The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league composed of 32 teams divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The highest level of professional football in the world, the NFL runs a 17-week regular season from the week after Labor Day to the week after Christmas, with each team playing sixteen games and having one bye week. Out of the league's 32 teams, six (four division winners and two wild-card teams) from each conference compete in the NFL playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, played between the champions of the NFC and AFC. The champions of the Super Bowl are awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy; various other awards exist to recognize individual players and coaches. Most games are played on Sunday afternoons; some games are also played on Mondays and Thursdays during the regular season. There are games on Saturdays during the last few weeks of the regular season and the first two playoff weekends.
The NFL was formed on August 20, 1920, as the American Professional Football Conference; the league changed its name to the American Professional Football Association (APFA) on September 17, 1920, and changed its name to the National Football League on June 24, 1922, after spending the 1920 and 1921 seasons as the APFA. In 1966, the NFL agreed to merge with the rival American Football League (AFL), effective 1970; the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that same season in January 1967. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States. The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most-watched programs in American history. At the corporate level, the NFL is an nonprofit 501(c)(6) association. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league.
The American Football League (AFL) was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when it merged with the National Football League (NFL). The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence.
The AFL was created by a number of owners who had been refused NFL expansion franchises or had minor shares of NFL franchises. The AFL's original lineup saw an Eastern division of the New York Titans, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers along with a Western division of the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Texans. The league first gained attention by signing 75% of the NFL's first-round draft choices in 1960, including Houston's successful signing of All-American Billy Cannon.
American Football League (1960–69)
National Football League (1970–present)
The AFL–NFL merger of 1970 was the merger of the two major professional American football leagues in the United States at the time: the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). The merger paved the way for the combined league, which retained the "National Football League" name and logo, to become one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States.
The AFC West is a division of the National Football League's American Football Conference, currently comprising the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders.
The division has sent teams to the Super Bowl fourteen times beginning with Super Bowl I vs. Green Bay. The Raiders entering 2012 lead in Super Bowl wins with a 3–2 record; the Broncos presently are 2–4 in Super Bowls; the Chiefs are 1–1 while the Chargers went winless in Super Bowl XXIX, their lone Super Bowl appearance.
Association football is the world's most popular sport; and it is played at a professional level by a professional footballer, worth US$600 billion worldwide. By the end of the 20th century it was played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries. Around the world, the sport is played at a professional level by a professional footballer; millions of people regularly go to football stadiums to follow their favourite football teams, while billions more watch the sport on television or on the internet. Football has the highest global television audience in sport. However, the sport began as wholly amateur; it has evolved over a number of years into the modern, professional sport.
Association football was first codified in 1863, with the formation of the Football Association (FA) in England. At this time the sport was played mainly by public schools, or teams with public school roots, and amateurism was the norm. This remained the case until the 1880s, when working class teams began to vie for supremacy. Blackburn Olympic, a team composed mainly of factory workers, won the 1883 FA Cup Final. They were the first working class team to win the competition since its inception in 1870. Though professionalism was not permitted, Olympic arranged jobs for their players, and supplemented their income with off-balance sheet payments, a common occurrence among Lancashire clubs.