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.
National Football League (1933–present)
Black, Gold, White
As with all sports leagues, there are a number of significant rivalries in the National Football League. Rivalries are occasionally created due to a particular event that causes bad blood between teams, players, coaches, or owners, but for the most part, they arise simply due to the frequency with which some teams play each other, and sometimes exist for geographic reasons.
Super Bowl Championships (8)
Conference Championships (10)
Gillette Stadium is a stadium located in Foxborough, Massachusetts, 21 miles (34 kilometers) southwest of downtown Boston and 20 miles (32 km) from downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It serves as the home stadium and administrative offices for both the NFL's New England Patriots football franchise and the MLS' New England Revolution soccer team. In 2012, it also became the home stadium for the football program of the University of Massachusetts (UMass), making it the largest football stadium in the Mid-American Conference. The facility opened in 2002, replacing the old Foxboro Stadium. The seating capacity is 68,756, including 6,000 club seats and 87 luxury suites. The stadium is owned and operated by Kraft Sports Group, a subsidiary of The Kraft Group, the company through which businessman Robert Kraft owns the Patriots and Revolution. The stadium was originally known as CMGI Field before the naming rights were bought by Gillette after the "dot-com" bust. Although Gillette has since been acquired by Procter & Gamble, the stadium retains the Gillette name because P&G has continued to use the Gillette brand name and because the Gillette company was founded in the Boston area. Gillette and the Patriots jointly announced in September 2010 that their partnership, which includes naming rights to the stadium, will extend through the 2031 season. Additionally, uBid (until April 2003 a wholly owned subsidiary of CMGI) as of 2009 continues to sponsor one of the main entrance gates to the stadium.
The Town of Foxborough approved plans for the stadium's construction on December 6, 1999, and work on the stadium began on March 24, 2000. The first official event was a New England Revolution soccer game on May 11, 2002. The Rolling Stones played at Gillette Stadium on September 5, 2002 on the band's Licks Tour. Grand opening ceremonies were held four days later on September 9 when the Patriots unveiled their Super Bowl XXXVI championship banner before a Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.