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.
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.
LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons. He played the majority of his 11-year career with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Tomlinson was selected to five Pro Bowls, was an All-Pro six times, and won two rushing titles (2006 and 2007). At the time of his retirement, he ranked fifth in career rushing yards (13,684), seventh in all-purpose yards (18,456), second in career rushing touchdowns (145), and third in total touchdowns (162). He currently serves as an analyst on NFL Network.
Philip Michael Rivers (born December 8, 1981) is an American football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). Rivers was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft with the fourth overall pick by the New York Giants, who traded him to the San Diego Chargers for their first overall pick, quarterback Eli Manning. Rivers played college football at North Carolina State University. Rivers' career passer rating of 95.4 is fifth-best all-time among NFL quarterbacks with at least 1,500 passing attempts. Known for his durability, he set a NCAA record with 51 consecutive starts, and is ranked 4th all-time in consecutive starts by a quarterback in NFL history.
After starting Chargers' quarterback Drew Brees went to the New Orleans Saints following the 2005 season, Rivers came off the bench to lead the Chargers to a 14-2 record in his first season as a starter. In 2007, he helped the Chargers win their first playoff game since 1994 after beating the Tennessee Titans in the wildcard round of the 2007 playoffs and eventually leading them to the AFC Championship game. He has a career total of 14 fourth quarter comebacks, his most recent being on September 15, 2013, when he led the Chargers to a 33-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.