Interesting Facts About Pro Football
by Brandon Cornett, August 2008
What is it about pro football that we love so much? Is it the incredible athleticism on the field? Is it the way football marks a changing of the seasons? Or maybe it's the cheerleaders? The answer, of course, is that it's all of these things and more.
If you love pro football as much as we do, you are sure to enjoy this collection of interesting football facts dating back to the birth of the sport. Enjoy!
21 Interesting Facts
- There is some argument over the exact date when pro football began. The first college game took place between Rutgers and Princeton in November of 1869. Years later, in November of 1892, the Allegheny Athletic Association football team beat the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. In this later game, at least one of the players was paid for their performance, making it the first "professional" game.
- The American Professional Football Conference (APFC) was created in 1920. About a month later, the organization's name was changed by replacing the word "Conference" with "Association."
- Original teams in the APFA included the Akron Pros, Dayton Triangles and the Canton Bulldogs. Later teams joining the league included the Chicago Tigers and the Buffalo All-Americans.
- The legendary Jim Thorpe played for the Canton Bulldogs, off an on, between 1915 and 1926.
- These early days of professional football were portrayed in the 2008 movie Leatherheads, starring George Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski.
- The "leatherheads" of the movie title was a reference to the early-model football helmets, which were made of thick leather.
- In June of 1922, the APFA changed its name to the National Football League (NFL).
- The two conferences we know today — the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) — were formed in 1970.
- The Chicago Bears are one of the oldest teams in professional football today. They adopted their current name back in 1922, when the Chicago Staleys changed their name to the "Bears."
- As of November 2009, the newest team in the NFL is the Houston, Texans. This team was started in 2002.
- As of the 2008 season, Chuck Noll (former coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers) had more Super Bowl wins than any other coach. He led the Steelers to victory in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII and XIV.
- As of the 2008 season, there is a three-way tie between football teams for the most Super Bowl wins. The Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers have each won five.
- Some kickoff and punt return facts at the time of this article: Antonio Cromartie (Chargers) had the longest return of a missed field goal at 109 yards. Ellis Hobbs (Patriots) had the longest kickoff return at 108 yards. Robert Bailey (Rams) had the longest punt return at 103 yards.
- As of 2008, Emmitt Smith is the NFL's leading rusher. He holds many football records, including the most career rushing yards (18,355). Emmitt also won the 2006 season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Running, dancing ... what can't he do?
- Interesting facts about pro football cheerleaders: In 1960, the Baltimore Colts were the first pro football team to have their own organized cheerleading squad. This ushered in the era of cheerleaders.
- Tex Schramm, general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, had initially tried to use models for his team's cheerleading squad. But the models could not tolerate the long hours in the hot sun. So Schramm made the decision to use professional dancers and choreography. Thus the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were born in 1972.
- Reliant Park in Houston was the first pro football stadium with a retractable roof. The stadium opened in 2002 and is home to the Houston Texans.
- Artificial turf (known as AstroTurf) was first used in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas in 1965. By the 1970s, the use of artificial turf was widespread in football, baseball and soccer venues.
- Many pro football players today claim that artificial turf leads to more knee and leg injuries because it does not give. Turf toe is a common term today that refers to an injury of the toes resulting from artificial turf.
- TV commercials aired during the Super Bowl are some of the most expensive ads on TV. During Super Bowl XLII in 2008, a 30-second commercial cost $2.7 million dollars.
- To date, the longest game in NFL history was the Christmas Day matc-hup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins. The divisional playoff went back and forth for more than 82 minutes and didn't end until halfway through the second overtime.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these interesting facts about football as much as I enjoyed gathering them.
References: Much of this fact sheet was compiled from widely available information. I also referred to the History section of the NFL.com website. I've also included some inline citations (hyperlinks) to various sources of background information.
About the Author
This fact sheet was provided by Brandon Cornett. Brandon is the creator of 21Facts.com. He is also a freelance writer and the author of many articles that can be found all over the Internet.
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