The Rise of the NFL

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The Akron Pros, 1920 Photo courtesy of wikipedia

By Brandon Gaddy

Senior Bobby Price says he has been watching football since he was born. Now he plays football and plans on playing college football for the Norfolk State Spartans in 2016-2017 season. He’s a big fan of the National Football League (NFL) and likes the New York Giants.

 “I was born and raised a New York Giants fan,” said Bobby Price.

According to the timeline on, in 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played the first college soccer football game. The game used modified London Football Association rules but over the next seven years rugby became more popular in the major Eastern schools than soccer. Then modern football started to develop from rugby. In 1876 the first set of rules for American football  were written by Walter Camp. He became known as the father of football.

In 1895, John Brailler became the first football player to turn professional.  He was paid $10 and expenses to play in Pennsylvania for the Latrobe YMCA against the Jeannette Athletic Club.

In 1898, touchdowns were changed from four points to five. Then in 1900 William C. Temple took over the team payments for the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club in Pennsylvania, becoming the first known individual owner of a team.

In 1920, pro football had three big problems: they really couldn’t raise salaries; players kept jumping from one team to another following the highest offer; and they used players who were still enrolled in college.  In 1924, the league had 18 franchises. League champion Canton, Ohio, was successful on the field but people weren’t coming to the games so they weren’t  making any money.  They were purchased by the owner of the Cleveland franchise, who kept the Canton franchise inactive, while using the best players for his Cleveland team, which he renamed the Bulldogs. Cleveland won the title with a 7-1-1.  

Professional football gained more popularity when the Bears played against the best college football players in the Chicago College All-Star Game on August 31, 1934. The game was so exciting and ended scoreless and there were 79,000 fans at the game.

Since the 1920s the NFL has had a big explosion with how many teams there are and the new technology for players and coaches, not to mention being on television. There are now 32 teams in the NFL. The first game was televised on NBC in 1939 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the 1950s it became more popular when the Los Angeles Rams and the Washington Redskins had all their games televised, and now the NFL has its own network.

Recently, the danger of concussions has been in the news.  In 1994, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee after the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. He appointed the New York Jets team doctor, rheumatologist Dr. Elliot Pellman, as chair even though he didn’t have any experience in brain science. In the last few years, concussions became really bad and now the NFL is trying to find a cure for them.

“It’s sad, but they are going to take care of it, and it’s obviously a problem because people have mental illness and stuff after they are done playing. So, I mean something needs to be done about it,” said Bobby Price.

This Sunday is the Super Bowl match-up between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.  No doubt, much of the country will be watching.

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The 2012 Pro Bowl Photo courtesy of

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