Time to phone your friends and get the old pigskin out because November 5 is American Football Day. Sure, they could have called it Football Day, but if we want the rest of the world to join in on the festivities, we should be more specific. American Football Day celebrates the U.S.A’s most popular sport and reminds us that it’s mid-season and we should check on our fantasy teams.
History of American Football Day
Rugby and soccer paved the way for American football in the late 1800s. Yale grad Walter Camp gets the credit for pushing innovative rule changes, including the line of scrimmage, down-and-distance rules (i.e., “1st and 10”), and the legalization of blocking. Later, coaches like Knute Rockne and Amos Alonzo Stagg capitalized on the new “forward pass” play. College football took off well before the pro version in the early 1900s as Bowl games attracted a national audience for college teams. The NCAA version remains immensely popular today — with media coverage easily rivaling the NFL.
The pre-NFL American Professional Football Association began in 1920. Things grew quickly on the pro side. The NFL had grown to 25 teams by the mid-20s, and although the rival AFL folded after one season, it marked a growing interest in the game. Several college stars joined the NFL, most notably the University of Illinois’ Red Grange.
More teams entered the league during the 1950s, and the 1958 NFL Championship Game, known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” changed everything. The Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, meeting at Yankee Stadium, played the first “sudden death” overtime game in NFL history. Tied after 60 minutes of play, it became the first NFL game to go into sudden death over time. The final score was Colts 23, Giants 17. The game has since become known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” NBC broadcast the game live; many believe this set the stage for America’s current NFL frenzy.
Today there are 32 NFL teams split evenly between the NFC and the AFC. Conference winners meet to determine the league champion in the Super Bowl — generally held in early February. A postseason Bowl playoff system generates the collegiate “national champion” as well.
American Football Day Timeline
August 20, 1920
The American Professional Football League, eventually to be known as National Football League, was formed.
First Black Head Coach
Fritz Pollard – star of the Akron Pros, becomes the NFL’s first African American Head Coach.
June 24, 1922
The NFL Is Born
The APFL is officially renamed to NFL
January 15, 1967
Super Bowl I
Los Angeles hosts the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, now known as the Super Bowl.
The estimated worth of the Dallas Cowboys — football’s most valuable team.
American Football Day Faqs
Why is football important to American culture?
Football’s far from perfect — especially regarding players’ health and safety — but the sport remains extremely popular in the U.S. Football dominates sports media coverage from post-Labor Day September to February’s Super Bowl.
Is the NFL 100 years old?
Almost. “For nearly 100 years, the NFL has been part of the fabric of America, unifying communities and bringing fans together to support their favorite teams and players,” says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We have the greatest fans in the world.
Which current NFL teams have never played in a Super Bowl?
The Browns, Lions, Jaguars, and Texans have never appeared in a Super Bowl.
American Football Day Activities
- Join a league
- Just because high school is over doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sport anymore. Plenty of local leagues need good, strong-bodied players to join their ranks. There are a lot of leagues that need even mediocre, soft-bodied players to round out their teams. The whole reason is to have fun, so why not check out the local league and see if you cut?
- Start a football pool.
- Nothing brings the office together like a little friendly wager, and there’s no better way to get everyone involved than by centering it around America’s favorite sport. If there are three things, everyone thinks they’re an expert on music, movies, and football. Instead of having to put up listening to Justin in Customer Service talks about his playoff predictions, why not get him to put his money where his mouth is?
- Call over your friends on game nights
- What better way to celebrate than to experience two teams battling it on the turf? You know what to do. Get a few six-packs, fire up the crock pot, and turn on the flat screen because nothing brings friends together more than a good game, a hot bowl of chili, and countless hours of trash-talking.
Why We Love American Football Day
- It’s a game of strategy.
- People, not fans of the sport, like to paint the game as simple-minded and brutal, but they need to learn how much strategy is involved in making a winning team. You can have as many star players on your team as you can afford, but you’ll be eating dirt without the brains to back it up.
- It brings people together.
- The two biggest holidays that bring family and friends together in America are Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday. Even people who never watch a regular-season game will head over to a neighbor’s house to watch the Super Bowl and have a wing or two. Even Super Bowl commercials are now an event.
- It’s a true team sport.
- There are a few sports out there (we’re not naming names, but we’re looking at you, basketball) where the one-star player can define a whole team. Football is a sport that relies heavily on a team working together. Each play is designed with the desired outcome; if one player is sleeping at the wheel, the whole plan falls apart. This is one reason why football is such a popular sport. It requires unity to achieve the desired goal (or, in this case, a touchdown).