The game of football came as a cross between two other games, soccer and rugby.
The first game was played between Princeton and Rutgers on November 6, 1869. There were 25 players on each team. Players could not touch the ball, on the kick it (fotballreiser). The first game was basically soccer. They had to make a goal. Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4.
In 1873, Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers and Yale met to formalize rules of the game. Harvard wouldn’t attend, they liked their rugby way of playing, so they kept playing Canadian teams that played similarly. Harvard eventually won over the other schools. They agreed to play Harvard way. So, they all met to set rules.
Walter Camp, a student and football player at Yale from 1876 to 1882 became a fixture at rules conventions. In 1880, the rules committee adopted his rule changes.
They established the exchange between the quarterback and center, the line of scrimmage, the concept of set plays and agreed on the point system being six points for a touchdown and three points for a field goal. They also changed the number of players to 11 per team.
After graduation, Camp continued to coach the football team at Yale and regularly attended rules conventions until his death.
Over time the game became very violent. In 1905, there were 149 serious injuries with 18 deaths (fotballreiser Liverpool). It was apparent that action had to be taken. The Intercollege Athletic Association of the United States was formed. Just four years later, it became the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which still governs college sports today.
The NCAA opened up the game to be more about skill and speed than strength and force. The forward pass was now allowed.
The national league’s early years were very unorganized. George Halas grew up in Chicago, played football at University of IL. He served in the Navy during World War I. After the war, he was hired to run Decatur’s team. Ownership was handed over to him and he moved the team to Chicago. In 1922, he changed their name to the Chicago Bears. On that same day, the American Professional Football Association changed their name also to the National Football League.
After the 1932 season, the NFL had two major updates. Three rule changes and a championship postseason game. The league split into two divisions in the 1933 season.
In 1934, the ball itself made a transformation. They began to record stats. In 1936, the NFL draft began.
With the war going on, a few innovations were made in the 1940s. The only major thing was players began playing either offense or defense, not both.
CBS broadcasted a few regular season games, but it was the NFL championship game, known as the “Greatest Game Ever Played” in 1958 that catapulted the NFL.
In 1986, the NFL had replaced baseball as America’s most popular sport. Over 17 million fans poured through NFL stadium gates.
By 1999 Super Bowl, the TV ratings topped the season finale of MASH, which held the top watched ranking for 35 years. The game was watched by an average 106.5 million people.
In 2010, 18 of the 32 teams raised ticket prices to an average $75 per ticket. Even the middle class fans are being priced out.