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The History of the NFL And The Super Bowl – 104 Years And 10 Fantastic Facts!

The NFL and it’s season ending Super Bowl remain one of the biggest sporting organisations in the world. Here’s why!

It is one of the most spectacular and popular sporting events of the year. Each February, the finale of the NFL season, the Super Bowl is contested.

And it is a fitting end to one of the most spectacular sporting seasons every year.

Yet, it is strange to think that the Super Bowl is a relatively new addition to the American Football campaign, with the first official Super Bowl taking place in January 1967.

Since then, it has become an annual sporting event followed by millions, if not billions, around the world.

Every year many punters head to bet365 Sport to make their Super Bowl winner selections. So popular is this yearly contest.

To understand why this is the case, let’s first head back in time over 100 years. Here we find the very first seeds of what would become the NFL and it’s hallmark season-ending match up.

The Beginning of the NFL

Strange as it may seem, the beginning of the NFL begins many years before there was an NFL. The first professional football players were paid in 1892 in Pennsylvania.

Back then, there was no national league or competition. Local and regional fixtures predominated with little interaction across states. Several organisations tried to set up a national football league, but all failed.

But in 1920, the American Professional Footballers Association did form, with a core group of 10 teams from four different states. In doing so, it became the first to establish some form of nationwide acceptance.

Super Bowl
Two teams with Super Bowl pedigree. The 49ers and Packers

By 1922, the APFA had instead become the National Football League and over the next 10 years, the league started to organise itself more formally.

By 1950, the NFL absorbed the All-America Football Conference and then in 1960, the American Football League was founded and proved to be very successful.

After a few years of acrimony, competing drafts and poaching players from the other organisation, the NFL and AFL merged in 1966.

It was at this point that the NFC and AFC were created, both operating under the NFL umbrella. Additionally, a year ending game between the NFC and AFC Champions would be played, the very first Super Bowl.

The first Super Bowl was officially contested on January 15th 1967, for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Over the next 60 years, the NFL would develop into the most lucrative professional sport in the United States. It’s appeal around the world would increase throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Similarly, over that period, more teams were added to the organisation. To the point where we now have the 32 franchises, 16 each in the NFC and AFC.

Over the years, the divisional set up in each league has been changed and reorganised several times. However, the end of season playoffs and the Super Bowl have remained a constant.

10 Fantastic Facts About the NFL

  1. The first professional players in the history of the sport were Ben “Sport” Donnelly and Pudge Heffelfinger. Both were paid very well to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association in Pennsylvania back in 1892.
  2. Only two franchises from the first official NFL season in 1920 remain in existence. They are the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) and the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears).
  3. Other current NFL teams who started league play in the next decade include the Green Bay Packers (1921), New York Giants (1925) and Detroit Lions (1930 – as the Portsmouth Spartans before relocating to Detroit in 1934 and becoming the Lions).
  4. The first Draft of college players for the NFL was held in 1936.
  5. The first televised NFL Game took place on 22nd October 1939.
  6. The 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Baltmore Colts and New York Giants is rated by many as The Greatest Game Ever Played due to its exciting ending increasing the popularity of the sport throughout the United States.
  7. The AFL and NFL announced their merger in June 1966 but it was not until 1970 that they fully merged.
  8. Monday Night Football was first aired in 1970.
  9. The current set up of four divisions of four teams in the NFC and AFC was set up in 2002.
  10. The first regular season NFL game played outside of the United States was in Mexico City in 2005.

The Super Bowl – A History

Prior to the NFL/AFL merger in 1966, there had not been a Super Bowl.

Each season, one (sometimes more) team or teams would declare themselves World Champions, but with no official structure, it was hard to argue that they were the best.

The Super Bowl ensured that uncertainty was eradicated. Each year from 1967, the Champions of the NFL (subsequently NFC) and AFL (subsequently AFC) would battle it out. The winner would be the undoubted top team in the NFL and World Champions.

Super Bowl I took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Stadium in California and saw the Green Bay Packers of the NFL defeat the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL 35-10.

Since then, the season finale has taken place every year at venues across the United States.

Super Bowl Stat Pack

  • Most Super Bowl Wins (Team) – 6 by the New England Patriots & Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Most Super Bowl Wins (Player) – 7 by Tom Brady (6 with Patriots, 1 with Buccaneers)
  • Most Super Bowl Appearances – 11 by the New England Patriots
  • Most Super Bowl Defeats – 5 by the New England Patriots & Denver Broncos
  • Most Appearances without a Win – 4 by the Buffalo Bills & Minnesota Vikings
  • Teams Who Have Never Appeared in a Super Bowl – 4 – Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Most Used Stadium for the Super Bowl – Superdome in New Orleans (7 times, plus will be used again in Feb 2025).
  • Most Points – 75 – 1995 – San Francisco 49ers 49-26 San Diego Chargers
  • Fewest Points – 16 – 2018 – New England Patriots 13-3 Los Angeles Rams
  • Biggest Winning Margin – 45 points – 1990 – San Francisco 49ers 55-10 Denver Broncos
  • Smallest Winning Margin – 1 point – 1991 – New York Giants 20-19 Buffalo Bills
  • No of Super Bowls Needing Overtime – 1 – 2017 – New England Patriots 34-28 Atlanta Falcons
  • Biggest Attendance – 103,985 – 1979 – Rose Bowl, Pasadena – Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 Los Angeles Rams.
  • Most Consecutive Super Bowl Wins – 2 – Achieved by a number of teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers achieved the feat twice, the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers have achieved the feat once.
  • Most Commonly Played Super Bowl – Pittsburgh Steelers v Dallas Cowboys (played 3 times in total, the Steelers winning two, the Cowboys one)
  • Most Touchdowns scored in a Super Bowl (career) – Jerry Rice – 8
  • Most Points scored in a Super Bowl (career) – Jerry Rice – 48
  • Future Super Bowl Venues – 2024 – Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, 2025 – Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, 2026 – Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, 2027 – SoFi Stadium, Inglewood

Every year the Super Bowl and the NFL thrills fans across the world. So do tune in to see which of the 32 teams becomes the next NFL Super Bowl Champions!

Ian John

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