games online. All of them, in one way or another, require subscriptions. The first option is NFL Sunday Ticket, an online TV package that costs $199 and gives you access to any game on the day it airs. Another option is a VPN service that allows you to mask your IP address and watch ESPN streams of Thursday Night Football.


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