Gabe Anderson

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The NFL is a very popular sport in America. It is hard to believe how much the game of football has changed and how long it has been in existence. In the 1870's the popularity of rugby began to rise and in 1876 the first American Football rules were written by Walter Camp who is now known as the father of American Football (NFL). Over the next 50 years Footballs popularity slowly increased. Players began to get payed to play and people began to bet on the outcomes of games. The league was called the American Professional Football Association or APFA (NFL). The league was very unorganized and had many betting scandals and had many problems with college players also playing professionally at the same time. These problems led to the league being reformed as the National Football League in 1922. They formed many new rules to prevent these problems from occurring again. Despite their efforts college players were still playing professionally before graduating until 1935 when the draft was invented. The NFL's popularity remained fairly constant in the early 1900's until the first game was televised in 1939. The 1939 season had an attendance of over 1 million for the first time in the leagues history (NFL). The leagues popularity was on a quick rise but an unexpected obstacle came to the NFL in 1942. Players being sent to fight in the World War emptied teams rosters and made having a normal season extremely difficult. The league survived the lack of players though. In 1950 the league developed the American and National football conference that we have today (NFL). On September 7, 1963 the Pro Football Hall of Fame was opened in Canton, Ohio. In 1965, professional was named the most popular sport in America over baseball for the first time (NFL). The increasing popularity of the sport led to the invention of the most iconic event in sports, the Super Bowl. The first super bowl was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Although it is considered the first Super Bowl the iconic game didn't begin to be called "The Super Bowl" until 1969 (NFL). In 1972, in a postseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, one of the most controversial plays in American Football history occurred. A pass bounced off of a Steelers players hands and was caught by Steelers fullback Franco Harris who ran the ball for the game winning touchdown. The play was controversial because many people believe it was an illegal catch due to the double touch rule which is no longer in effect. Over the course of the next many years many things within the game of football remained the same besides the rules. The NFL is always changing rules and equipment to make the game as safe and enjoyable as possible.
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The National Football League (NFL) is an American sport rich in tradition. There are traditions carried out by the league, the teams, and the fans. In Denver, the Broncos fans will chant "IN-COMPLETE" after the opposing team has an incomplete pass (FOX Sports). This chant gets under the skin of the opposing teams quarterback. The New York Jets fans chant "J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!" (FOX Sports). This cheer is very simple but can be heard rocking the stadium when the Jets play in their home stadium. The Pittsburgh Steelers fans can be seen waving their iconic rally towel named the "Terrible Towel" (FOX Sports). This is an extra special tradition because as FOX Sports says, "Millions of dollars have been raised via the proceeds of The Terrible Towel to benefit Allegheny Valley School, which looks after people with mental and physical disabilities." Many professional sports teams do things like this to help their community. In Green Bay, a tradition was started in 1993 when Leroy Butler jumped into the crowd; this became known as the Lambeau Leap (Willner). The NFL has many rules about celebrations but the Lambeau Leap is still legal. According to FOX Sports says, "The NFL has banned dunking over the endzone and using props, but the Lambeau Leap has survived the competition committee's wrath because it has been grandfathered in." Lastly, the most infamous tradition in the NFL is the Gatorade bath. This is typically seen at the end of the Super Bowl. The players on the winning team soak their coach with a cooler full of Gatorade.
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The equipment has evolved a ton since football began to be played in America. In the original games of football players wore a leather helmet and had padding sewn into their leather pants otherwise the rest of their body was left unprotected. Helmets have probably evolved the most of any piece of football equipment. Between the years 1915 and 1917 the first full skull protection helmets were used in the NFL and the first plastic helmets weren't used until 1939 (Clark). Ever since then helmets have been made of plastic the NFL is always improving them to absorb more of the impact. When football was first played wearing padding for your shoulders only led to being mocked by other players. In the 1950's players began to wear leather shoulder pads and then in the 1960's plastic shoulder pads were used and were required. According to Mitchell Clark a writer for Live Strong, "The University of Florida created a Temperature Management System, allowing a player to be connected to an air pump on the sidelines. The pump blows cold, dry air into air channels in the pads, effectively creating an air conditioning system." They did this because they found that shoulder pads increase the speed of athletes bodies overheating. Lastly, the pants for football were originally leather pads with pads sewn in them but now they are nylon with hard plastic pads underneath the surface. Although the equipment for football has greatly improved the NFL is still always trying to make the game safer.
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The rules in the NFL have been changing to make the league safer and more enjoyable. In the original game of football a touchdown was worth 4 points and a field goal was worth 5 points. In 1912, a touchdown was finally changed to being worth its current worth of six points and in 1909 a field goal was changed to 3 points (NFL). Currently in the NFL, there are many rules protecting the passer but there weren't any rules protecting the passer until 1938. This made the passer slightly more protected but the rules were not enforced very strictly. In 1956 it was illegal to grasp the face mask of any opponent besides the ball carrier but in 1962 it was made illegal to grab any players helmet and the penalty yards rose from 5 to 15 yards (NFL). Most rules have remained nearly the same since then but the rules are always being adjusted to make players safer.

Famous players

In the NFL's many years of existence several players have made themselves household names. One of the most infamous players in NFL history is Jerry Rice. He was a receiver for the San Francisco 49ers. He had a record breaking career of 1,549 receptions, 22,895 receiving yards, and 208 total touchdowns (Bofoa). Another one of the league's most famous players also comes on the offensive side of the ball. His name is Walter Payton. He was a running back for the Chicago Bears. Walter Payton was smaller and not as strong as most players in the NFL but he simply outworked everyone to be one of the best running backs in NFL history (Bofoa). There are tons of NFL players that have left their legacy in the NFL and can be found in the NFL Hall of Fame.
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Works Cited

Bofoa, Kofi. "The NFL’s 10 Greatest Players of All ­Time." The Cheat Sheet. The Cheat Sheet, 09 Oct. 2015. Web. 08 Nov. 2015.

Clark, Mitchell. "The History of Football Equipment." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.

"Evolution of the Rules: From Hashmarks to Crackback Blocks." NFL Productions LLC, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2015.

Mihoces, Gary. "Forty Years Later, NFL Official Denies 'Immaculate Reception' Conspiracy." USA TODAY. USA TODAY Sports, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

"NFL History by Decade." NFL Productions LLC. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

"NFL & Pro Football League Encyclopedia." Sports Reference LLC. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Willner, Barry. The Best NFL Defensive Players of All Time. Minnesota: ABDO, 2014. Print. NFL's Best Ever.

Pictures Cited

Helmet Evolution. Digital image. Helmet Hut. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

NFL logo. Digital image. FOX 5 San DIego. FOX, 13 June 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

Pete Carroll Gets Gatorade Bath. Digital image. NFL Productions LLC. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

Walter Payton. Digital image. The Cheat Sheet. The Cheat Sheet. Web. 8 Nov. 2015.