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From The Top
General descriptionHope you enjoy
Before the 19th century, when modern forms of football first emerged, the name "football" was applied to a wide variety of codes of rules with widely-differing rules. Although there are mentions of native Americans playing ball games, modern American football has its origins in traditional ball games played at villages and schools in Europe for many centuries before America was settled by Europeans. There are reports of early settlers at Jamestown, Virginia playing games with inflated balls in the early 17th century.
As is the case with many sports, modern football games were popularized in the USA by students at and/or from elite schools and universities. These appear to have had much in common with the traditional "mob football" played in England, especially on Shrove Tuesday. By 1820, a notoriously violent game known as "ballown" began to be played at the College of New Jersey (later known as Princeton University). Also by the 1820s, students at Dartmouth College were playing a kicking game that would be called Old Division Football (for which they published rules in 1871). In 1827 a Harvard University student composed a humorous epic poem called The Battle of the Delta, one of the first accounts of football in American universities.
Varieties of "football"
Within the spectrum of modern football codes there are several "families", which have diverged from and/or influenced each other in their development. Many of these games have their origins in varieties of football played in England. By the 1850s, the two main families of football in England were the "kicking games", in which the ball was mostly kicked along the ground, and the "running games", in which the ball was mostly carried by players. Some codes combined elements from both families. In 1845, at Rugby School in England, rugby football became the first of the running games to have codified rules. The best-known of the kicking games is "Association Football" (a name commonly shortened to "soccer"), which began with the code devised in 1863 in England, by The Football Association.
The origins of American football
Oneida Football Club, 1861
The Oneida Football Club, formed in Boston in 1861 is claimed by some sources as the first American football team. However, no one knows what rules the club used.They may have played "kicking" games, "running" games, both or some hybrid form. The latter seems most likely, since the "Oneidas" are often credited with inventing the "Boston Game", which both allowed players to kick a round ball along the ground, and to pick it up and run with it. The game seems to have been popular in Massachusetts (at least) in the mid-19th century: for example, there are references to it being the most popular form of football at Harvard University, shortly afterwards.
The Canadian contribution, late 1860s
The first known instances of rugby football in North America were in the 1860s in Canada. In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland and Frederick A. Bethune devised rules based on the Rugby School game. However, the first game of "rugby" in Canada is generally said to have taken place in Montreal, in 1865, when British Army officers played local civilians. The game gradually gained a following, and the Montreal Football Club was formed in 1868, the first recorded football club in Canada.
Codes based on the Rugby School rules began to be played at other Canadian universities in the late 1860s and these games were the basis of Canadian football , They would also prove to have a major influence on American football.
Rutgers v. Princeton, 1869
Rutgers University and Princeton University played a game on November 6, 1869 using a slightly modified version of the rules of Association Football , following details of the game:
Rutgers won, 6 goals to 4.
It was played by two teams of 25.
Two members of each team were stationed near their opponent's goal in the hope of scoring from unguarded positions.
Each team was divided into 11 "fielders" and 12 "bulldogs".
The ball could be advanced only by kicking or batting it with the feet, hands, heads or sides. The rules banned throwing or running with the ball.
Rutgers players formed "a perfect interference" around the ball.
Rutgers players advanced the ball by "short, skillful kicks".
A Princeton player threw himself into a group of Rutgers players, "bursting us apart, and bowling us over".
One Rutgers player used a technique of kicking the rolling ball with his heel.
An illustration on the Rutgers website suggests that they were using a round ball.
Touchdowns were not a feature. (In fact none were recorded in games played by Rutgers until 1878-79.)
The rules generally were the same as the rules of Association Football at the time. Rules number 1, 5, 7, 9 and 10 in particular reflect the influence of soccer, which at the time did not bar players from hitting the ball with their hands, (or taking a "fair catch" followed by a free kick), but did not allow them to hold and run with the ball.
Princeton and the NFL also state that the 1869 game was based on soccer. The historian Stephen Fox identifies it as "New York Ball", a soccer-like game (which should not be confused with a type of baseball that also went by the same name), common in the vicinity of New York City.
Games between the two colleges and other teams soon followed.
The early 1870s
On October 19, 1873, representatives from Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City to codify the first set of intercollegiate football rules, based directly on the rules of the F.A. in London. Harvard students chose not to attend.
In the words of the U.S. Professional Football Researchers Association, the four colleges decided, among other things, that:
5. No player shall throw or carry the ball. Any violation of this regulation shall constitute a foul...
7. No tripping shall be allowed, nor shall any player use his hands to hold or push an adversary.
12. In all matches a No. 6 ball shall be used, furnished by the challenging side and to become the property of the victor.
The No. 6 ball was imported from England where it was used by the London Football Association. It was 30 inches in circumference, entirely round, and very strong. It was not pigskin; rather, the covering was heavy canvas thoroughly saturated with rubber.
The PFRA added:
Rules number five and number seven stamped the game as soccer by eliminating carrying and the use of hands. There was unanimity among the four assembled schools for the exclusion of these practices. And, it was because everyone knew that the four assembled schools felt that way about it that Harvard, although invited, chose to skip the whole get-together.
McGill v. Harvard, 1874 & Harvard v. Yale, 1875
Harvard was isolated from its US counterparts by the fact that it did not play soccer. As a result, in 1874, Harvard footballers welcomed a request from the rugby team of McGill University of Montreal to play a pair of games at Harvard. In these games, the two teams alternated between the rules used by each college. Following these games, Harvard also adopted a game based on the Rugby Union code and played Yale under these rules in 1875. Within a few years, other US universities had also adopted rugby.)
The birth of American football, 1876
On November 23, 1876 representatives from Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale met at Massasoit House in Springfield, Massachusetts to decide on standard American rules, an event which became known as the Massasoit Convention. They adopted the Rugby Union rules in their entirety, except for two innovations: a touch-down in rugby only counted toward the score if neither side kicked a field goal. Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia agreed that four touchdowns would be worth one goal; in the event of a tied score, a goal converted from a touchdown would take precedence over four touch-downs. The three colleges also founded the original Intercollegiate Football Association (IAA).
The influence of Walter Camp, 1880s
Between 1880 and 1883, Yale coach Walter Camp devised a number of major changes to the American game—including some major breaks with the rugby tradition—beginning with the reduction of teams from 15 to 11 players; reduction of the field area by almost half; and the introduction of the scrimmage, in which a player heeled the ball backwards to begin a game. These were complemented by a more significant innovation: a team had to surrender possession if they did not gain five yards after three downs (successful tackles), a rule introduced to thwart Princeton and Yale's strategy of controlling the ball without trying to score. Camp also introduced the seven-man offensive line, plus a quarterback, two halfbacks and a fullback in the backfield, an arrangement which soon became the norm.
Canadian football eventually absorbed many of these developments, but also retained many unique characteristics. One of these was that Canadian football, for many years, did not officially distinguish itself from rugby. For example, the Canadian Rugby Football Union (founded in 1884) was the forerunner of the Canadian Football League, but not an internationally-recognised rugby body. (See also the comparison of Canadian and American football article.)
Football caught on among the general population and began to be the subject of intense competition and rivalry, albeit of a localised nature. In 1892, although payments to players were considered unsporting and dishonorable at the time, a Pittsburgh area club, the Allegheny Athletic Association, surreptitiously hired former Yale All-American guard William "Pudge" Heffelfinger. On November 12, Heffelfinger became the first known professional football player. He was paid $500—a huge amount at the time—to play in a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Heffelfinger picked up a Pittsburgh fumble and ran 35 yards for a touchdown, winning the game 4-0 for Allegheny. Although many observers held suspicions, the payment remained a secret for many years.
On September 3, 1895 the first wholly professional game was played, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, between the Latrobe YMCA and the Jeannette Athletic Club. Latrobe won the contest 12-0.
The reform of American football
In the second half of the Harvard-Yale game of 1892, Harvard introduced the flying wedge — an interlocking offensive formation play devised by chess master Lorin F. Deland — which resulted in so many injuries to Yale players that it was outlawed the following season. In 1894, newspapers reported seven players carried off "in dying condition" in the Harvard-Yale game, and the two schools broke off all official contact including athletic competition for two years.
By 1900, American football had become infamous for serious injuries, as well as the deaths of a significant number of players. Interlocking formations and the practice of teammates physically dragging ball-carrying players forward had made the game extremely dangerous. Despite the introduction of some restrictions, 18 players were killed in 1905.
The death rate had resulted in national controversy and football was banned by a number of colleges. Although U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly liked the game, he informed the universities that it must be made safer. The President reportedly threatened that, if it were not made safer, he would campaign to outlaw the game.
Consequently, a series of meetings was held by 19 colleges in 1905-06. The meetings led to many restrictions on tackling and two more innovations: the first was the addition of a neutral zone between the scrimmage lines, with a requirement that at least six players from each team be positioned on them. The second was legalisation of the forward pass, a major deviation from the game's forebear of rugby. As an alternative means of opening out the play, Walter Camp had wanted to widen the field, but representatives from Harvard pointed to recently constructed Harvard Stadium, which could not be widened.
The meetings also led to formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States on March 31, 1906 (the foreunner of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA).
The changes did not immediately have the desired effect, and 33 football players were killed during 1908 alone. As a result, in 1910, interlocking formations were finally outlawed. The number of deaths and injuries gradually declined.
In 1912, football fields were reduced in width by 35 yards, the value of a touchdown increased to six points, and a fourth down was added, before possession would switch. The game had gained the main attributes of its modern form.
In the early years of the 20th century, college football was the predominant form of American football. Innovations in strategy and style of play originated in college football and spread to the pro game gradually. It was not until much later that professional leagues surpassed the university football competitions in standing and influence.
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Establishment of the NFL, 1920-45
While attention in most areas was still paid to football at elite colleges, the professional game spread widely in the Midwest. In 1920, the first pro league, the American Professional Football Association, was founded, in a meeting at a Hupmobile car dealership in Canton, Ohio. The legendary Olympian and all-round athlete Jim Thorpe was elected president. The initial group of 11 teams, of which all but one were located in the Midwest, was originally less a league than an agreement not to rob other teams' players. In the early years, APFA members continued to play non-APFA teams.
In 1921, the APFA began releasing official standings, and the following year, the group changed its name to the National Football League. However, the NFL was hardly a major league in the 20s. Teams entered and left the league frequently. Franchises included the Oorang Indians, an all-Native American outfit that also put on a performing dog show.
Former college stars like Red Grange and Benny Friedman increasingly joined professional teams, and the pro game slowly began to increase in popularity. By 1934, all of the small-town teams, with the exception of the Green Bay Packers, had moved to or been replaced by big cities. One factor in the league's rising popularity was the institution of an annual championship game in 1933.
The NFL becomes dominant within football, 1945-59
By the end of World War II, in 1945, pro football had begun to rival the college game for fans' attention. The spread of the T formation led to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game that attracted record numbers of fans. In 1945, the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles, becoming the first big-league sports franchise on the West Coast. In 1950, the NFL accepted three teams from the defunct All-America Football Conference, expanding to 13 clubs.
In the 1950s, pro football finally earned its place as a major sport. The NFL embraced television, giving Americans nationwide a chance to follow stars like Bobby Layne, Paul Hornung and Johnny Unitas. The 1958 NFL championship in New York — considered by many to be the most-important game in the rise of the NFL — drew record TV viewership and made national celebrities out of Unitas and his Baltimore Colts teammates.
Football achieves supremacy, 1960-90
The rise of pro football was so fast that by the mid-60s, it had surpassed baseball as Americans' favorite spectator sport in some surveys. As more people wanted to cash in on this surge of popularity than the NFL could accommodate, a rival league, the American Football League, was founded in 1960. The costly war for players which ensued, between the NFL and AFL, almost derailed the sport's ascent. In 1966, the leagues agreed to merge, with effect from the 1970 season. The 10 AFL teams joined three existing NFL teams to form the NFL's American Football Conference. The remaining 13 NFL teams became the National Football Conference. Another result of the merger was the creation of the Super Bowl to determine the "world champion" of pro football.
In the 1970s and 80s, the NFL solidified its dominance as America's top spectator sport and its important role in American culture. The Super Bowl became an unofficial national holiday and the top-rated TV program most years. Monday Night Football, which first aired in 1970 brought in high ratings by mixing sports and entertainment. Rules changes in the late 70s ensured a fast-paced game with lots of passing to attract the casual fan.
The founding of the United States Football League in the early 80s was the biggest challenge to the NFL in the post-merger era. The USFL was a well-financed competitor with big-name players and a national television contract. However, the USFL failed to make money and folded after three years.
College football in the 21st century
College football remains extremely popular throughout the U.S. This is in part because professional teams are found only in major cities and because of long standing NFL rules requiring players to be at least three years out of high school before joining the NFL. The college form of the game is especially popular in parts of the country not in close proximity to such cities, for example in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama and Iowa. However, the absence of a pro franchise does not necessarily indicate where the college game is most successful. For example, in Ohio, Texas and Florida — states which all have more than one NFL franchise — there are universities that also rank in the upper financial echelons of college football.
There is also no strong rivalry between the NFL and the NCAA, since there is enough TV and radio airtime for both. College football is dominant on Saturday, the NFL on Sundays.
American football spreads to other countries
The Japan American Football Association was founded in 1934 with three collegiate teams: Rikkyo, Meiji and Waseda. By 1937, an allstar game involving teams representing eastern and western Japan, attracted over 25,000 spectators.
American football became popular in various countries after World War II, especially those in which there were large numbers of U.S. military personnel, who often formed a substantial proportion of the players and spectators.
In Japan, high school teams also began to appear. In the 1970s, the movement of players between Japan and the U.S. increased dramatically, along with greater exposure on Japanese television.
The first amateur clubs in Europe were formed in West Germany in the 1970s. The German Football League's first German Bowl was played in 1979, with Frankfurt winning. In Europe the use of experienced players from the USA or Canada, who had to wear a large "A" on their helmets, brought quick success, but hampered the development of local talent. No more than two or three "A" players were allowed on the field, and in countries like Finland, teams also had to provide a local quarterback. This helped the Finnish American Football Association win the European championships in the 1980s, over Great Britain and Germany, where US players often ran the offense in club games, but were not available for the national teams. However they could play for clubs that competed for the Euro Bowl. (See also: List of leagues of American football).
Pro football outside the U.S.A.
Since 1986, the NFL has expanded into new markets and ventures with the American Bowl games, starting in London. In 1991, the league formed the World League of American Football. This turned into NFL Europe, a developmental league which now has five teams in Germany and one in the Netherlands. Franchises which started in other parts of Europe have moved to Germany over the years.
The NFL played a regular-season game in Mexico City in 2005 and intends to play more such games in other countries. In 2003, The NFL lauched its own cable-television channel, the NFL Network.
Re: From The Top
I don't know just love football and most of all our rams ...
I do make mistakes now and again i just made one with art too many drugs right now ! LOL Just love the game , Has been a big part of my life since I was a little guy ...Thanks for yours posts guys , Hope you all enjoy more too come ...
Last edited by OldRamsfan; -06-02-2006 at 03:26 AM.