The American Professional Football Association was created in 1920 with 11 founding teams; it wasn't until two years later that the name was streamlined to the National Football League. The NFL dominates the American sports scene with a seventeen week schedule that eventually leaves only two teams to face off in the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the current defending champions of the Super Bowl title.
The teams in the National Football League are split into two divisions; the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. Games are televised on various networks as well as the official National Football League Network. For international fans, some games are available via satellite feeds and with partnership ESPN networks. Team arenas are hotspots of activity; tailgating is the official term given to the fan sponsored events that take place in the parking lots. Fans of NFL teams generate an estimated 240 million dollars a year in ticket gate sales, merchandise and cable broadcast packages.
Outside of the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft is one of the most watched televised sporting events. The NFL Draft is the selection process used to sign new players to teams, most of which are the result of talent scout reports from colleges. Most commonly referred to as "The Draft", it is the first major NFL event of the season. It precedes training camp and the preseason NFL games with national news teams and reporting agencies covering every round.
Corporate sponsorship plays a huge part in the National Football league. From the naming of stadiums to marketing rights, companies like Gillette, Heinz, Federal Express and Qualcomm have secured their place in football history. This also provides them with an endless amount of free publicity as well as the ability to have their names and logos on items that are handed out during fan appreciation events. While some fans see corporate sponsorship as a negative it removes some of the financial burden of maintenance and advertising from team owners.
NFL players are some of the most highly compensated athletes in the world. They play fewer games than the National Hockey League or Major League Baseball but have contracts that can exceed ten million dollars. The salary cap was implemented to give all teams a fair chance to create the best roster possible without one team having a financial advantage. There have been some violations of the salary cap in the past in the form of outside or signing bonuses, real estate purchases, vehicle purchases and regional advertisement endorsements.
One of the biggest money makers for the National Football League are the commercial spots that air during the Super Bowl. This past season the cost of a thirty second commercial was 2.6 million dollars. What companies are willing to pay that price? Federal Express, Gatorade, Coca Cola, E-Trade, Miller and HULU are just a few advertising giants that have paid for the much coveted spots. With an international audience of millions, it is often the marketplace where corporations choose to debut new services, products or cleverly crafted commercial adverts.
Players in the National Football League are not impervious to scandal. Everything from domestic violence and dog fighting to steroid use and abuse have surfaced over the past few years. Even so, fan loyalty is at its highest with ticket sales exceeding previous years and merchandise revenue continually increasing with each NFL season. The recent change to the NFL logo also meant an increase in sales of football jerseys, outerwear and themed products.
For an hour of playing time, the two teams are locked in a brutal test of physical endurance and strategy, attempting to outscore the other in a match of intense choreography. This rigorous schedule continues for 17 weeks, and, if a team does particularly well, they will advance to a coveted playoff berth in a single elimination tournament to determine just who the world champion will be. This is the American sport of NFL football. Are you ready for some football?
Started in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, itís name was changed to what we know as the National Football League in 1922. The NFL is split into two separate conferences, the National Football Conference, and the American Football Conference. Each conference consists of 16 teams, split into 4 divisions of 4 teams each. The top 6 teams at the end of the normal 17 week season, are placed in playoff berths to battle for the title of Super Bowl Champions in a highly supported season lasting from early September to the first part of February.
Each team rosters a minimum of 46 players, and a maximum of 53 per game. These players are specialized team members, each with their own individual part to play in an intensely researched strategy, made up of the offense, the defense, and the special team. At any given time, only 11 players are allowed on the field of play to carry out the game plan.
The offense is led by a quarterback, whose responsibility it is to read the other teamís intentions, select and alter, if necessary the current strategy play to advance the ball into the other teams end zone for a touchdown, which is worth 6 points. Upon the scoring of a touchdown, the scoring team is given the opportunity to score either 1 or 2 more points, and, in a close game, may opt to go for 2 to advance their lead or catch up, depending on where they are on the scoreboard. The ball may be advanced on the ground by a running back, or in the air to a receiver.
The role of the defense is simple. Prevent the other team from getting to the end zone, and, if possible, take the ball away during play to give your team a chance to score.
Special teams are called up whenever a special situation arises. They are the ones that handle kickoffs, extra points, kickoff returns, and field goals, which are worth 3 points.
Any Saturday, Sunday, or Monday night across America, you can find NFL football on the television as the rivalries are publicized, and the heroes of American sports pit themselves in a vigorous crawl to the Super Bowl. Two games are also played annually, always featuring the teams from Detroit, the Lions, and Dallas, the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day.
Although baseball is the official national pastime of our great country, football surpassed baseball in popularity according to polls back in 1973, and the NFL is at the spearhead of that effort, ensuring that American football remains the most popular sport in the United States.