American Football League (1968–1969)
National Football League (1970–present)
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.
All-America Football Conference (1946–49)
National Football League (1950–present)
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.
The American Football Conference North Division, or AFC North, is a division of the National Football League's American Football Conference. It was created prior to the 1967 season as the NFL Century Division]citation needed[when the NFL split into four divisions. It became the AFC Central in 1970 following the completion of the AFL-NFL merger when two of the NFL Century teams—the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers—moved from the "old" NFL to join the former American Football League teams in the AFC, in order to give the two conferences an equal number of teams. The division adopted its current name in 2002, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. It is the only AFC division to be the successor to a former NFL division from 1967.