About the National Football League

The National Football League is the largest professional
American football league in the world. The modern NFL was
created in 1970 by absorbing the American Football League’s ten
teams. The merger created a unified pro football league, which
has since become the most popular sport in America for nearly
three decades in a row.

Though baseball is traditionally the sport associated with
the United States, the numbers don’t lie. More Americans watch
the NFL on TV than any other sport. More Americans attend
football games than attend any other sport. And more Americans
participate in fantasy sports versions of football, both pro and
collegiate, than any other fantasy sport.

The National Football League is not just the most popular
sports league in the country, it’s a huge industry. NFL team
values have skyrocketed over the past couple of decades, to the
point that the majority of the list of the most valuable sports
teams is taken up by NFL franchises. The NFL is at the center of
America’s massive entertainment industry, is the basis of an
advertising juggernaut, and stands at the apex of professional
American sport.

This page is designed to introduce you to the NFL. It covers
its history, its traditions, its teams, and a whole lot more
too. The following is a list of all the sections on this page,
and you can simply click the relevant button if you want to jump
straight to a section that interests you.

NFL History

The game of football owes an obvious debt to rugby. Before
football was formalized in 1876, rugby was by far the most
popular sport at the collegiate level in America. By 1896, the
sport was so popular at colleges, some players were being paid
hundreds of dollars in exchange for playing for a university.
But the game played in the late 19th century doesn’t resemble
the modern game of NFL football much at all. For starters, field
goals were worth five points and touchdowns were worth just
four. Another big difference – a final score of 5-0 or 5-4 was
common, as was a tie of 0-0.

The Earliest Days of the NFL

In 1902, the first league calling itself the NFL was formed.
This National Football League had just three franchise members:
a group of amateur mine workers calling themselves Kaneweola AC,
the Philadelphia Athletics (pro baseball players looking to make
extra money during the off-season), and the Pittsburgh Stars.
This league lasted exactly one three-game season, and at
season’s end, all three teams tried to claim the national title.

The forward pass wasn’t officially legalized until four years
after the first National Football League’s collapse. In 1906,
semi-pro leagues across the country embraced the change, and
immediately other rules were affected. Field goal values
dropped, first to four points, and eventually to three.
Touchdown values increased from four points to five, and
eventually six.

1906 was also the year of the first major betting scandal in
pro football history – a minor league in Ohio was found to be
complicity in organized crime activity. The scandal caused a
temporary collapse in the popularity of the sport.

By 1920, American professional football was in a state of
chaos. Salaries had risen dramatically, to the point that small
markets couldn’t compete for the better players. Without
regulations governing trades and player movement, it was
impossible for a team to build a stable lineup. Different rules
between different leagues was seen as the major reason for lack
of fan interest. Because of all these problems, a group of Ohio
pro teams (among them, not a single team currently still playing
football) decided that one large league with standardized rules
would be more appealing to audiences. This was the birth of the
American Professional Football Conference, the first major pro
league in history.

The AFPC quickly morphed into the AFPA, a league with a 22
team membership. The Green Bay Packers were early signees to the
new league, run by John Clair of the Acme Packing Company.
Another team in this proto-NFL was the Decatur Staleys, who
would soon move to Chicago and become the Chicago Bears. In
1922, the American Professional Football Association changed its
name to the National Football League.

The NFL: A Growing Professional League

The next four decades were a time of the refining of rules,
scheduling issues, financial regulations, and roster sizes. The
modern game of football owes a great debt to the rule changes
that took place in these early days of the NFL, before the
merger of 1970 created the modern league as we know it.

The merger came about because of competition between the
American Football League and the NFL. The AFL was founded in
1960 by people who’d been denied expansion franchises or were
frustrated by the restrictions placed on them as minor
shareholders in large NFL franchises. No one in the NFL was
worried about the AFL until that league signed 75% of the NFL’s
first round draft picks in its first year. The AFL premiered
with eight teams.

AFL Founding Teams

  • New York Titans
  • Boston Patriots
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Houston Oilers
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Dallas Texans

All of these would appear in one form or another in the NFL,
and all are still playing in the post-merger league. Though the
AFL struggled to keep up with the NFL’s popularity in general,
its television contract with ABC (and later NBC) kept the league
afloat. Since the AFL was more offense-minded, with rules that
slightly favored offenses over defenses, it was the first
hugely-popular TV sports league.

The 1970 AFL-NFL Merger

With rising costs affecting both leagues, and too many
examples of player sniping ruining schedules and team strategy,
the leagues agreed to a partial merger in 1966. This was a
hybrid league – the two leagues only competed once per year, in
the league championship game. The only other connection was a
common draft, designed to condense the talent pool and create
more parity in both leagues. But this hybridization incorporated
planned obsolescence – one of the stipulations was that both
leagues would be fully-merged by 1970.

Baseball Player

A totally intentional side effect of the merger was
the escalation of the NFL’s popularity above and beyond baseball, the
country’s traditional pastime.

The new NFL had a team within an hours’ drive of each of the
country’s top-40 metro areas, and the new more powerful league
was able to execute contracts to have their games shown on each
of the big three TV networks. Both sides of the merger could
claim a victory. The AFL gained legitimacy by becoming the AFC
and joining the NFL – the NFL gained popularity by incorporating
some of the new offensive rules in place in the AFL and by
swelling to 26 teams overnight.

The decade immediately following the merger was another time
of growth for the league. Hash marks were moved for the first
time in forty years. Ties were incorporated into the scoring
system. Teams moved, built stadiums, and then moved again. 1973
brought us the first telecast of the Super Bowl, a tradition
that now stands in for football as a whole. That same year, the
jersey numbering system was standardized, so that it’s easy to
tell what position a player holds by the number on their jersey.

Football Comes Into Its Own

Much of the success of the modern NFL is laid at the feet of
former league Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Rozelle led the league
from 1960 to 1989, overseeing the merger with the AFL, the
expansion to 32 teams, and some major rule and culture changes
in the league. During his tenure, average attendance increased
six-fold, from just under three million a year in 1960 to just
over eighteen million a year by 1989. Though the Super Bowl
wasn’t televised until Rozelle’s thirteenth year in office, by
the end of his time as commissioner, 400 million people were
watching the game each year.

Increases in league parity, changes to television contracts,
a solid collective bargaining agreement, and a number of
disciplinary changes are due to the influence of Paul Tagliabue
throughout the 80s and 90s. In fact, you could say that the
recent history of the NFL is more of a history of the league’s
commissioners.

NFL Commissioners

The role of the NFL commissioner is an important one. It’s
one of three defined officer positions in the National Football
League, with the other two being the secretary and the
treasurer. Both of those two positions are appointed by the
commissioner, who has several other responsibilities too.

The NFL commissioner handles disputes between clubs, players,
coaches and other employees. He is also responsible for the
recruitment of league employees and the negotiation of media
contracts. He has the power to discipline NFL teams, and the
owners of teams, should they breach the laws of the league or
behave in a manner that is considered to be to the detriment of
the league. This power can extend to handing out fines,
suspensions, and a variety of other punishments.

Below is some information on each of the men who have held
the role of NFL commissioner.

Elmer Layden (1941 – 1946)

Elmer Layden was the first man who could truly call himself a
football commissioner, though he served three decades before the
merger into the modern NFL. Elmer Layden was elected by the
franchise owners of teams in the National Football League to do
for football what Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain
Landis was doing for baseball. Layden is best remembered as a
member of the Four Horseman and coach of the 1938 National
Champion Notre Dame football team. His time as NFL commissioner
is mostly forgotten because it was uneventful. He was replaced
for being too much of a gentleman.

Bert Bell (1946-1959)

Bert Bell had a long tenure but was victim to most of the
same complaints lobbied against Elmer Layden. He coined the
phrase “On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.”
He dealt with a couple of small-scale betting scandals, avoiding
public scrutiny. Bell’s biggest impact on the modern NFL was the
invention of revenue-sharing, which allows small-market teams to
compete with teams from big cities. That system is still in use
today. Bert Bell died in the stands at a game between the Eagles
and the Steelers, at the exact moment Philadelphia scored a
game-winning touchdown.

Pete Rozelle (1960-1989)

Pete Rozelle’s election to the role of NFL commissioner was
seen as a compromise between feuding franchise owners. Rozelle
was the GM of the then-Los Angeles Rams at the time of the
election, and his name didn’t even appear on the first five
ballots. Though he was a dark horse candidate, he was clearly
the man for the job. Pete Rozelle’s impact on the modern game
can’t be understated. At the beginning of his tenure, the NFL
was a twelve-team league playing twelve games a year to tiny
stadiums half-filled with bored fans. By the late 1980s, his
league will have more than doubled in size, taken over the role
of “national pastime” from baseball, and produced billions of
dollars in revenue thanks to exclusive broadcast deals with
major television networks. The 1970 merger took place under
Rozelle’s watch. The rules changed so many times, it’s difficult
to remember what the game was like before 1960. Rozelle’s
retirement in 1989 was bittersweet; it was also the last time
that NFL owners would in large part be on friendly terms with
the commissioner.

Paul Tagliabue (1989-2006)

Paul Tagliabue’s tenure as commissioner gets a bad rap. Yes,
growing revenue disparity concentrated high-quality players in a
small number of teams. Yes, Tagliabue and the league ignored
warning signs about concussions and performance-enhancing drug
abuse. Yes, Tagliabue oversaw the league during a veritable
plague of player crimes, mainly domestic abuse and other violent
offenses. But as a manager, Paul Tagliabue (the league’s former
lead attorney) presided over nearly two decades with no labor
disputes or lockouts, and he oversaw the expansion of the NFL
into six new markets. Tagliabue managed to maintain a friendly
relationship with player representatives and the player’s union,
while at least paying lip service to cleaning up the game’s
image, with ever-increasing penalties for excessive celebration.

Roger Goodell (2006 – present)

Goodell was the obvious choice for commissioner to replace
Tagliabue. He was Tagliabue’s next-in-line, his right-hand man,
his student. Goodell’s appointment was met with little surprise
or enthusiasm. Agree or disagree with Goodell’s policies, you
have to admit that he’s made a lot of noise in the past decade:

  • Increased the sport’s profile in foreign markets,
    particularly England
  • The “Personal Conduct Policy”
  • A quick and thoughtful response to Spygate (and a
    less-thoughtful and maybe too quick response to Deflategate)
  • Reaching a nearly-$1 billion settlement with former
    players over brain damage
  • Discussions of expansion with Las Vegas, Mexico City,
    other new markets

NFL Player Positions

In American professional football, each team fields eleven
players. Every player has a designated position that outlines
his specific role in the game.

Below is a guide to every position that players fill in the
modern NFL. We organized the positions by three broad
categories: offense, defense, and special teams. We did that to
mirror the way teams have traditionally organized their players.

Positions on Offense

Quarterback (QB)

Numbers: 1-19

The quarterback takes the football from the center to start
each play. Usually, the QB takes the responsibility for
play-calling in certain game situations, and at very least is
the player who takes the signal from the sideline and
communicates the play to the offense. Once the ball has been
“snapped” (passed from the center to the QB), the quarterback
can make one of three choices.

  • He can run the ball
  • He can choose to hand the ball to any eligible player
  • He can thhow a forward pass to a reciever further down the field

Quarterbacks are some of the best-known and highest-profile
players in the league. The best quarterbacks command high
salaries and make fortunes in endorsement deals.

Famous quarterbacks include Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, and Brett Favre.

Running Back (RB/FB)

Numbers: 20-49

Running backs line up behind the offensive line and stand
near enough to the quarterback to accept the ball and make a run
for it. Teams can use anywhere from zero to three running backs
in a play. Traditionally, running backs are broken up into two
categories – standard running backs, who tend to be quick but
strong with good hands for receiving, and fullbacks, who often
serve as blockers and guards and tend to be stronger and not as
fast.

Famous running backs include Jim Brown, Emmet Smith, and
LaDainian Thomlinson.

Wide Receiver (WR)

Numbers: 10-19 / 80-89

Wide receivers specialize in catching passes. Sometimes, wide
receivers are called on to block, especially on run plays.
Generally, receivers line up in two split groups on either
sideline at the start of each play. Receivers can line up in any
position behind the line of scrimmage. The ideal wide receiver
body is lithe and quick – they are often the lightest and
fastest players on the offense.

Famous wide receivers include Don Hutson, Jerry Rice, and Randy Moss.

Tight End (TE)

Numbers: 40-49 / 80-89

The tight end position is a hybrid of lineman, receiver, and
running back. Teams can have anywhere from zero to two TEs on
any play. They tend to lineup on either end of the line, next to
the OTs. Tight ends are usually called on to block more than to
catch a pass or run the ball. They are, however, eligible
receivers, and many NFL teams have taken advantage of that fact,
packing the ends of the line with big guys that can catch the
ball in tough spots. The ideal body type for the modern tight
end is big, tall, and quick.

Famous tight ends include John Mackey, Shannon Sharpe, and Tony Gonzalez.

Center (C)

Numbers: 50-79

The center starts the play from the line of scrimmage by
snapping the ball, usually to the quarterback. Taking up the
middle of the offensive line, the center is often the shortest,
heaviest, and strongest player on the offense. Like the other
offensive linemen, centers are responsible for both blocking the
defensive line and creating holes. The center tends to be the
leader of the O-line, calling out changes to blocking and other
adjustments.

Famous centers include Jim Ringo, Jim Otto, and Mike Webster.

Offensive Guard (LG/RG)

Numbers: 50-79

Two guards line up on either side of the center on every
down. They are traditionally referred to as the left and right
guards, though most players can perform from either position.
The job of these interior linemen is to block, regardless of
whether the play is on the ground or in the air. Guards
sometimes also “pull” to create holes for runners to move
through. The ideal body type to play guard would be shorter,
stockier, and more athletic than an offensive tackle, but still
taller than the center. This is a surprisingly under-appreciated
position, since they’re usually called for false start and
holding, and don’t get a chance to put up numbers. Still, a good
pair of guards can turn a good running game into a legendary
one.

Famous guards include Gene Upshaw, Randall McDaniel, and Larry Allen.

Offensive Tackle (LT/RT)

Numbers: 50-79

The two linemen who play outside of each guard are called
offensive tackles. The OT on the left is the left tackle; the OT
on the right is the right tackle. They mainly block, though
occasionally they’re called on to create motion or a hole for a
runner. Since most of the best QBs in the league are
right-handed, the left tackle is a pivotal role on the line.
This player has to protect his quarterback from being hit on his
blind side. In fact, the left tackle is usually the smartest and
most talented player on the line. The ideal body size for an
offensive tackle is massive and inhumanly tall – the bigger and
taller, the better.

Famous offensive tackles include Forrest Gregg, John Hannah, and Anthony Munoz.

Positions on Defense

Defensive Tackle (DT)

Numbers: 50-79 / 90-99

Think of DTs as defensive guards – they play at the center of
the D-line generally opposite of the offensive line’s guards.
Their goal, and only goal, is to rush to whomever is holding the
football and tackle them. This is usually the passer, but can
also be a running back or receiver behind the line of scrimmage.
DTs are the giants of the defensive line – the ideal body size
for defensive tackles is 6’6” and 300+ pounds. But they also
need excellent hands and as much agility as is possible.

Famous defensive tackles include Joe Greene, Reggie White, and Bruce Smith.

Defensive End (LE/RE)

Numbers: 50-79 / 90-99

Each defensive line has two defensive ends that line up next
to the DTs. These players control the ends of the D-line. Their
first goal is to attack the passer, their second goal is to
disrupt the pass, and as a final goal, they may attempt to stop
a run play. Traditionally, modern defensive ends are positioned
based on speed. The faster DE lines up on the right side of the
line – the QB’s left side – in order to take advantage of the
blind side. The player most interchangeable with defensive ends
are linebackers – in fact, they generally have the same body
type. Both DEs and LBs should be tall, and while modern LBs tend
to be lighter and faster, they come in all shapes and sizes
depending on the needs of the defense.

Famous defensive ends include Gino Marchetti, Reggie White, and Julius Peppers.

Linebacker (MLB/OLB)

Numbers: 40-59 / 90-99

Linebackers are the headhunters of the defense. They usually
line up behind the defensive line. Their duties depend on the
style of the team’s defense, the game situation, and their
abilities. Modern linebackers are generally broken up into two
categories – middle linebackers, who line up in line with the
center of the D-line, and outside linebackers, who flank the MLB
position. Linebackers are responsible for putting pressure on
the QB, while covering receivers and providing a general
defensive net against run plays.

Famous linebackers include Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor, and Ray Lewis.

Cornerback (CB)

Numbers: 20-49 (can wear 1-9 during preseason only)

One of two positions considered “defensive backs,”
cornerbacks are typically two players whose only job is to cover
wide receivers. Cornerbacks are quick and dirty pass disruptors,
skilled at swatting and confusing the direction of airborne
balls. Cornerbacks are generally more likely to catch
interceptions based on their skill set and position on the
field. Cornerbacks are always shorter, lighter, and have better
hand skills than safeties.

Famous cornerbacks include Dick “Night Train” Lane, Rod Woodson, and Darelle Revis.

Safety (S)

Numbers: 20-49 (can wear 1-9 during preseason only)

Taller, heavier, and less athletic than cornerbacks, safeties
are defensive backs who line up the farthest from the line of
scrimmage of any player on the field. They play an assistant
role for cornerbacks, providing deep-pass coverage and a last
line of defense in case of a breakout run play. Safeties in the
modern game are broken up into two categories – the strong
safety (SS) and the free safety (FS). Strong safeties are the
biggest and strongest defensive backs, while free safeties are
small and quick, playing deep in the field and only getting
involved in the case of a long bomb.

Famous safeties include Yale Lary, Ronnie Lott, and Ed Reed.

Positions on Special Teams

Kicker (K/P)

Numbers: 1-19

The kicker is responsible for kicking extra points, field
goals, and kickoffs. Some teams have a specialized kicker for
punts and one for shorter-field kicks or PATs. Kickers are
usually small, no heavier than 190 pounds or so and no taller
than six feet. They’re often trained in soccer and rarely
perform any other role on the team.

Famous kickers include Lou Groza, Reggie Roby, and Adam Vinatieri.

Long-Snapper (LS)

Numbers: Any

Long-snappers are specialized players that fulfill an
unofficial role. Long-snappers need the particular ability to
snap the ball very long distances with pinpoint accuracy.
Generally, centers with this special talent fulfill this role,
though not every long-snapper in the business has been an
offensive lineman.

Famous long-snappers include Justin Snow, Ethan Albright, and
Jay Alford.

Returner (PR/KR)

Numbers: Any

A punt- or kick-returner is usually a wide receiver,
defensive back, or running back, though technically any position
can play this part. The returner is positioned to catch punts or
kicks and is usually the fastest and most agile player
available. The returner’s profile has increased in the modern
NFL – more and more returns for TDs are being recorded each year
as this specialist role is perfected. The ideal punt- or
kick-returner is tall and lithe with great hands.

Famous returners include Herschel Walker, Deion Sanders, and Devin Hester.

Modern Game Rules

American-style football has evolved over the past 125 years,
from a variant of rugby and soccer to a unique game with a
massive global following and billions in total revenue. Let’s
take a look at how some major rules of the game have changed
since its invention.

Roughing the Passer

This rule prohibits making contact with the passer after he’s
completed the pass. The rule wasn’t added until 1938, when the
act of hitting the passer once the ball left his hand was
labeled “unnecessary roughness.” This rule change codified a
tradition whereby referees called a foul if the QB was hit,
unless he was obviously still in play. This rule change,
combined with the rule allowing forward passes in the 1920s, led
directly to the creation of the QB-dominant league we see today.

The Use of Helmets

Helmets were not required equipment for football players
until 1943. This sounds crazy to fans of the modern game,
especially considering the debate raging today over concussions
and the dangers of football. What led to the requirement for
helmets? Massive numbers of players dying from injuries received
during play. By 1943, an average of twenty people per year were
killed due to injuries sustained while not wearing a helmet.

Dead Ball and Face Mask Rules

These days, the ball is considered dead if the runner touches
the ground with any part of the body except his hands or feet
“while in the grasp of an opponent.” This hasn’t always been the
case. In the days before the rule change in 1955, runners were
sometimes called down for touching the ground with their hands.
Other leagues didn’t call a runner down until he was flat on his
back. Why was the rule changed? Teams in the 50s were mainly
concerned with low audience turnout. By codifying a number of
rules and creating a standard, the game was easier to follow.

A year later, a rule against “grasping the face mask of any
opponent except a runner” was standardized, and a penalty of
five yards established for breaking the rule. Within five years,
the problem of head trauma after face mask content had gotten so
serious, the penalty was increased to 15 yards with the
possibility of a flagrant foul and ejection.

Blocks Below the Waist

In 1974, a series of rule changes were implemented to further
protect players. The main rule added to league play went as
follows.

“Eligible receivers who take a position more than two yards
from the tackle, whether on or behind the line, may not be
blocked below the waist at or behind the line of scrimmage.”

The rule clarifies further that no receiver, eligible or not,
can be blocked below the waist past the line of scrimmage.
Blocks below the waist were sometimes called “crackback blocks,”
and the 1974 rule changes were designed to regulate them. For
example, one of the rules added prevented contact below the
waist against blockers moving toward the ball. These illegal
blocks were seen as so dangerous, the league implemented a
15-yard penalty and potential ejection for each offense.

Unnecessary Roughness

Though a penalty for “unnecessary roughness” had been part of
the league since its earliest days, the penalty had never been
codified until a group of players in 1979 threatened to strike
unless certain demands were met. One was a demand for the
addition of several hits under the unnecessary roughness
umbrella:

  • Non-contact acts like throwing a punch or arm or kicking
    or pushing an opponent outside of play. This rule was later
    amended as an additional “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty.
  • The use of a helmet to “butt, spear, or ram an
    opponent.” This rule also prevented the use of the “crown or
    top of the helmet” unnecessarily.
  • A chop hit by a player in the backfield, especially when
    used on an outside rusher on a pass play.

Horse-Collar Tackles

For decades, players had used the back of a player’s padding
for assistance in tackling. A horse-collar tackle was one where
the defender would grab the back collar of an opponent’s
shoulder pads and pull them directly downward, sweeping the
player’s feet out from under them. Tackles of this nature can
lead to serious injury in several parts of the body.

Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams was the best-known practitioner of the horse-collar tackle.

Banned in 2005, the tackle has fallen out of fashion to the
point that most teams won’t see a single call all season.

NFL Team Guide

Here’s a guide to each of the NFL’s thirty-two teams. We’ve
broken our guide up into conferences and divisions, because that
seemed like the most logical way to organize the list.

American Football Conference

The AFC was created after the merger of the American Football
League with the National Football League in 1970. The modern AFC
has been dominated by just a few teams – only six teams have
represented the AFC in the Super Bowl since the year 2000. By
contrast, the NFC has sent eleven teams for the same job. Here’s
a look at each team in the AFC, broken up by division.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 4 appearances

All-time W-L: 425-483-8 (47%)

The Buffalo Bills play at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard
Park, New York. The Bills are an original franchise of the
American Football League, competing in every NFL season since
the 1970 merger. Though the team won back-to-back AFL
championships in ’64 and ’65, the team has yet to claim an NFL
title, coming up short four years in a row in the early 90s.
That Bills team regularly stumbled against a juggernaut Dallas
Cowboys dynasty which would go on to win three Super Bowl
titles.

Miami Dolphins
Established:1966

NFL Championships: 2 wins out of 5 appearances

All-time W-L: 457-371-4 (55%)

The Miami Dolphins play at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens,
Florida. The Dolphins are the oldest NFL franchise in the
American South, having joined the American Football League in
1966. The 1972 Dolphins are the only NFL team to finish an
entire season undefeated. Among the winningest franchises in
modern sports, the Dolphins are in the middle of a major playoff
drought. The team has reached the postseason just once in the
past fifteen years.

New England Patriots
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 6 wins out of 11 appearances

All-time W-L: 512-395-9 (56%)

The New England Patriots play at Gillette Stadium in
Foxborough, Massachusetts. Since the arrival of head coach Bill
Belichick in the year 2000, the Patriots have become one of the
most successful teams in the NFL, missing the postseason just
three times in twenty seasons. Belichick and his former star QB Tom
Brady have won six Super Bowl titles together, while winning
73.6% of the time. Before the Belichick era, the Patriots were
historic also-rans. But there’s been a dark side to Belichick’s
leadership – the Patriots were caught spying on opposing teams
at least twice during Coach Belichick’s reign, and Tom Brady was
at one time suspended for an entire season for his role in a
deflated football fiasco.

New York Jets
Established: 1959

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 0 appearances

All-time W-L: 408-500-8 (45%)

The New York Jets play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,
New Jersey. The Jets were an original member of the American
Football League, winning Super Bowl III against the Baltimore
Colts. Though the Jets are one of the more storied franchises in
the league, they’ve had little postseason success. The team
hasn’t appeared in a Super Bowl since 1968. The rivalry between
the Jets and the New England Patriots is one of the liveliest in
all of sports.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens
Established: 1996

NFL Championships: 2 wins out of 2 appearances

All-time W-L: 214-169-1 (56%)

The Baltimore Ravens play at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore,
Maryland. The Ravens are the epitome of a successful expansion
team, having joined the league in 1999 as part of a deal the NFL
made to keep the Browns in Cleveland. During their two-decade
run, the Ravens have racked up two Super Bowl titles, two
conference championships, and a reputation for brutal defense.
The Ravens are the 24th most valuable sports franchise in the
world, one of the NFL’s few billion-dollar value teams.

Cincinnati Bengals
Established: 1968

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 2 appearances

All-time W-L: 359-441-4 (44%)

The Cincinnati Bengals play at Paul Brown Stadium in
Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals heyday was the 1980s, when the
team appeared in the only two Super Bowl games in franchise
history. Both times, the Bengals were defeated by a tough 49ers
squad. Cincinnati is experiencing a new flash of football
success, having appeared in the playoffs four seasons in a row.
Young phenom QB Andy Dalton has played a major part in the
revitalization of the program but the success has faded in recent years.

Cleveland Browns
Established: 1946

NFL Championships: 0 appearances

All-time W-L: 475-500-11 (49%)

The Cleveland Browns play at FirstEnergy Stadium in
Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland has not seen much success over the
years. The Browns haven’t won a conference championship since
before the NFL-AFL merger of 1970. Recent history hasn’t changed
the team’s legacy much – the Browns haven’t made the playoffs in
twelve years. In fact, Cleveland hasn’t won a playoff game since
1989, the longest standing drought in the league. Part of the
reason for the Browns’ modern struggles has been poor player
management and a lack of luck at the draft table. Cleveland
hasn’t had a player enshrined in the Hall of Fame since Ozzie
Newsome, who officially retired in 1990.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Established: 1933

NFL Championships: 6 out of 8 appearances

All-time W-L: 636-566-22 (52%)

The Pittsburgh Steelers play at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. Before the merger, the Steelers were the oldest
team to never win a championship. Since 1970, the Steelers have
been the most successful team on paper in the NFL. No team in
the league has won more Super Bowl titles or hosted more
conference championships than the Steelers. Pittsburgh has been
the home of two legitimate NFL dynasties. Terry Bradshaw and an
infamous defense produced 4 titles in the 70s, while Ben
Roethlisberger and Hines Ward won two high-profile Super Bowl
games in the early 2000s.

AFC South

Houston Texans
Established: 2002

NFL Championships: 0 appearances

All-time W-L: 131-157-0 (46%)

The Houston Texans play at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The
Texans were added to the NFL in 2002, after the controversial
relocation of the Oilers to Tennessee in 1996. Expansion has not
been easy in Houston; the Texans have just two playoff
appearances to their credit, and have the dubious honor of being
the NFL franchise that’s taken the longest to win its first 100
games. The team’s best-known asset is JJ Watt, the defensive
powerhouse considered by many to be the single most valuable
player in the league.

Indianapolis Colts
Established: 1953

NFL Championships: 2 wins out of 7 appearances

All-time W-L: 523-468-7 (53%)

The Indianapolis Colts play at Lucas Oil Stadium in
Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts are an original NFL franchise,
having switched over to the AFC as part of the NFL-AFL merger
negotiations in 1970. Originally located in Baltimore, the team
was moved to Indianapolis literally overnight, much to the
chagrin of local fans, who supported the team for the better
part of three decades. The Colts are a modern league success
story, having appeared in the playoffs every season but one
since 2002.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Established: 1993

NFL Championships: 0 appearances

All-time W-L: 179-224 (44%)

The Jacksonville Jaguars play at EverBank Field in
Jacksonville, Florida. Added to the league in 1995, as part of
an expansion that included the addition of the Carolina
Panthers, Jacksonville is a small-market team that’s met with
limited success. The Jaguars have appeared in the playoffs just
seven times since their inception, with no conference
championships or Super Bowl titles to their credit. EverBank
Field is currently home to the world’s largest digital
scoreboards.

Tennessee Titans
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 440-470-6 (48%)

The Tennessee Titans play at Nissan Stadium in Nashville,
Tennessee. The team moved to Tennessee from Houston in 1997,
switching names from the Oilers to the Titans. Though the Oilers
had some solid success in the league during their time in
Houston, the Tennessee branch of the team’s history has won just
one conference championship, in 1999. That year, the first that
the team was called the Titans, they got to the Super Bowl
through a wild card berth. The team was largely made up of
former Houston Oilers players. Tennessee hasn’t made a playoff
appearance since 2008.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 2 wins out of 7 appearances

All-time W-L: 483-423-10 (53%)

The Denver Broncos play at Sports Authority Field in Denver,
Colorado. The story of the Broncos is fascinating because the
team was so unsuccessful in its early years. The Broncos didn’t
record a winning record in its first thirteen seasons. Since
1979, the Broncos have recorded just six losing records, winning
seven conference titles and two Super Bowl championships along
the way. John Elway, roundly considered one of the greatest
football players of all time, played his entire career in
Denver. The team has continued its QB-driven success, signing
Peyton Manning away from the Colts in 2012.

Kansas City Chiefs
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 1 win out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 481-423-12 (53%)

The Kansas City Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas
City, Missouri. Though the Chiefs were a charter member of the
American Football League, and have been a part of the NFL since
the 1970 merger, the team has yet to win a conference
championship or appear in a Super Bowl since that year. The
Chiefs were an up-and-coming squad in the early 1990s, perennial
playoff contenders, but failed to capitalize on the success of
Marty Schottenheimer beyond the divisional round. This all changed in 2020 when Patrick Mahomes happened.

Las Vegas Raiders
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 3 wins out of 4 appearances

All-time W-L: 473-432-11 (52%)

The Las Vegas Raider will now play their games at Allegiant in Las Vegas. The Raiders joined the American Football League
before the merger that created the modern NFL. In the leagues’
first two decades, the Raiders were a powerhouse, winning the
Super Bowl three times in the span of seven seasons. Since
moving to (and returning from) Los Angeles, the Raiders haven’t
been able to replicate their early success, winning just four
playoff games in the past twenty-five years. Hopefully their luck changes with another city change.

Los Angeles Chargers
Established: 1959

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 452-453-11 (50%)

Formerly based in San Diego since 1961, the Chargers
moved to Los Angeles in 2017 and operate out of the SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park. The Bolts are not known for producing elite seasons
in terms of wins or titles, but the franchise has always been
good for exciting offensive production. Philip Rivers and Dan
Fouts give the Chargers two Hall of Fame caliber passers,
while franchise-leading rusher LaDainian Tomlinson gave the
Bolts one of the most dynamic running backs the league has
ever seen.

The National Football Conference (NFC)

The NFC is the AFC’s counterpart, also created as part of the
NFL-AFL merger of 1970. The NFC is considered the conference of
parity – only one NFC team (the Detroit Lions) has never
appeared in the Super Bowl. Only one NFC team (the Seattle
Seahawks) has made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances since the
league realignment in 2002. Here’s a guide to each team in the
National Football Conference, broken up by division.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 5 wins out of 10 appearances

All-time W-L: 520-388-6 (57%)

The Dallas Cowboys play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“America’s Team” is a controversial one, for a number of
reasons. The Cowboys have the highest regular-season winning
percentage in modern league history. They’ve won five Super
Bowls, and have appeared in the second-most title games overall.
Dallas is the home of fifteen Hall of Fame players, with 22
division titles to their credit. But along with success on the
field has come trouble off it – today’s Dallas Cowboys team is
rife with discipline problems, peripatetic roster shuffling, and
an overactive rumor mill. Dallas experienced two legitimate NFL
dynasties in the 1970s and 1990s.

New York Giants
Established: 1925

NFL Championships: 4 wins out of 5 appearances

All-time W-L: 696-608-33 (53%)

The New York Giants play at MetLife Stadium in East
Rutherford, New Jersey. New York joined the league in 1925, and
are the only of those five original franchises to still be
active. The Giants have appeared in more total championship
games than any other franchise, going back to the pre-merger
days. The Giants’ rivalry with the Philadelphia Eagles goes back
to 1933, and is considered the best in the modern NFL. The
team’s seven playoff appearances since 2000 represents a major
turnaround in fortune from the dark days of the 1990s.

Philadelphia Eagles
Established: 1933

NFL Championships: 1 wins out of 3 appearances

All-time W-L: 586-608-26 (49%)

The Philadelphia Eagles play at Lincoln Financial Field in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though the Eagles were perennial
playoff contenders throughout the 2000s, they have not been a
historically-successful team. Between 1962 and 1975,
Philadelphia registered just one winning season. The arrival of
Ron Jaworksi brought the city its first taste of NFL success,
with four consecutive playoff appearances to start the 1980s.

Washington Football Team
Established: 1932

NFL Championships: 3 wins out of 5 appearances

All-time W-L: 603-603-28 (50%)

The Washington Football Team play at FedEx Field in Landover,
Maryland. The Washington Football Team have been marred in recent years by
controversy over their mascot name and overall poor performances
on the field – the team has won just one playoff game since
1999. It’s difficult to watch the team struggling considering
their history as a true power in the NFL. Between 1982 and 1991,
Washington appeared in the postseason seven times, winning four
conference championships along the way, along with three Super
Bowls.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
Established: 1919

NFL Championships: 1 win out of 2 appearances

All-time W-L: 769-591-42 (56%)

The Chicago Bears play at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.
Chicago is another of the NFL’s storied franchises, founded in
1919 before the first professional leagues even existed. The
Bears hold the record for most players enshrined in the Hall of
Fame and most retired jerseys. Despite all that buzz, the Bears
have won the NFL’s Super Bowl just once, in 1985, under Mike
Ditka. The team has won the conference just once since that
time, in 2006, behind a powerful defense and the
flash-in-the-pan talent of QB Rex Grossman.

Detroit Lions
Established: 1930

NFL Championships: 0 appearances

All-time W-L: 565-670-33 (46%)

The Detroit Lions play at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
The Lions won four championships before the 1970 merger, but
have yet to appear in a Super Bowl game since that time. The
Lions are the only NFC team to never appear in the league’s
championship game. Detroit has struggled to reach the playoffs,
doing so just eleven times since 1970. The Lions haven’t won a
playoff game since 1993, and turned in an 0-16 record in 2008.

Green Bay Packers
Established: 1919

NFL Championships: 2 wins out of 3 appearances

All-time W-L: 756-574-38 (57%)

The Green Bay Packers play at Lambeau Field in Green Bay,
Wisconsin. The Packers were organized in 1919 before the advent
of professional football, and are the oldest team in the league
that still operates from its original location. Green Bay is the
only non-profit community-owned major sports team in the United
States, and it appears that structure has worked well for them.
The Packers are among the most successful teams in the league,
with seventeen division credits, multiple conference titles, and
two Super Bowls on the shelf.

Minnesota Vikings
Established: 1960

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 3 appearances

All-time W-L: 488-403-11 (55%)

The Minnesota Vikings play at TCF Bank Stadium in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. Considered the most successful team to
have never won a Super Bowl, Minnesota was the first expansion
team in the NFL. The team has won three conference titles,
eighteen division titles, and has been a perennial playoff
contender since 1988. Fun fact: Vikings QB Brad Johnson is the
only NFL player to throw a TD to himself, doing so in 1997 after
catching his own deflected pass and running it in for six
points.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Established: 1965

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 365-461-6 (45%)

The Atlanta Falcons play at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta,
Georgia, but will soon move to the brand-new Mercedes-Benz
Stadium being built across the street. The Falcons are a
difficult team to break down, because their limited success has
come in fits and spurts. Atlanta has never claimed back-to-back
division or conference titles. Under QB Matt Ryan, the Falcons
have become a respectable opponent again, reaching the playoffs
four times, for a playoff record of 2-2.

Carolina Panthers
Established: 1993

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 195-204-1 (49%)

The Carolina Panthers play at Bank of America Stadium in
Charlotte, North Carolina. Though the Panthers finished 7-9 in
their first season as an expansion team, it would be a decade
before Carolina won more games than it lost. The 2003 edition of
the Panthers, nicknamed the Cardiac Cats for their many close
wins, went 11-5 under QB Jake Delhomme and very nearly beat the
New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, if not for a heroic
kick by the Pats’ Adam Vinatieri. The acquisition of young QB
Cam Newton has put the Panthers in the spotlight again, with two
consecutive playoff appearances and an undefeated start to the
2015 season.

New Orleans Saints
Established: 1966

NFL Championships: 1 win out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 375-438-5 (46%)

The New Orleans Saints play at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New
Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints were easily the NFL’s worst team
for the first three decades of their existence, failing to win a
playoff game until the year 2000. The 2009 Saints are by far the
highlight of the team’s history, winning 13 games and bringing
the Super Bowl trophy back home to Louisiana for the first (and
so far only) time ever.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Established: 1976

NFL Championships: 1 win out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 267-424-1 (39%)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at Raymond James Stadium in
Tampa Bay, Florida. The Buccaneers have the unlucky title of
“least successful NFL team in history,” thanks to a winning
percentage that’s hovered around 38% for the better part of a
decade. After a brief winning stretch during the late 70s and
early 80s, the Buccaneers had 14 losing seasons in a row. Their
2002 Super Bowl win came after a decade’s struggle for
relevancy, and the team has never recovered from the aftermath
of that victory. Tampa Bay is currently in the middle of an
eight season playoff drought but they’re hoping that Tom Brady can turn that around.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Established: 1891

NFL Championships: 0 wins out of 1 appearance

All-time W-L: 558-763-41 (45%)

The Arizona Cardinals play at University of Phoenix Stadium
in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals have been an organized
football club since the late 19th century, long before
professional football was even a consideration. The Cardinals
have among the lowest winning percentage in NFL history – with
just one conference championship and a handful of divisional
titles to their credit. The Cardinals are the oldest pro
football team to have never won a league championship.

Los Angeles Rams
Established: 1936

NFL Championships: 1 win out of 3 appearances

All-time W-L: 540-542-21 (50%)

The Los Angeles Rams returned home in 2017, following
an over 20-year stay in St. Louis, Missouri. The franchise’s
time outside of L.A. has proven to be their most successful,
as famed stars such as Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Torry
Holt led the team to two Super Bowl appearances and their lone
championship. Now operating in the SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park,
the Rams push forward with a youth movement led by Jared Goff and head coach, Sean McVay.

San Francisco 49ers
Established: 1946

NFL Championships: 5 wins out of 7 appearances

All-time W-L: 545-475-14 (54%)

The San Francisco 49ers play at Levi’s Stadium in Santa
Clara, California. A charter member of the old AAFC league, the
team has been in professional contention for seven decades. The
49ers won four Super Bowls in the 80s and another in the 90s on
the backs of QBs Joe Montana and Steve Young. Though the team
recently snapped a decade-long playoff drought, San Francisco
has never been as good as those teams in the 1980s.

Seattle Seahawks
Established: 1974

NFL Championships: 1 win out of 3 appearances

All-time W-L: 355-336-1 (51%)

The Seattle Seahawks play at CenturyLink Field in Seattle,
Washington. The Seahawks once had a reputation as a losing team.
Expansion is tough, and while some Seattle teams in the 70s and
80s had limited success, the team struggled mightily during the
late 80s and the entire decade of the 1990s. Between 1988 and
2003, Seattle turned in just one winning record. Two distinct
Seahawks teams have worked to change the impression of Seattle
as a cupcake – the Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck-led 2005
squad, the first Seattle team to win a conference championship,
and the 2013 Super Bowl champions, led by Russel Wilson.

Famous NFL Coaches

The NFL is a league driven by strong personalities. At
different times in the league’s history, which now spans three
centuries, coaches have played larger and smaller public roles.
An argument could be made that the modern game is focused far
more on players than coaches, though we have our infamous coach
personalities of our own.

For this section, we wanted to pick five coaches that
represented a number of different NFL eras, but also coaches who
deserve mention. The coaches below knew how to win, and spent
time creating teams that won multiple championships, be they in
the NFL, the AFL, the NFC, or the AFC. These coaches had
longevity, a presence in the Hall of Fame, and are remembered as
much for their personality as for what they did for professional
football.

Tom Landry

Besides inventing two of the most popular forms of defense
used to this day, the Flex and the 4-3, Landry coached the
Dallas Cowboys to an astounding 20 straight winning seasons
between 1966 and 1985. Though Landry’s team won just two Super
Bowls, the Cowboys were a near-constant presence in the league’s
title game, earning 6 total conference championships under
Landry’s tutelage. Tom Landry is remembered for his hat, his
winning ways, and for creating the juggernaut that is now known
as “America’s Team.”

Bill Belichick

This is going to be a controversial pick. For starters,
Belichick seems to lack the one thing that all the other names
on this list have – a strong personality. Belichick is a
behind-the-scenes guy, a man willing to bend the rules in order
to win. How has it profited him? In just two decades, his
Patriots have won the Super Bowl three times and generally made
a fool of their opponents. The Patriots show no signs of slowing
down, having claimed seven of the last nine AFC East divisional
titles. Belichick’s trademark windbreaker and scowl are far more
memorable than anything he’s ever said in a press conference.

Paul Brown

Paul Brown earned his spot on this list in a little-known
period of NFL history. As a head coach between the years of 1946
and 1955, he led Cleveland to 10 straight championship games in
two different pro leagues, all while managing players who
constantly screamed for more money and threatened to vacate if
they didn’t get their wish. Paul Brown is the reason we have the
facemask, the concept of playbooks, the draw play, long-standing
coaching contracts, and the use of the 40-yard dash during
recruiting. Brown is also an outstanding coach because of the
coaching talent he produced – Don Shula, Lou Saban, Chuck Noll,
and Bill Walsh all studied under Brown.

Vince Lombardi

If you need any more evidence as to why Lombardi belongs on
this list than the fact that his name is on the Super Bowl
trophy, I don’t know what to tell you. Let’s start with his
coaching bona fides – Lombardi’s head coaching career with the
Green Bay Packers lasted just nine seasons, from 1959 – 1967.
But during those nine years, his team played in the NFL
Championship game six times, winning five championship titles
along the way. After Lombardi lost the league title in 1960, he
never lost another playoff game, finishing with a postseason
record of 9-1. Vince Lombardi was a beloved coach and leader,
and his name will forever be a part of NFL history.

Don Shula

Don Shula is the greatest pure coaching talent the league has
ever seen. He was a head coach for 32 years, recording just two
losing seasons during that time. No coach has won more games
than Shula, who recorded a 68% overall winning percentage during
the 30+ years he coached. He performed the head coach role in
the Super Bowl six times, a record only recently matched by Bill
Belichick. His Dolphins recorded the league’s only perfect
season. Don Shula’s influence is still being felt, by virtue of
the spread of coaches he taught and mentored around the league.
As the first modern defensive genius, the only man to hold an
opposing team to 3 points or less in a league championship,
Shula will be remembered as long as pro football is played in
America.

Classic NFL Games

We’ve selected four classic games for this section – not
because they’re our favorite games or because they’re
traditional selections, but because we think they represent the
best the NFL has to offer in terms of single-game entertainment.
Any one of these games would be instantly recognized as a
classic by any fan of the sport.

Super Bowl LI


Atlanta Falcons
28
VS

New England Patriots
31

February 5, 2017

It never feels fair to point to a game in recent memory as being one of the best ever, but few will deny that Super Bowl 51 between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons delivered on the hype. Tom Brady and co. were favored to win, but due to turnovers and a high-powered Atlanta offense, looked dead in the water after a horrifying start. That put the Patriots into a 28-3 hole that looked insurmountable considering no Super Bowl comeback over 10 points had ever been accomplished before. Brady had some magic left in the end, however, as the Patriots capitalized on poor game management and turnovers from Atlanta to crawl back into the game and force overtime. Once in the league’s first-ever Super Bowl OT, Brady marched the offense right down the field, with a short James White score capping the incredible comeback and handing New England their fifth world title.

Super Bowl XLIX


New England Patriots
28
VS

Seattle Seahawks
24

February 1, 2015

Don’t accuse me of recency bias for declaring Super Bowl 49 one of the greatest NFL games ever played. This truly was an epic contest. Consider the facts: these were by far the best two teams in the league. They had an identical (amazing) record. New England had the number-one scoring differential in the league, while Seattle had the second-best. Seattle was the defending champ, but New England was playing with a chip on its shoulder, trying to avoid the end of the Brady-Belichick era. It was an epic set-up for a football game, and the game itself was equally epic. The final two minutes of the first half produced three touchdowns. Then New England engineered a fourth quarter comeback against one of the league’s top defenses of all time. Controversy over Seattle’s decision to throw the ball at the goal-line – a decision that led directly to the Seahawks’ losing the game – has made this the greatest Super Bowl of all time, and one that fans will argue about for decades.

The Hail Mary Game


Dallas Cowboys
17
VS

Minnesota Vikings
14

December 28th, 1975

Have you ever thrown a “Hail Mary” pass? If so, then you should be familiar with this game. Trailing 14-10 with just under two minutes remaining, the Cowboys made an insane nine play drive up to midfield. With just 24 seconds left on the clock, QB Roger Staubach launched a ball to the end-zone. The receiver, Nate Pearson, pushed the Vikings’ cornerback Nate Wright to the ground and caught the pass. No flag was thrown on the play, no penalty was called, and the Vikings crowd went nuts. Even so, the Cowboys were declared winners. Afterwards, Roger Staubach said that he said a quick prayer after launching the pass, and the Hail Mary was born.

The Tuck Rule Game


New England Patriots
13
VS

Oakland Raiders
16

January 19, 2002

This game isn’t necessarily an example of an amazing NFL contest – rather an example of how one play can affect the rules for the entire league. Especially when that one play involves the NFL’s darling QB Tom Brady. This game took place in one of the worst snowstorms in recent memory, and the Raiders and Patriots duked it out for defensive dominance for four solid quarters, without either team able to take charge of the game. Late in the game, with Oakland up 13-10, Tom Brady dropped back to pass. What happened next changed the game forever. Brady says he saw the rush and attempted to tuck the ball and accept a sack. Instead, he dropped the ball, and it was ruled a fumble. Upon review, officials determined Brady’s arm was moving forward, declaring the play an incomplete pass. Possession didn’t change hands, and the Patriots prevailed. The rules have since been changed to allow QBs even greater freedom to tuck and move the ball in the pocket.

The Greatest Game Every Played


Baltimore Colts
23
VS

New York Giants
17

December 28, 1958

Not only was this roundly considered the greatest game ever played for thirty years, it was also the first nationally-televised football contest. This game represented the league championship of 1958. This was an epic battle between two powerhouses of the league, starring Johnny Unitas at QB for the Colts. At halftime, Baltimore was up 14-3, which at the time was considered a sizable lead. During the second half, the Giants rallied to a 17-14 lead, despite two costly fumbles that could have put the game out of reach for Baltimore. Then Johnny Unitas got his hands on the ball with two minutes left to play, and executed a perfect two-minute drill, tying the game at 17. The tired Giants offense quickly turned the ball over, giving Unitas the opportunity he needed to seal the deal with a 23-17 victory.

From the NFL Record Books

Here are some interesting records from the NFL record books.

  • George Blanda played in the NFL for 26 seasons between 1949
    and 1975. He retired at the age of 48, also holding the record
    for most points scored by a single player and most extra points
    kicked.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson holds the record for most points scored
    in a regular season – he was personally responsible for 186
    points for the Chargers in the year 2006. That same
    year, he set the record for most touchdowns in a single season,
    with 31. In 2011, kicker David Akers set the record for most
    points scored without a single touchdown, kicking for 166 total
    points for the 49ers.
  • Matt Prater holds the record for longest field goal. The
    64-yard bomb he kicked against Tennessee in December of 2013 was
    just one yard longer than the previous record-holder.
  • Aaron Rodgers currently holds the record for highest QB
    rating in a career, registering a 106.5 rating over the eleven
    years he’s been playing. He also holds the record for highest
    single-season QB rating, turning in a 122.5 for the 2011 season.
    Rodgers is also an efficient passer – he is the current
    record-holder for most consecutive pass attempts without an INT.
  • Brett Favre has the dubious honor of being the QB who was
    sacked the most times. During his career, from 1991-2010, Favre
    was put on his back 525 times. At the other end of the spectrum,
    Steve Walsh, who was sacked only three times in his entire
    ten-year career.
  • Antonio Cromartie holds the current record for longest single
    play for his 109-yard blocked field goal return in November,
    2007. This play bested the previous record by thirteen yards,
    and seems unlikely to ever be overturned.

Super Bowl Champions

The Super Bowl is the NFL championship game, played each year
between the two teams left standing after the league’s
postseason. The Super Bowl is the sports event of the year in
the United States – advertising is never more expensive than
during the TV broadcast of the Super Bowl.

To date, 54 Super Bowl games have been played, one per year
dating back to 1967. We’ve included a list of each Super Bowl
champion for easy reference.

I Green Bay Packers II Green Bay Packers
III New York Jets IV Kansas City Chiefs
V Baltimore Colts VI Dallas Cowboys
VII Miami Dolphins VIII Miami Dolphins
IX Pittsburgh Steelers X Pittsburgh Steelers
XI Oakland Raiders XII Dallas Cowboys
XIII Pittsburgh Steelers XIV Pittsburgh Steelers
XV Oakland Raiders XVI San Francisco 49ers
XVII Washington Redskins XVIII LA Raiders
XIX San Francisco 49ers XX Chicago Bears
XXI New York Giants XXII Washington Redskins
XXIII San Francisco 49ers XXIV San Francisco 49ers
XXV New York Giants XXVI Washington Redskins
XXVII Dallas Cowboys XXVIII Green Bay Packers
XXIX San Francisco 49ers XXX Dallas Cowboys
XXXI Green Bay Packers XXXII Denver Broncos
XXXIII Denver Broncos XXXIV St.Louis Rams
XXXV Baltimore Ravens XXXVI New England Patriots
XXXVII Tampa Bay Buccaneers XXXVIII New England Patriots
XXXIX New England Patriots XL Pittsburgh Steelers
XLI Indianapolis Colts XLII New York Giants
XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers XLIV New Orleans Saints
XLV Green Bay Packers XLVI New York Giants
XLVII Baltimore Ravens XLVIII Seattle Seahawks
XLIX New England Patriots 50 Denver Broncos
LI New England Patriots LII Philadelphia Eagles
LIII New England Patriots LIV Kansas City Chiefs

Interesting Facts About the NFL

  • The Green Bay Packers’ ticket waiting list is 1,000 years
    long. Every seat in the stadium is reserved for a season ticket
    holder, and only about 100 people per year give up their seats
    to a new owner.
  • A single cowhide makes ten professional footballs. The
    sixteen laces on the ball are laced with a single thread.
  • The 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens had a five-game
    stretch in which they didn’t score a touchdown and their only
    points were field goals by Matt Stover (14 in all).
  • The Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy costs the league just
    $25,000, or about one-fourth of one league minimum salary.
  • In 1988, no quarterbacks were taken in either the first or
    second round of the NFL draft, the only time in the history of
    the draft that a QB wasn’t taken at some point in the first
    round, much less the second.
  • The total audience for the first televised NFL game? 500
    people … a far cry from the half a billion people who watched
    the big game last year.
  • Joe Theismann changed the pronunciation of his name in
    college so it would rhyme with Heisman, hoping it would help him
    win the award. He didn’t, but he would go on to be the NFL’s
    MVP, twice.
  • Of the eleven games since 1987 that involve point spreads of
    20 or more, the favorite has only covered two times.
  • When no administrators or owners could agree on an alignment
    plan of the NFC after the AFL/NFL merger, Pete Rozelle’s
    secretary put the five plans in a vase and selected one at
    random. We still use this alignment to this day.
  • The NFL and the Chicago Bears were incorporated and named on
    the same day, June 24, 1922.
  • Sammy Baugh once led the NFL in punting, passing, and
    interceptions all in the same season.

Betting on The NFL

Betting on the NFL is big business. Millions of dollars are
wagered on games every weekend during the regular season, and
the Super Bowl is one of the single biggest betting events in
world sports. Many people who bet on the NFL do so purely
recreationally, because they enjoy backing their favorite teams
or just find that having money riding on games makes watching
them more exciting.

Others take their NFL betting much more seriously, closely
studying the form and delving into the stats to determine where
the best opportunities for profit lie. And there is merit to
this approach, as it’s possible to make very good money if you
know what you’re doing. If this sounds appealing to you, you
should take a look at our football betting guide.

Football Betting Guide

Our football betting guide is a useful resource for anyone
with an interest in betting on the NFL, or the NCAA for that
matter. It covers all the basics you need to know to get
started, and features a wealth of strategy advice that will help
you to find profitable betting opportunities.