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.
American football (known as football in the United States and gridiron ) 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.
Sidney Luckman, known as Sid Luckman, (November 21, 1916 – July 5, 1998) was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1939 to 1950. During his 12 seasons with the Bears he led them to four NFL championships.
Luckman was the first modern T-formation quarterback and is considered the greatest long range passer of his time. He was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1943, and Pulitzer prize winning sports writer Ira Berkow wrote that Luckman was "the first great T-formation quarterback". Following his retirement from playing, Luckman continued his association with football by tutoring college coaches, focusing on the passing aspect of the game.
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.
National Football League (1920–present)
Dark Navy, Orange, White
Throughout its history, the National Football League and other leagues have used several different formats to determine their league champion, including a period of interleague match-ups determining a true world champion.
The NFL first determined champions through end-of-season standings, but switched to a playoff system in 1933. The rival All-America Football Conference and American Football League have since merged with the NFL (some AAFC teams in 1950), but because of a problem with the NFL-AAFC merger, AAFC championships games and records do not count in NFL record books. The AFL began play in 1960 and, like its rival league, used a playoff system to determine its champion.