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.
There is no single national governing body for American football in the United States or a continental governing body for North America. There is an international governing body, the International Federation of American Football, or IFAF, but it does not have much influence in American football in the United States. American football is the most popular sport in the United States, but does not get as much recognition around the world.
Joseph Vincent "Joe" Flacco (born January 16, 1985) is an American football starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Delaware after transferring from the University of Pittsburgh. He was the 18th overall pick by the Ravens in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
In his rookie year, Flacco started all 16 regular season games, and by leading the Ravens to two road wins in the 2008–09 NFL Playoffs, he became both the eighth rookie quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game and the first rookie quarterback in league history to win two of them. In his second season, he improved his numbers, setting single season franchise records for completion percentage (63.1) and quarterback rating (88.9), and in his third season he became first all-time in Ravens history for passing yards (10,206) and passing touchdowns (60). Flacco has set consecutive NFL records for most starts by a quarterback in each of his five seasons, bringing his team to the playoffs and winning at least one postseason game in each of those years. With Flacco as Baltimore's starting quarterback, the Ravens have won the AFC North twice, appeared in three AFC Championship Games, and won Super Bowl XLVII. Flacco was named Super Bowl XLVII's MVP, concluding a postseason run in which he tied Joe Montana's single postseason record for touchdown passes (11) without an interception.
Byron Antron Leftwich (born January 14, 1980) is an American football quarterback who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars seventh overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. He played college football at Marshall University.
Leftwich has also played for the Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
JaMarcus Trenell Russell (born August 9, 1985) is an American football quarterback who is currently a free agent. Russell played college football for the LSU Tigers where he finished 21–4 as a starter and was named MVP of the 2007 Sugar Bowl. The Oakland Raiders selected Russell with the first overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Russell held out until the Raiders signed him to a contract worth $61 million with $32 million guaranteed. Russell played three seasons with the Raiders, compiling 7–18 record as a starter. Due to his inconsistent play the Raiders released on May 6, 2010. Russell was later arrested on drug charges. He is currently getting in shape in hopes of an NFL comeback.