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 Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League (NFL). The hall opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter enshrinees. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is unique among North American major league sports halls of fame in that officials are not inducted. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Hockey Hall of Fame have each inducted game officials as members.
Kenneth Michael "Ken" Stabler (born December 25, 1945) Nicknamed "The Snake" is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League for the Oakland Raiders (1970–79), Houston Oilers (1980–81), and New Orleans Saints (1982–84). He played college football for the University of Alabama.
Stabler became a highly touted football player at Foley High School. He led Foley to a win-loss record of 29–1 over his high school career—the only loss coming against rival Fairhope High School. He was an all-around athlete in high school, averaging 29 points a game in basketball and excelling enough as a left-handed pitcher in baseball to receive minor-league contract offers from the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. During his high school career, he earned his nickname "the Snake" from his coach following a long, winding touchdown run.
Joseph William "Joe" Namath (//; born May 31, 1943), nicknamed "Broadway Joe" or "Joe Willie", is a former American football quarterback. He played college football for the University of Alabama under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and his assistant, Howard Schnellenberger, from 1962–1964, and professional football in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) during the 1960s and 1970s. Namath was an American Football League icon. He played for that league's New York Jets for most of his professional football career, and finished his career with the NFL's Los Angeles Rams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Namath retired after playing in 143 career games (including playoff games) with 68 wins, 71 losses and 4 ties, in his 132 career starts he was 64–64–4, and he was 4–7 coming off the bench in relief. In his career he threw 173 touchdowns, 220 interceptions, and completed 1,886 passes for 27,663 yards. During his thirteen years in the AFL and NFL he played for three division champions (the 1968 and 1969 AFL East Champion Jets and the 1977 NFC West Champion Rams), earned one league championship (1968 AFL Championship), and one Super Bowl victory (Super Bowl III).
Joseph Kwahu Duah Addai Jr. (// a-DY) (born May 3, 1983) is an American football running back who is currently a free agent. He was selected in the first round (30th overall pick) of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Louisiana State University by the Indianapolis Colts and played for the team for six seasons.
The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 15, 1967, following the 1966 regular season, while Super Bowl XLVII was played on February 3, 2013, following the 2012 season.
The game was created as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival league, the American Football League (AFL). It was agreed that the two leagues' champion teams would play in the AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the merger was to officially begin in 1970. After the merger, each league was redesignated as a "conference", and the game was then played between the conference champions. Currently, the National Football Conference (NFC) leads the league with 25 wins to 22 wins for the American Football Conference (AFC). The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the record for Super Bowl victories with six.
Joseph Clifford "Joe" Montana, Jr. (born June 11, 1956), nicknamed Joe Cool and The Comeback Kid, is a retired professional American football player, a hall of fame quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. After winning a college national championship at Notre Dame, Montana started his NFL career in 1979 with San Francisco, where he played for the next 14 seasons. Traded before the 1993 season, he spent his final two years in the league with Kansas City. While a member of the 49ers, Montana started in four Super Bowl games and won all of them. Montana was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, his first year of eligibility. Montana is the only player to have been named Super Bowl MVP three times.
In 1989, and again in 1990, the Associated Press named Montana the NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP), and Sports Illustrated magazine named Montana the 1990 "Sportsman of the Year". Four years earlier, in 1986, Montana won the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Montana was elected to eight Pro Bowls, as well as being voted 1st team All-Pro by the AP in 1987, 1989, and 1990. Montana had the highest passer rating in the National Football Conference (NFC) five times (1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1989); and, in both 1987 and 1989, Montana had the highest passer rating in the entire NFL.