American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron,[nb 1] is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sports of association football (known in the U.S. as soccer) and rugby football. The first match of American football was played on November 6, 1869, between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules based on the association football rules of the time. During the latter half of the 1870s, colleges playing association football switched to the Rugby Union code, which allowed carrying the ball. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, the line of scrimmage, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs; later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone, and specified the size and shape of the football. The sport is closely related to Canadian football, which evolved parallel and contemporary to the American game, and most of the features that distinguish American football from rugby and soccer are also present in Canadian football.
American football as a whole is the most popular sport in the United States. The most popular forms of the game are professional and college football, with the other major levels being high school and youth football. As of 2012, nearly 1.1 million high school athletes and 70,000 college athletes play the sport in the United States annually, almost all of them men, with a few exceptions. The National Football League, the most popular American football league, has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world; its championship game, the Super Bowl, ranks among the most-watched club sporting events in the world, and the league has an annual revenue of around US$10 billion.
|Highest governing body||IFAF|
|First played||November 6, 1869|
New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
(Princeton vs. Rutgers)
|Team members||11 (both teams may freely substitute players between downs)|
|Venue||Football field (rectangular: 120 yards long, 53 1/3 yards wide)|
|Glossary||Glossary of American football|
|Country or region||Worldwide (most prominent in North America, Europe, and Japan)|
|Olympic||No (demonstrated at the 1932 Summer Olympics)|
|World Games||Yes (invitational sport at 2005 and 2017 Games).|
In the United States, American Football is called "football". The terms "gridiron" or "American football" are favored in English-speaking countries where other codes of football are popular, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.
American football evolved from the sports of association football (soccer) and rugby football. Rugby football, like American football, is a sport where two competing teams vie for control of a ball, which can be kicked through a set of goalposts or run into the opponent's goal area to score points.
What is considered to be the first American football game was played on November 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton, two college teams. The game was played between two teams of 25 players each and used a round ball that could not be picked up or carried. It could, however, be kicked or batted with the feet, hands, head or sides, with the ultimate goal being to advance it into the opponent's goal. Rutgers won the game 6 goals to 4. Collegiate play continued for several years in which matches were played using the rules of the host school. Representatives of Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Rutgers met on October 19, 1873 to create a standard set of rules for all schools to adhere to. Teams were set at 20 players each, and fields of 400 by 250 feet (122 m × 76 m) were specified. Harvard abstained from the conference, as they favored a rugby-style game that allowed running with the ball. After playing McGill University using both Canadian and American rules, the Harvard players preferred the Canadian style having only 11 men on the field, running the ball without having to be chased by an opponent, the forward pass, tackling, and using an oblong instead of a round ball.
An 1875 Harvard–Yale game played under rugby-style rules was observed by two impressed Princeton athletes. These players introduced the sport to Princeton, a feat the Professional Football Researchers Association compared to "selling refrigerators to Eskimos." Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Columbia then agreed to intercollegiate play using a form of rugby union rules with a modified scoring system. These schools formed the Intercollegiate Football Association, although Yale did not join until 1879. Yale player Walter Camp, now regarded as the "Father of American Football", secured rule changes in 1880 that reduced the size of each team from 15 to 11 players and instituted the snap to replace the chaotic and inconsistent scrum.
The introduction of the snap resulted in unexpected consequences. Prior to the snap, the strategy had been to punt if a scrum resulted in bad field position. However, a group of Princeton players realized that, as the snap was uncontested, they now could hold the ball indefinitely to prevent their opponent from scoring. In 1881, both teams in a game between Yale-Princeton used this strategy to maintain their undefeated records. Each team held the ball, gaining no ground, for an entire half, resulting in a 0–0 tie. This "block game" proved extremely unpopular with the spectators and fans of both teams.
A rule change was necessary to prevent this strategy from taking hold, and a reversion to the scrum was considered. However, Camp successfully proposed a rule in 1882 that limited each team to three downs, or tackles, to advance the ball five yards. Failure to advance the ball the required distance within those three downs would result in control of the ball being forfeited to the other team. This change effectively made American football a separate sport from rugby, and the resulting five-yard lines added to the field to measure distances made it resemble a gridiron in appearance. Other major rule changes included a reduction of the field size to 110 by 53 1⁄3 yards (100.6 m × 48.8 m), and the adoption of a scoring system that awarded four points for a touchdown, two for a safety and a goal following a touchdown, and five for a goal from field; additionally, tackling below the waist was legalized. The scrum was also replaced by a "line of scrimmage", which gave one team uncontested possession of the ball. The last, and arguably most important innovation, which would at last make American football uniquely "American", was the legalization of interference, or blocking, a tactic which was highly illegal under the rugby-style rules.
Despite these new rules, football remained a violent sport. Dangerous mass-formations, which involved interlocking interference, like the flying wedge resulted in serious injuries and deaths. A 1905 peak of 19 fatalities nationwide resulted in a threat by President Theodore Roosevelt to abolish the game unless major changes were made. In response, 62 colleges and universities met in New York City to discuss rule changes on December 28, 1905, and these proceedings resulted in the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The legal forward pass was introduced in 1906, although its impact was initially limited due to the restrictions placed on its use. Other rule changes introduced that year included the reduction of the time of play from 70 to 60 minutes and the increase of the distance required for a first down from 5 to 10 yards (4.6 to 9.1 m). To reduce infighting and dirty play between teams, the neutral zone was created along the width of the football. Scoring was also adjusted: field goals were lowered to three points in 1909 and touchdowns were raised to six points in 1912. The field was also reduced to 100 yards (91 m) long, but two 10-yard-long (9.1 m) end zones were created, and teams were given four downs instead of three to advance the ball 10 yards (9.1 m). The roughing the passer penalty was implemented in 1914, and eligible players were first allowed to catch the ball anywhere on the field in 1918.
On November 12, 1892, William "Pudge" Heffelfinger was paid $500 to play a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association in a match against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. This is the first recorded instance of a player being paid to participate in a game of American football, although many athletic clubs in the 1880s offered indirect benefits, such as helping players attain employment, giving out trophies or watches that players could pawn for money, or paying double in expense money. Despite these extra benefits, the game had a strict sense of amateurism at the time, and direct payment to players was frowned upon, if not outright prohibited.
Over time, professional play became increasingly common, and with it came rising salaries and unpredictable player movement, as well as the illegal payment of college players who were still in school. The National Football League (NFL), a group of professional teams that was originally established in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, aimed to solve these problems. This new league's stated goals included an end to bidding wars over players, prevention of the use of college players, and abolition of the practice of paying players to leave another team. By 1922, the NFL had established itself as the premier professional football league.
The dominant form of football at the time was played at the collegiate level, but the upstart NFL received a boost to its legitimacy in 1925 when an NFL team, the Pottsville Maroons, defeated a team of Notre Dame all-stars in an exhibition game. A greater emphasis on the passing game helped professional football to further distinguish itself from the college game during the late 1930s. Football in general became increasingly popular following the 1958 NFL Championship game, a match between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants that is still referred to as the "Greatest Game Ever Played". The game, a 23–17 overtime victory by the Colts, was seen by millions of television viewers and had a major impact on the popularity of the sport. This, along with the innovations introduced by the new American Football League (AFL) in the early 1960s, helped football to become the most popular sport in the United States by the mid-1960s.
The rival AFL arose in 1960 and challenged the NFL's dominance. The AFL began in relative obscurity but eventually thrived, with an initial television contract with the ABC network. The AFL's existence forced the conservative NFL to expand to Dallas and Minnesota in an attempt to destroy the new league. Meanwhile, the AFL introduced many new features to Professional Football in the United States: official time on the scoreboard clock, rather than on a watch in the referee's pocket, as the NFL did; optional two-point conversions by pass or run after touchdowns; names on the jerseys of players; and several others, including expansion of the role of minority players, actively recruited by the league in contrast to the NFL. The AFL also signed several star college players that had also been drafted by NFL teams. Competition for players heated up in 1965, when the AFL New York Jets signed rookie Joe Namath to a then-record $437,000 contract (equivalent to $2.71 million in 2018). A five-year, $40 million (equivalent to $2.48 billion in 2018) NBC television contract followed, which helped to sustain the young league. The bidding war for players ended in 1966, when NFL owners approached the AFL regarding a merger, and the two leagues agreed on one that would take full effect in 1970. This agreement provided for a common draft that would take place each year, and it instituted an annual World Championship game to be played between the champions of each league. That game began play at the end of the 1966 season. Once the merger was completed, it was no longer a championship game between two leagues, and reverted to the NFL championship game, which came to be known as the Super Bowl.
College football maintained a tradition of postseason bowl games. Each bowl game would be associated with a particular conference, and earning a spot in a bowl game was the reward for winning a conference. This arrangement was profitable, but it tended to prevent the two top-ranked teams from meeting in a true national championship game, as they would normally be committed to the bowl games of their respective conferences. Several systems have been used since 1992 to determine a national champion of college football. The first was the Bowl Coalition, in place from 1992 to 1994. This was replaced in 1995 by the Bowl Alliance, which gave way in 1997 to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The BCS arrangement proved to be controversial, and was replaced in 2014 by the College Football Playoff (CFP).
A football game is played between two teams of 11 players each. Playing with more on the field is punishable by a penalty. Teams may substitute any number of their players between downs; this "platoon" system replaced the original system, which featured limited substitution rules, and has resulted in teams utilizing specialized offensive, defensive and special teams squads.
Individual players in a football game must be designated with a uniform number between 1 and 99. NFL teams are required to number their players by a league-approved numbering system, and any exceptions must be approved by the Commissioner. NCAA and NFHS teams are "strongly advised" to number their offensive players according to a league-suggested numbering scheme.
The offensive team must line up in a legal formation before they can snap the ball. An offensive formation is considered illegal if there are more than four players in the backfield or fewer than five players numbered 50–79 on the offensive line. Players can temporarily line up in a position whose eligibility is different from what their number permits as long as they immediately report the change to the referee, who then informs the defensive team of the change. Neither team's players, with the exception of the snapper, are allowed to line up in or cross the neutral zone until the ball is snapped. Interior offensive linemen are not allowed to move until the snap of the ball.
The main backfield positions are the quarterback (QB), halfback/tailback (HB/TB) and fullback (FB). The quarterback is the leader of the offense. Either the quarterback or a coach calls the plays. Quarterbacks typically inform the rest of the offense of the play in the huddle before the team lines up. The quarterback lines up behind the center to take the snap and then hands the ball off, throws it or runs with it.
The primary role of the halfback, also known as the running back or tailback, is to carry the ball on running plays. Halfbacks may also serve as receivers. Fullbacks tend to be larger than halfbacks and function primarily as blockers, but they are sometimes used as runners in short-yardage situations and are seldom used in passing situations.
The offensive line (OL) consists of several players whose primary function is to block members of the defensive line from tackling the ball carrier on running plays or sacking the quarterback on passing plays. The leader of the offensive line is the center (C), who is responsible for snapping the ball to the quarterback, blocking, and for making sure that the other linemen do their jobs during the play. On either side of the center are the guards (G), while tackles (T) line up outside the guards.
The principal receivers are the wide receivers (WR) and the tight ends (TE). Wide receivers line up on or near the line of scrimmage, split outside the line. The main goal of the wide receiver is to catch passes thrown by the quarterback, but they may also function as decoys or as blockers during running plays. Tight ends line up outside the tackles and function both as receivers and as blockers.
The defensive line (DL) consists of defensive ends (DE) and defensive tackles (DT). Defensive ends line up on the ends of the line, while defensive tackles line up inside, between the defensive ends. The primary responsibilities of defensive ends and defensive tackles is to stop running plays on the outside and inside, respectively, to pressure the quarterback on passing plays, and to occupy the line so that the linebackers can break through.
Linebackers line up behind the defensive line but in front of the defensive backfield. They are divided into two types: middle linebackers (MLB) and outside linebackers (OLB). Linebackers are the defensive leaders and call the defensive plays. Their diverse roles include defending the run, pressuring the quarterback, and guarding backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the passing game.
The defensive backfield, often called the secondary, consists of cornerbacks (CB) and safeties (S). Safeties are themselves divided into free safeties (FS) and strong safeties (SS). Cornerbacks line up outside the defensive formation, typically opposite of a receiver so as to be able to cover him, while safeties line up between the cornerbacks but farther back in the secondary. Safeties are the last line of defense, and are responsible for stopping deep passing plays as well as running plays.
The special teams unit is responsible for all kicking plays. The special teams unit of the team in control of the ball will try to execute field goal (FG) attempts, punts and kickoffs, while the opposing team's unit will aim to block or return them.
Three positions are specific to the field goal and PAT (point-after-touchdown) unit: the placekicker (K or PK), holder (H) and long snapper (LS). The long snapper's job is to snap the football to the holder, who will catch and position it for the placekicker. There is not usually a holder on kickoffs, because the ball is kicked off of a tee; however, a holder may be used in certain situations, such as if wind is preventing the ball from remaining upright on the tee. The player on the receiving team who catches the ball is known as the kickoff returner (KR).
The positions specific to punt plays are the punter (P), long snapper, upback and gunner. The long snapper snaps the football directly to the punter, who then drops and kicks it before it hits the ground. Gunners line up split outside the line and race down the field, aiming to tackle the punt returner (PR) – the player that catches the punt. Upbacks line up a short distance behind the line of scrimmage, providing additional protection to the punter.
In American football, the winner is the team that has scored more points at the end of the game. There are multiple ways to score in a football game.
The touchdown (TD), worth six points, is the most valuable scoring play in American football. A touchdown is scored when a live ball is advanced into, caught in, or recovered in the end zone of the opposing team. The scoring team then attempts a try or conversion, more commonly known as the point(s)-after-touchdown (PAT), which is a single scoring opportunity.
A PAT is most commonly attempted from the two- or three-yard line, depending on the level of play. If scored by a placekick or dropkick through the goal posts, it is worth one point, and is typically called the extra point. Conversely, a team may elect to run a single play from scrimmage and attempt, once again, to achieve what would normally be considered a touchdown. In such a case, a successful attempt is called the two-point conversion and is worth two points. For the 2015 season, the NFL adopted rules on PATs that stated during an extra point the placekick must be snapped from the 15-yard line and on extra points if the kick is blocked and the opposing team returns it into the end zone or if during a two-point conversion the ball is fumbled or intercepted and returned to the end zone the opposing team will score two points. No points are awarded on a failed extra point or two-point conversion attempt, although under a rare set of circumstances it is possible to score a safety, worth one point, if the defense takes the ball back into its own end zone and is downed there. In general, the extra point is almost always successful in professional play and is only slightly less successful at amateur levels, while the two-point conversion is a much riskier play with a higher probability of failure; accordingly, extra point attempts are far more common than two-point conversion attempts.
A field goal (FG), worth three points, is scored when the ball is placekicked or dropkicked through the uprights and over the crossbars of the defense's goalposts. After a PAT attempt or successful field goal the scoring team must kick the ball off to the other team.
A safety is scored when the ball carrier is tackled in their own end zone. Safeties are worth two points, which are awarded to the defense. In addition, the team that conceded the safety must kick the ball to the scoring team via a free kick.
Football games are played on a rectangular field that measures 120 yards (110 m) long and 53 1⁄3 yards (48.8 m) wide. Lines marked along the ends and sides of the field are known respectively as the end lines and sidelines, and goal lines are marked 10 yards (9.1 m) inward from each end line. Weighted pylons are placed on the inside corner of the intersections of the goal lines and end lines.
White markings on the field identify the distance from the end zone. Inbound lines, or hash marks, are short parallel lines that mark off 1-yard (0.91 m) increments. Yard lines, which can run the width of the field, are marked every 5 yards (4.6 m). A one-yard-wide line is placed at each end of the field; this line is marked at the center of the two-yard line in professional play and at the three-yard line in college play. Numerals that display the distance from the closest goal line in yards are placed on both sides of the field every ten yards.
Goalposts are located at the center of the plane of each of the two end lines. The crossbar of these posts is 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground, with vertical uprights at the end of the crossbar 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) apart for professional and collegiate play and 23 feet 4 inches (7.11 m) apart for high school play. The uprights extend vertically 35 feet (11 m) on professional fields, a minimum of 10 yards (9.1 m) on college fields, and a minimum of 10 feet (3.0 m) on high school fields. Goal posts are padded at the base, and orange ribbons are normally placed at the tip of each upright.
The football itself is an oval ball, similar to the balls used in rugby or Australian rules football. At all levels of play, the football is inflated to 12 1⁄2 to 13 1⁄2 pounds per square inch (86 to 93 kPa) and weighs 14 to 15 ounces (400 to 430 g); beyond that, the exact dimensions vary slightly. In professional play the ball has a long axis of 11 to 11 1⁄4 inches (28 to 29 cm), a long circumference of 28 to 28 1⁄2 inches (71 to 72 cm), and a short circumference of 21 to 21 1⁄4 inches (53 to 54 cm), while in college and high school play the ball has a long axis of 10 7⁄8 to 11 7⁄16 inches (27.6 to 29.1 cm), a long circumference of 27 3⁄4 to 28 1⁄2 inches (70 to 72 cm), and a short circumference of 20 3⁄4 to 21 1⁄4 inches (53 to 54 cm).
Football games last for a total of 60 minutes in professional and college play and are divided into two halves of 30 minutes and four quarters of 15 minutes. High school football games are 48 minutes in length with two halves of 24 minutes and four quarters of 12 minutes. The two halves are separated by a halftime period, and the first and third quarters are also followed by a short break. Prior to the start of the game, the referee and team captains for each team meet at midfield for a coin toss. The visiting team is allowed to call "heads" or "tails"; the winner of the toss is allowed to decide between choosing whether to receive or kick off the ball or choosing which goal they want to defend, but they can also defer their choice until the second half. The losing team, unless the winning team decides to defer, is allowed to choose the option the winning team did not select, and receives the option to receive, kick, or select a goal to defend to begin the second half. Most teams choose to receive or defer, because choosing to kick the ball to start the game would allow the other team to choose which goal to defend. Teams switch goals following the first and third quarters. If a down is in progress when a quarter ends, play continues until the down is completed.
Games last longer than their defined length due to play stoppages—the average NFL game lasts slightly over three hours. Time in a football game is measured by the game clock. An operator is responsible for starting, stopping and operating the game clock based on the direction of the appropriate official. A separate clock, the play clock, is used to determine if a delay of game infraction has been committed. If the play clock expires before the ball has been snapped or free-kicked, a delay of game foul is called on the offense. The play clock is set to 40 seconds in professional and college football and to 25 seconds in high school play or following certain administrative stoppages in the former levels of play.
There are two main ways that the offense can advance the ball: running and passing. In a typical play, the quarterback calls the play, and the center passes the ball backwards and under their legs to the quarterback in a process known as the snap. The quarterback then either hands the ball off to a back, throws the ball or runs with it. The play ends when the player with the ball is tackled or goes out of bounds, or a pass hits the ground without a player having caught it. A forward pass can only be legally attempted if the passer is behind the line of scrimmage, and only one forward pass can be attempted per down. Like in rugby, players can also pass the ball backwards at any point during a play. In the NFL, a down also ends if the runner's helmet comes off.
The offense is given a series of four plays, known as downs. If the offense advances ten or more yards in the four downs, they are awarded a new set of four downs. If they fail to advance ten yards, possession of the football is turned over to the defense. In most situations, if the offense reaches their fourth down they will punt the ball to the other team, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in field goal range, they might also attempt to score a field goal. A group of officials, the chain crew, keeps track of both the downs and the distance measurements. On television, a yellow line is electronically superimposed on the field to show the first down line to the viewing audience.
There are two categories of kicks in football: scrimmage kicks, which can be executed by the offensive team on any down from behind or on the line of scrimmage, and free kicks. The free kicks are the kickoff, which starts the first and third quarters and overtime and follows a try attempt or a successful field goal, and the safety kick, which follows a safety.
On a kickoff, the ball is placed at the 35-yard line of the kicking team in professional and college play and at the 40-yard line in high school play. The ball may be drop-kicked or place-kicked. If a place kick is chosen, the ball can be placed on the ground or on a tee, and a holder may be used in either case. On a safety kick, the kicking team kicks the ball from their own 20-yard line. They can punt, drop-kick or place-kick the ball, but a tee may not be used in professional play. Any member of the receiving team may catch or advance the ball, and the ball may be recovered by the kicking team once it has gone at least ten yards and has touched the ground or has been touched by any member of the receiving team.
The three types of scrimmage kicks are place kicks, drop kicks, and punts. Only place kicks and drop kicks can score points. The place kick is the standard method used to score points, because the pointy shape of the football makes it difficult to reliably drop kick. Once the ball has been kicked from a scrimmage kick, it can be advanced by the kicking team only if it is caught or recovered behind the line of scrimmage. If it is touched or recovered by the kicking team beyond this line, it becomes dead at the spot where it was touched. The kicking team is prohibited from interfering with the receiver's opportunity to catch the ball, and the receiving team has the option of signaling for a fair catch. This prohibits the defense from blocking into or tackling the receiver, but the play ends as soon as the ball is caught and the ball may not be advanced.
Officials are responsible for enforcing game rules and monitoring the clock. All officials carry a whistle and wear black-and-white striped shirts and black hats except for the referee, whose hat is white. Each carries a weighted yellow flag that is thrown to the ground to signal that a foul has been called. An official who spots multiple fouls will throw their hat as a secondary signal. The seven officials on the field are each tasked with a different set of responsibilities:
Another set of officials, the chain crew, are responsible for moving the chains. The chains, consisting of two large sticks with a 10-yard-long chain between them, are used to measure for a first down. The chain crew stays on the sidelines during the game, but if requested by the officials they will briefly bring the chains on to the field to measure. A typical chain crew will have at least three people – two members of the chain crew will hold either of the two sticks, while a third will hold the down marker. The down marker, a large stick with a dial on it, is flipped after each play to indicate the current down, and is typically moved to the approximate spot of the ball. The chain crew system has been used for over 100 years and is considered to be an accurate measure of distance, rarely subject to criticism from either side.
Football is a full-contact sport, and injuries are relatively common. Most injuries occur during training sessions, particularly ones that involve contact between players. To try to prevent injuries, players are required to wear a set of equipment. At a minimum players must wear a football helmet and a set of shoulder pads, but individual leagues may require additional padding such as thigh pads and guards, knee pads, chest protectors, and mouthguards. Most injuries occur in the lower extremities, particularly in the knee, but a significant number also affect the upper extremities. The most common types of injuries are strains, sprains, bruises, fractures, dislocations, and concussions.
Repeated concussions (and possibly sub-concussive head impacts) can increase a person's risk in later life for CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and mental health issues such as dementia, Parkinson's disease, and depression. Concussions are often caused by helmet-to-helmet or upper-body contact between opposing players, although helmets have prevented more serious injuries such as skull fractures. Various programs are aiming to reduce concussions by reducing the frequency of helmet-to-helmet hits; USA Football's "Heads Up Football" program is aiming to reduce concussions in youth football by teaching coaches and players about the signs of a concussion, the proper way to wear football equipment and ensure it fits, and proper tackling methods that avoid helmet-to-helmet contact. However, a study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine found that Heads Up Football was ineffective; the same study noted that more extensive reforms implemented by Pop Warner Little Scholars and its member teams were effective in significantly reducing concussion rates.
A 2018 study performed by the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University's school of medicine found that tackle football before age 12 was correlated with earlier onset of symptoms of CTE, but not with symptom severity. More specifically, each year a player played tackle football under age 12 predicted earlier onset of cognitive, behavioral, and mood problems by an average of two and a half years.
The National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are the most popular football leagues in the United States. The National Football League was founded in 1920 and has since become the largest and most popular sport in the United States. The NFL has the highest average attendance of any sporting league in the world, with an average attendance of 66,960 during the 2011 NFL Season. The NFL championship game is called the Super Bowl, and is among the biggest events in club sports worldwide. It is played between the champions of the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC), and its winner is awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
College football is the third-most popular sport in the United States, behind professional baseball and professional football. The NCAA, the largest collegiate organization, is divided into three Divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III. Division I football is further divided into two subdivisions: the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The champions of each level of play are determined through NCAA-sanctioned playoff systems; while the champion of Division I-FBS was historically determined by various polls and ranking systems, the subdivision adopted a four-team playoff system in 2014.
High school football is the most popular sport in the United States played by boys; over 1.1 million boys participated in the sport from 2007 to 2008 according to a survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The NFHS is the largest organization for high school football, with member associations in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. USA Football is the governing body for youth and amateur football, and Pop Warner Little Scholars is the largest organization for youth football.
Several professional football leagues have been formed as rival leagues to the NFL. The most successful rival league was the American Football League (AFL), which existed from 1960 to 1969. The AFL became a significant rival in 1964 before signing a five-year, US$36 million television deal with NBC. AFL teams began to sign NFL players to contracts, and the league's popularity grew to challenge that of the NFL. The two leagues merged in the 1970 season, and all AFL teams joined the NFL. An earlier league, the All-America Football Conference, was in play from 1946 to 1949. After the league dissolved, two AAFC teams, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers, became members of the NFL; another member, the Baltimore Colts joined the league, but folded after just a year in the NFL.
Other attempts to start rival leagues have been far less successful. The World Football League (WFL) played for two seasons, in 1974 and 1975, but faced monetary issues so severe that the league could not pay its players. In its second and final season the WFL attempted to establish a stable credit rating, but the league disbanded before its second season could be completed. The United States Football League (USFL) operated for three seasons from 1983 to 1985 but collapsed due to poor business decisions and monetary problems. A subsequent US$1.5 billion antitrust lawsuit against the NFL was successful in court, but the league was awarded only three dollars in damages. The XFL was created in 2001 by Vince McMahon and lasted for only one season. Despite television contracts with NBC and UPN and high expectations, the XFL suffered from poor television ratings and a low quality of play. The United Football League (UFL) began in 2009, but folded after suspending its 2012 season, due to financial issues.
American football leagues exist throughout the world, but the game has yet to achieve the international success and popularity of baseball and basketball. NFL Europa, the developmental league of the NFL, operated from 1991 to 1992 and then from 1995 to 2007. At the time of its closure, NFL Europa had five teams based in Germany and one in the Netherlands.
The European Football League (EFL), run by the European Federation of American Football (EFAF), is an annual invitational tournament between the champions or co-champions of competitions run by EFAF members. The league's championship game is the Eurobowl. Other EFAF tournaments include the EFAF Cup, played between the top teams from national leagues in a similar manner to the UEFA Cup, the Atlantic Cup, played between teams from the Atlantic region of Europe, and the Challenge Cup, played between teams from newer federations that are not eligible to play in the EFL or EFAF Cup. American football federations are also present in Asia, Oceania, and Pan America, and a total of 64 national football federations exist as of July 2012. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF), an international body composed of American football federations, runs tournaments such as the IFAF World Championship, which is held every four years since 1999, the IFAF Women's World Championship, the IFAF U-19 World Championship and the Flag Football World Championship. The IFAF also organizes the annual International Bowl game. At the international level, Canada, Mexico, and Japan are considered to be second-tier, while Austria, Germany, and France would rank among a third tier. All of these countries rank far below the United States, which is dominant at the international level.
Football is not an Olympic sport, but it was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Summer Olympics. The IFAF has received provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and a vote on making it an Olympic sport could be held as early as 2017. Several major obstacles hinder the IFAF goal of achieving status as an Olympic sport, such as the predominant participation of men in international play and the short three-week Olympic schedule. Large team sizes are an additional difficulty, due to the Olympics' set limit of 10,500 athletes and coaches. American football also has the issue of global visibility. Nigel Melville, the CEO of USA Rugby, noted that "American football is recognized globally as a sport, but it's not played globally." In order to solve these concerns, major effort has been put into promoting flag football, a modified version of American football, at the international level.
"Baseball is still called the national pastime, but football is by far the more popular sport in American society", according to ESPN.com's Sean McAdam. In a 2014 poll conducted by Harris Interactive, professional football ranked as the most popular sport, and college football ranked third behind only professional football and baseball; 46% of participants ranked some form of the game as their favorite sport. Professional football has ranked as the most popular sport in the poll since 1985, when it surpassed baseball for the first time. Professional football is most popular among those who live in the eastern United States and rural areas, while college football is most popular in the southern United States and among people with graduate and post-graduate degrees. Football is also the most-played sport by high school and college athletes in the United States. In a 2012 study, the NCAA estimated there were around 1.1 million high school football players and nearly 70,000 college football players in the United States; in comparison, the second-most played sport, basketball, had around 1 million participants in high school and 34,000 in college. The Super Bowl is the most popular single-day sporting event in the United States, and is among the biggest club sporting events in the world in terms of TV viewership. The NFL makes approximately $10 billion annually. Super Bowl games account for seven of the top eight most-watched broadcasts in American history; Super Bowl XLIX was watched by a record 114.4 million Americans.
American football also plays a significant role in American culture. The day on which the Super Bowl is held is considered a de facto national holiday, and in parts of the country like Texas, the sport has been compared to a religion. Football is also linked to other holidays; New Year's Day is traditionally the date for several college football bowl games, including the Rose Bowl. However, if New Year's Day is on a Sunday, the bowl games are moved to another date to not conflict with the typical NFL Sunday schedule. Thanksgiving football is an American tradition, hosting many high school, college, and professional games. Steve Deace of USA Today wrote that Americans are passionate about football "because it embodies everything we love about American exceptionalism. Merit is rewarded, not punished. Masculinity is celebrated, not feminized. People of various beliefs and backgrounds – a melting pot, if you will – must unify for a common goal for the team to be successful". Implicit rules such as playing through pain and sacrificing for the better of the team are promoted in football culture.
The safety of the sport has also sparked national controversy in American popular culture. It is often received as "overly aggressive", and defamiliarized in popular culture. The 2015 film Concussion aimed to shed light on the sport's safety, specifically in the NFL by having Will Smith portray Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
In Canada, the game has a significant following – according to a 2013 poll, 21% of respondents said they followed the NFL "very closely" or "fairly closely", making it the third-most followed league behind the National Hockey League (NHL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). American football also has a long history in Mexico, which was introduced to the sport in 1896. American football was the second-most popular sport in Mexico in the 1950s, with the game being particularly popular in colleges. The Los Angeles Times notes that the NFL claims over 16 million fans in Mexico, which places the country third behind the US and Canada. American football is played in Mexico both professionally and as part of the college sports system. The top American football competition in Mexico is the recently created Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional (Professional American Football League). At the collegiate level there is the Liga Mayor of the ONEFA, a college championship founded in 1930. There is also the CONADEIP Premier Conference, another college competition founded in 2010. American football is the fifth most popular sport in Mexico and the country has the highest rating of the NFL outside the United States.
Japan was introduced to the sport in 1934 by Paul Rusch, a teacher and Christian missionary who helped establish football teams at three universities in Tokyo. Play was halted during World War II, but began to grow in popularity again after the war. As of 2010, there are more than 400 high school football teams in Japan, with over 15,000 participants, and over 100 teams play in the Kantoh Collegiate Football Association (KCFA). The college champion plays the champion of the X-League (a semi-pro league where teams are financed by corporations) in the Rice Bowl to determine Japan's national champion.
Europe is a major target for expansion of the game by football organizers. In the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the sport was fairly popular, with the 1986 Super Bowl being watched by over 4 million people (about 1 out of every 14 Britons). The sport's popularity faded over the 1990s, coinciding with the establishment of the Premier League. According to BBC America, there is a "social stigma" surrounding American football in the UK, with many Brits feeling the sport has no right to call itself 'football' due to the small emphasis on kicking. Nonetheless, the sport has retained a following in the United Kingdom; the NFL operates a media network in the country, and since 2007 has hosted the NFL International Series in London. Super Bowl viewership has also rebounded, with over 4.4 million Britons watching Super Bowl XLVI.
The sport is played in European countries such as Switzerland, which has American football clubs in every major city, and Germany, where the sport has around 45,000 registered amateur players. In Europe, almost all nations have their own leagues, highlighting its importance those of Austria (Austrian Football League), Germany (German Football League), Great Britain (BAFA National Leagues), France (Ligue Élite de Football Américain) and Italy (Italian Football League). But in these countries American football has not yet reached the same level of popularity it has, for example, in North America. There are national teams of Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.
In Brazil, the American football audience increased 800% between 2013 and 2016, according to ESPN, which is, along with Esporte Interativo, the responsible networks for the transmission in the country. Brazil's audience is the 3rd biggest in the world, behind only Mexico and the United States. NFL leaders visited Maracanã Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, to verify the field. Rumors were that a Pro Bowl edition could be held there. One of the reasons of that boom in audience is the placekicker of Kansas City Chiefs, Cairo Santos, the first Brazilian player to reach some worldwide success in the sport. Also, the sport is already one of the most played around the country, with approximately 130 teams. The Superliga Nacional de Futebol Americano (National American Football Superleague) is a recently created Brazilian American football league, created and organized by the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano (Brazilian Confederation of American Football). To 2017, a strongest league will get start in June, including 32 teams around the country, in 4 conferences. In 2017, the famous soccer team Cruzeiro Esporte Clube joined with the 2016 America Cup's champion BH Eagles Futebol Americano, to create the Sada Cruzeiro Futebol Americano. The recent born team already won his state championship, and for the Brazilian top league already has signed with former NFL's player Nic Harris.
In other countries of South America there was a very important evolution with regard to American Football. In 2006 was begun the practice of this sport in Argentina. Currently there are three American Football Leagues in that country: Football Americano Argentina, located in Buenos Aires, which has six teams; Córdoba Football Americano, located in Córdoba, with three teams; Rosario Football League, located in Rosario, also with three teams. In addition there are teams in the formation stage in several provinces, such as in the province of Santa Fe.
In Colombia the FECOFA (Colombian Federation of American Football) was created. Recently it formalized a strategic alliance with FLAG FOOTBALL COLOMBIA to join efforts and work together looking for the growth and development of American football in all its modalities.
Canadian football, the predominant form of football in Canada, is closely related to American football – both sports developed from rugby, and the two sports are considered to be the chief variants of gridiron football. Although the two games share a similar set of rules, there are several key rule differences: for example, in Canadian football the field measures 150 by 65 yards (137 by 59 m), including two 20-yard end zones (for a distance between goal lines of 110 yards), teams have three downs instead of four, there are twelve players on each side instead of eleven, fair catches are not allowed, and a rouge, worth a single point is scored if the offensive team kicks the ball out of the defense's end zone. The Canadian Football League (CFL) is the major Canadian league and is the second-most popular sporting league in Canada, behind only the National Hockey League.
A major variant of football is arena football, played by the Arena Football League (AFL). Arena football has eight-player teams and uses an indoor field 50 yards (46 m) in length, excluding end zones, and 28.3 yards (25.9 m) wide. Punting is illegal, and kickoffs are attempted from the goal line. Large overhead nets deflect forward passes and kicks that hit them, and deflected kicks are live balls that may be recovered by either team.
Below the Arena Football League are what The New York Times writer Mike Tanier described as the "most minor of minor leagues:" indoor football leagues. Like in arena football, teams in indoor football leagues play in arenas, but games are only attended by a small number of fans, and most players are semi-professional athletes. Indoor football leagues are unstable, with franchises regularly moving from one league to another or merging with other teams, and teams or entire leagues dissolving entirely. The Indoor Football League, National Arena League, Champions Indoor Football and American Arena League are examples of prominent indoor leagues that are active as of 2017.
There are several non-contact variants of American football, such as flag football. In flag football the ballcarrier is not tackled; instead, defenders aim to pull a flag tied around their waist. Another variant, touch football, simply requires the ballcarrier to be touched to be considered downed. A game of touch football may require that the player be touched with either one or two hands to be considered down, depending on the rules used.
As a senior at Yale, Camp prevailed at Massasoit House and cut the number of players to 11 from 15. That year  he also came up with the idea for a static line of scrimmage.
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) was a professional American football league, founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. The AAF consisted of eight centrally owned and operated teams, all in the southern and western United States. All teams except Birmingham were located in metropolitan areas with at least one major professional sports franchise.
The AAF began play on February 9, 2019, six days after the National Football League's (NFL) Super Bowl LIII championship game. On April 2, 2019, the league's football operations were suspended by controlling owner Thomas Dundon, who purchased his stake in the league shortly after it began play. Two days later, the AAF allowed players to leave their contracts to sign with NFL teams. On April 17, 2019, the league filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.American Football Conference
The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the National Football Conference (NFC), currently contain 16 teams organized into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC, and the remaining thirteen NFL clubs forming the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current AFC champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game for their 11th conference championship.American Football League
The American Football League (AFL) was a major professional American football league that operated for ten seasons from 1960 until 1969, when it merged with the older National Football League (NFL), and became the American Football Conference. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence. It was more successful than earlier rivals to the NFL with the same name, the 1926, 1936 and 1940 leagues, and the later All-America Football Conference (which existed between 1944 and 1950 but only played between 1946 and 1949).
This fourth version of the AFL was the most successful, created by a number of owners who had been refused NFL expansion franchises or had minor shares of NFL franchises. The AFL's original lineup consisted of an Eastern division of the New York Titans, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and the Houston Oilers, and a Western division of the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Texans. The league first gained attention by signing 75% of the NFL's first-round draft choices in 1960, including Houston's successful signing of college star and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon.
While the first years of the AFL saw uneven competition and low attendance, the league was buttressed by a generous television contract with the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (followed by a contract with the competing National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for games starting with the 1965 season) that broadcast the more offense-oriented football league nationwide. Continuing to attract top talent from colleges and the NFL by the mid-1960s, as well as successful franchise shifts of the Chargers from L.A. south to San Diego and the Texans north to Kansas City (becoming the Kansas City Chiefs), the AFL established a dedicated following. The transformation of the struggling Titans into the New York Jets under new ownership further solidified the league's reputation among the major media.
As fierce competition made player salaries skyrocket in both leagues, especially after a series of "raids", the leagues agreed to a merger in 1966. Among the conditions were a common draft and a championship game played between the two league champions first played in early 1967, which would eventually become known as the Super Bowl.
The AFL and NFL operated as separate leagues until 1970, with separate regular season and playoff schedules except for the championship game. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle also became chief executive of the AFL from July 26, 1966, through the completion of the merger. During this time the AFL expanded, adding the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. After losses by Kansas City and Oakland in the first two AFL-NFL World Championship Game to the Green Bay Packers (1967/1968), the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowls III and IV (1969/1970) respectively, cementing the league's claim to being an equal to the NFL.
In 1970, the AFL was absorbed into the NFL and the league reorganized with the ten AFL franchises along with the previous NFL teams Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers becoming part of the newly-formed American Football Conference.American football positions
In American football each team has 11 players on the field at one time. The specific role that a player takes on the field is called their position. Under the modern rules of American football, teams are allowed unlimited substitutions; that is, teams may change any number of players after any play. This has resulted in the development of three "platoons" of players: the offense (the team with the ball, which is trying to score), the defense (the team trying to prevent the other team from scoring, and to take the ball from them), and the special teams (who play in kicking situations). Within those platoons, various specific positions exist depending on what each player's main job is.Forrest Gregg
Alvis Forrest Gregg (October 18, 1933 – April 12, 2019) was an American football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL), the Canadian Football League, and the NCAA. A Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman for 16 seasons, he was a part of six NFL championships, five of them with the Green Bay Packers before closing out his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys with a win in Super Bowl VI. Gregg was later the head coach of three NFL teams (Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Packers), as well as two Canadian Football League teams (Toronto Argonauts and Shreveport Pirates).
As a head coach, he led the 1981 Bengals to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the 49ers by a score of 26–21.Head coach
A head coach, senior coach, or manager is a professional at training and developing athletes. They typically hold a more public profile and are paid more than other coaches. In some sports, the head coach is instead called the "manager", as in association football and professional baseball. In other sports such as Australian rules football, the head coach is generally termed a senior coach.
Other coaches are usually subordinate to the head coach, often in offensive positions or defensive positions, and occasionally proceeding down into individualized position coaches.Joe Namath
Joseph William Namath (; born May 31, 1943), nicknamed Broadway Joe, is a former American football quarterback and actor. He played college football for the University of Alabama under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant from 1962 to 1964, and professional football in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) during the 1960s and 1970s. Namath was an AFL icon and played for that league's New York Jets for most of his professional football career. He finished his career with the Los Angeles Rams. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He retired after playing 143 games over 13 years in the AFL and NFL, including playoffs. His teams had an overall record of 68 wins, 71 losses, and four ties, 64–64–4 in 132 starts, and 4–7 in relief. He completed 1,886 passes for 27,663 yards, threw 173 touchdowns, and had 220 interceptions, for a career passer rating of 65.5. He played for three division champions (the 1968 and 1969 AFL East Champion Jets and the 1977 NFC West Champion Rams), earned one league championship (1968 AFL Championship), and one Super Bowl victory (Super Bowl III).
In 1999, he was ranked number 96 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the only player on the list to have spent a majority of his career with the Jets. In his 1975 autobiography, Bryant called Namath the most natural athlete he had ever coached.Namath is known for boldly guaranteeing a Jets' victory over Don Shula's NFL Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III (1969), then making good on his prediction with a 16–7 upset (the win remains the Jets' only Super Bowl appearance). Already a celebrity, he was now established not only as a sports icon but a pop culture icon. He subsequently parlayed his notoriety into success with endorsement deals and as a nightclub owner, talk show host, pioneering advertising spokesman, theater, motion picture, television actor, and sports broadcaster. He remained a highly recognizable figure in the media and sports worlds nearly half a century after his brashness cemented his identity in the public mind.Linebacker
A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in American football and Canadian football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen, and therefore "back up the line". Linebackers generally align themselves before the ball is snapped by standing upright in a "two-point stance" (as opposed to the defensive linemen, who put one or two hands on the ground for a "three-point stance" or "four-point stance" before the ball is snapped).
The goal of the linebacker is to provide either extra run protection or extra pass protection based on the particular defensive play being executed. Another key play of the linebacker position is blitzing. A blitz occurs when a linebacker acts as an extra pass rusher running into any exposed gap. When a blitz is called by the defense, it is mainly to sack or hurry the opposing offense's quarterback.
Linebackers are often regarded as the most important position in defense, due to their versatility in providing hard hits on running plays or an additional layer of pass protection, when required. Similar to the "free safety" position, linebackers are required to use their judgment on every snap, to determine their role during that particular play.Michael Oher
Michael Jerome Oher (; né Williams Jr.; born May 28, 1986) is an American football offensive tackle who is currently a free agent. He played college football for the University of Mississippi, and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers.
Oher earned unanimous All-American honors at Mississippi, and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. His life through his final year of high school and first year of college is one of the subjects of Michael Lewis' 2006 book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and was featured in the Academy Award-winning 2009 film The Blind Side.Michael Strahan
Michael Anthony Strahan (; born November 21, 1971) is a former American football defensive end who spent his entire 15-year career with the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). Strahan set a record for the most sacks in a season in 2001, and helped the Giants win Super Bowl XLII over the New England Patriots in his final season in 2007. After retiring from the NFL, Strahan became a media personality. Strahan was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
He is currently a football analyst on Fox NFL Sunday, and co-host of on ABC's Strahan and Sara. He was previously on the syndicated daytime talk show Live! with Kelly and Michael with co-host Kelly Ripa from 2012 to 2016, where he was a two-time Daytime Emmy Award winner. In 2014, he became a regular contributor on morning show Good Morning America, and in 2016 the network announced that Strahan would be leaving Live! to join GMA on a full-time basis.National Football League
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference (four division winners and two wild card teams) advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.
The NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) before renaming itself the National Football League for the 1922 season. The NFL agreed to merge with the American Football League (AFL) in 1966, and the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that season; the merger was completed in 1970. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most watched television programs in American history, all occupying the Nielsen's Top 5 tally of the all-time most watched U.S. television broadcasts by 2015. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league. The players in the league belong to the National Football League Players Association.
The team with the most NFL championships is the Green Bay Packers with thirteen (nine NFL titles before the Super Bowl era, and four Super Bowl championships afterwards); the teams with the most Super Bowl championships are the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, each with six. The current NFL champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII for their sixth Super Bowl championship.New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston area. The Patriots compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays its home games at Gillette Stadium in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is located 21 miles (34 km) southwest of downtown Boston, Massachusetts and 20 miles (32 km) northeast of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The Patriots are also headquartered at Gillette Stadium.
An original member of the American Football League (AFL), the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of the two leagues. The team changed its name from the original Boston Patriots after relocating to Foxborough in 1971. The Patriots played their home games at Foxboro Stadium from 1971 to 2001, then moved to Gillette Stadium at the start of the 2002 season. The Patriots' rivalry with the New York Jets is considered one of the most bitter rivalries in the NFL.
Since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in 2000, the Patriots have since become one of the most successful teams in NFL history, winning 16 AFC East titles in 18 seasons since 2001, without a losing season in that period. The franchise has since set numerous notable records, including most wins in a ten-year period (126, in 2003–2012), an undefeated 16-game regular season in 2007, the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history (a 21-game streak from October 2003 to October 2004), and the most consecutive division titles won by a team in NFL history (ten straight division titles from 2009 to 2018). The team owns the record for most Super Bowls reached (nine) and won (six) by a head coach–quarterback tandem, most Super Bowl appearances overall (eleven), tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins (six), and also tied with the Denver Broncos for the most Super Bowl losses (five).New York Jets
The New York Jets are a professional American football team located in the New York metropolitan area. The Jets compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team is headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey. In a unique arrangement for the league, the Jets share MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey with the New York Giants. The franchise is legally and corporately registered as New York Jets, LLC.The team was founded in 1959 as the Titans of New York, an original member of the American Football League (AFL); later, the franchise joined the NFL in the AFL–NFL merger in 1970. The team began to play in 1960 at the Polo Grounds. Under new ownership, the current name was adopted in 1963 and the franchise moved to Shea Stadium in 1964 and then to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in 1984. The Jets advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 1968 and went on to compete in Super Bowl III where they defeated the Baltimore Colts, becoming the first AFL team to defeat an NFL club in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game. Since 1968, the Jets have appeared in the playoffs 13 times, and in the AFC Championship Game four times, most recently losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. However, the Jets have never returned to the Super Bowl, making them one of three NFL teams to win their lone Super Bowl appearance, along with the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Apart from the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, who have never reached the Super Bowl (although both won NFL championships prior to 1966), the Jets' drought is the longest among current NFL franchises.
The team's training facility, Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, which opened in 2008, is located in Florham Park. The team currently holds their annual training camp sessions in Florham Park, New Jersey.O. J. Simpson
Orenthal James Simpson (born July 9, 1947), nicknamed The Juice, is an American former running back, broadcaster, actor, advertising spokesman, and convicted robber and kidnapper.
Simpson attended the University of Southern California (USC), where he played football for the USC Trojans and won the Heisman Trophy in 1968. He played professionally as a running back in the NFL for 11 seasons, primarily with the Buffalo Bills from 1969 to 1977. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1978 to 1979. In 1973, he became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He holds the record for the single season yards-per-game average, which stands at 143.1. He was the only player to ever rush for over 2,000 yards in the 14-game regular season NFL format.
Simpson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. After retiring from football, he began new careers in acting and football broadcasting.
In 1994, Simpson was arrested and charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. He was acquitted by a jury after a lengthy and internationally publicized trial. The families of the victims subsequently filed a civil suit against him, and in 1997 a civil court awarded a $33.5 million judgment against him for the victims' wrongful deaths. In 2000, he moved to Florida to avoid paying any more of the liability judgment, settling in Miami.
In 2007, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, and charged with the felonies of armed robbery and kidnapping. In 2008, he was convicted and sentenced to 33 years imprisonment, with a minimum of nine years without parole. He served his sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center near Lovelock, Nevada. Simpson was granted parole on July 20, 2017. He was eligible for release from prison on October 1, 2017, and was released on that date.Quarterback
A quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes.Running back
A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback (in certain contexts also referred to as a tailback), a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.Shannon Sharpe
Shannon Sharpe (born June 26, 1968) is a former American football tight end who played for the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL), as well as a former analyst for CBS Sports on its NFL telecasts. He is a TV presenter who co-hosts Skip and Shannon: Undisputed with Skip Bayless.
Sharpe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 6, 2011. He played 12 seasons for the Broncos (1990–1999, 2002–2003) and two with the Ravens (2000–2001), winning three Super Bowls and finishing his career as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (815), receiving yards (10,060) and receiving touchdowns (62) by a tight end, until Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten surpassed all three of those records. He was the first tight end to amass over 10,000 receiving yards. He was named to the First Team of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.Terry Crews
Terry Alan Crews (born July 30, 1968) is an American actor, comedian, activist, artist, and former American football player. Crews played Julius Rock on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and Nick Kingston-Persons in the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet? He previously hosted the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and starred in the BET reality series The Family Crews. He appeared in films such as Friday After Next (2002), White Chicks (2004), Idiocracy (2006), and the Expendables series. Since 2013, he has played NYPD Sergeant Terry Jeffords in the sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He is currently set to host America's Got Talent in 2019, following his involvement in the same role for the program's spin-off series America's Got Talent: The Champions from January 2019.
Crews played as a defensive end and linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins, as well as in the World League of American Football with Rhein Fire, and college football at Western Michigan University.
Crews, a public advocate for women's rights and activist against sexism, has shared stories of the abuse his family endured at the hands of his violent father. He was included among the group of people named as Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2017 for going public with stories of sexual assault.Wide receiver
A wide receiver, also referred to as wideouts or simply receivers, is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is a key player. They get their name because they are split out "wide" (near the sidelines), farthest away from the rest of the team. Wide receivers are among the fastest players on the field. The wide receiver functions as the pass-catching specialist.
International American football
Gridiron football concepts
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