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 professional level of the sport 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 a nonprofit 501(c)(6) association. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league.
American football (known as football in the United States and gridiron in some other countries) is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field 120 yards long by 53.33 yards wide with goalposts at each end. The offense attempts to advance an oval ball (the football) down the field by running with or passing it. They must advance it at least ten yards in four downs to receive a new set of four downs and continue the drive; if not, they turn over the football to the opposing team. Points are scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown, kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal or by the defense tackling the ball carrier in the offense's end zone for a safety. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sport of rugby football. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869 between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules resembling rugby and soccer. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, eleven-player teams and the concept of downs, and later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone and specified the size and shape of the football.
The Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, or Super Bowl MVP, is presented annually to the most valuable player of the Super Bowl, the National Football League's (NFL) championship game. The winner is chosen by a fan vote during the game and by a panel of 16 American football writers and broadcasters who vote after the game. The media panel's ballots count for 80 percent of the vote tally, while the viewers' ballots make up the other 20 percent. The game's viewing audience can vote on the Internet or by using cellular phones; Super Bowl XXXV, held in 2001, was the first Super Bowl where fan voting was allowed.
Since the first Super Bowl was held in 1967, the MVP award has been given to 42 players. From 1967 to 1989, the Super Bowl MVP was presented by SPORT magazine. Bart Starr was the MVP of the first two Super Bowls. Since 1990, the award has been presented by the NFL. At Super Bowl XXV, the league first awarded the Pete Rozelle Trophy, named after the former NFL commissioner, to the Super Bowl MVP. Ottis Anderson was the first to win the trophy. The most recent Super Bowl MVP was Joe Flacco, the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, who was named the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLVII, held on February 3, 2013.
Aaron Charles Rodgers (born December 2, 1983) is an American football quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Rodgers played college football at the University of California, Berkeley, where he set several career passing records, including lowest single-season and career interception rates.
The National Football League (NFL) playoffs are a single-elimination tournament held after the end of the regular season to determine the NFL champion. Six teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs based on regular season records, and a tie-breaking procedure exists in the case of equal records. The tournament ends with the Super Bowl, the league's championship game, which matches the two conference champions.
NFL post-season history can be traced to the first NFL Championship Game in 1933, though in the early years, qualification for the game was based solely on regular season records. The first true NFL playoff began in 1967, when four teams qualified for the tournament. When the league merged with the American Football League in 1970, the playoffs expanded to eight teams. The playoffs were expanded to ten teams in 1978 and twelve teams in 1990.
"The Greatest Show on Turf" was the nickname for the St. Louis Rams' record-breaking offense during the 1999, 2000, and 2001 National Football League seasons. The offense was designed by attack oriented offensive coordinator Mike Martz who advocated mixing both an aerial attack and run offense. The Rams' offense during these three seasons produced a largess of scoring, accrued yardage, three NFL MVP honors, and one Super Bowl title for the 1999 season.
The offense was attuned to getting all five receivers out into patterns that stretched the field, setting up defensive backs with route technique, and the quarterback delivering to a spot on time where the receiver could make the catch and turn upfield. Frequent pre-snap motion and shifting were staples of the system, often including shifts to or from empty backfield formations or bunch formations. Pass protection was critical to its success. At least two of the five receivers would run a deep in, skinny post, comeback, speed out, or shallow cross pattern, and running backs would often run quick rail routes out of the backfield. Screens, draws, and play action passes were often used to slow the opponent's pass rush. Mike Martz credits the offensive system as being originally catalyzed by Sid Gillman and then refined at San Diego State by Don Coryell, who later transmitted his system to the NFL. Martz learned the Coryell 3-digit system from offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese when both coached for the Rams under Chuck Knox from 1994-96. Using this offense, the Rams set a new NFL record for total offensive yards in 2000, with an astonishing 7,335 yards (since broken by the New Orleans Saints with 7,474). Of those, 5,492 were passing yards, also a new NFL team record.