National Football League

National Football League

Overview
The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of professional American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing its name to the National Football League in 1922. The league currently consists of thirty-two teams from the United States.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'National Football League'
Start a new discussion about 'National Football League'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of professional American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing its name to the National Football League in 1922. The league currently consists of thirty-two teams from the United States. The league is divided evenly into two conferences – the American Football Conference
American Football Conference
The American Football Conference is one of the two conferences of the National Football League . This conference and its counterpart, the National Football Conference , currently contain 16 teams each, making up the 32 teams of the NFL....

 (AFC) and National Football Conference
National Football Conference
The National Football Conference is one of the two conferences of the National Football League . This conference and its counterpart, the American Football Conference , currently contain 16 teams each, making up the 32 teams of the NFL.-Current teams:Since 2002, the NFC has comprised 16 teams,...

 (NFC), and each conference has four divisions that have four teams each, for a total of 16 teams in each conference. The NFL is an unincorporated 501(c)(6) association, a federal nonprofit designation, comprising its 32 teams.

The regular season
Regular season (NFL)
The National Football League regular season begins the weekend after Labor Day. Each team plays 16 games during a 17-week period. Traditionally, the majority of each week's games are played on Sunday afternoon, with weekly games on Sunday night and Monday night, and occasional games on Thursday...

 is a seventeen-week schedule during which each team plays sixteen games and has one bye week. The season currently starts on the Thursday night in the first full week of September (the Thursday after Labor Day) and runs weekly to late December or early January. At the end of each regular season, six teams from each conference (at least one from each division) play in the NFL playoffs, a twelve-team single-elimination tournament
Single-elimination tournament
A single-elimination tournament, also called a knockout, cup or sudden death tournament, is a type of elimination tournament where the loser of each match or bracket is immediately eliminated from winning the championship or first prize in the event...

 that culminates with the championship game, known as the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

. This game is held at a pre-selected site which is usually a city that hosts an NFL team.

The NFL is the most attended domestic sports league in the world by average attendance per game, with 66,960 fans per game in 2010–11. Although not as frequently as the other major professional sports leagues in the United States, the NFL still is not immune to labor disputes, such as the player's strikes of 1982 and 1987, and more recently a lockout in 2011
2011 NFL season
The 2011 NFL season, the 92nd regular season of the National Football League, began on Thursday, September 8, 2011 with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers defeating the New Orleans Saints 42–34 at Lambeau Field and will end with Super Bowl XLVI, the league's championship game, on...

, though the latest did not result in the cancellation of any regular-season games.

Official rules and notable rule distinctions



Although rules for NFL, college, and high school American football games are generally consistent, there are several differences. In addition, the NFL frequently makes rule changes because of exploits on the field by a single coach, owner, player, or referee.

Some of the major rules differences include:
  • A pass is ruled complete if both of the receiver's feet is inbounds at the time of the catch. In the college and high school football, only one foot is required to be inbounds.
  • In the NFL, a player is considered down he is tackled or forced down by a member of the opposing team (also known as "down by contact"). In college football, a player is automatically ruled down when any part of his body other than the feet or hands touches the ground or when the ball carrier is tackled or otherwise falls and loses possession of the ball as he contacts the ground with any part of his body.
  • Unlike college and high school, the NFL has a two-minute warning
    Two-minute warning
    In the National Football League, the two-minute warning is given when two minutes of game time remain on the game clock in each half of a game, i.e. near the end of the second and fourth quarters. There is an additional two-minute warning in the rare event only two minutes remain in an overtime...

    , an automatic time-out that occurs when two minutes of game time remain on the game clock in each half of a game.
  • Also unique to the NFL, the game clock never stops after the offense completes a first down in order to reset the first down chains
    Chain crew
    In American football, the chain crew are assistants to the referee who handle the first down measuring chain and the down indicator box...

    .
  • Two-point conversion
    Two-point conversion
    In American and Canadian football, a two-point conversion is a play a team attempts instead of kicking a one-point convert immediately after it scores a touchdown...

     tries are attempted from the two-yard line, whereas in college football they are attempted from the three-yard line.
  • In college football, the defensive team may score two points on a point-after touchdown attempt by returning a blocked kick, fumble, or interception into the opposition's end zone. The NFL does not allow this, and instead a conversion attempt is automatically ruled as "no good" when the defending team gains possession of the football.
  • There are several differences in enforcing penalties. For example, defensive pass interference results in the ball being placed at the spot of the foul. In college football, the same penalty is capped at maximum of 15 yards.
  • In the NFL, overtime is decided by a 15-minute sudden-death quarter during regular season games and can still end in a tie if neither team scores. During college football's overtime, each team is given one possession from its opponent's twenty-five yard line with no game clock. the team leading after both possessions is declared the winner. If the two college teams remain tied, additional overtime periods are played.
  • For instant replay, NFL teams are given two replay challenges per game, and can be awarded a third one if the other two are successful. Replays of scoring plays, the final 2:00 of each half and all overtime periods are instead initiated by the official in the replay booth. In college football, teams are only originally allocated one replay challenge (and can get a second one if successful), and the replay official can initiate reviews of all plays.

History


In 1920 representatives of several professional American football leagues and independent teams founded the American Professional Football Conference, soon renamed the National Football League. The first official championship game was held in 1933; prior to, there was no playoff system and instead the team that finished with the best regular season record was awarded the league title. By 1958, when that season's NFL championship game became known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played", the NFL was on its way to becoming one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. In 1965, football supplanted baseball as the most popular televised sport in America. The merger with the American Football League
American Football League
The American Football League was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when the established National Football League merged with it. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence...

, agreed to in 1966 and completed in 1970, greatly expanded the league and created the Super Bowl, which has become the most-watched annual sporting event in the United States.

Season structure


Since 2002, the NFL season features the following schedule:
  • a 4-game exhibition season
    National Football League exhibition season
    The National Football League preseason refers to the period each year during which NFL teams play several not-for-the-record exhibition games before the actual "championship" or "regular" season starts. Beginning with the featured Pro Football Hall of Fame game in early August, five weekends of...

     (or preseason) running from early August to early September;
  • a 16-game, 17-week regular season
    Regular season (NFL)
    The National Football League regular season begins the weekend after Labor Day. Each team plays 16 games during a 17-week period. Traditionally, the majority of each week's games are played on Sunday afternoon, with weekly games on Sunday night and Monday night, and occasional games on Thursday...

     running from September to December or early January; and
  • a 12-team single-elimination playoff
    NFL playoffs
    The National Football League playoffs are a single-elimination tournament held at the end of the regular season to determine the NFL champion. Six teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs based on regular season records, and a tie-breaking procedure exists in the...

     beginning in January, culminating in the Super Bowl in early February.


Traditionally, American high school football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 games are played on Friday nights, American college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 games are played on Thursday nights and Saturdays, and most NFL games are played on Sunday. Because the NFL season is longer than the college football season, the NFL schedules Saturday games and Saturday playoff games outside the college football season. The ABC Television network added Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football is a live broadcast of the National Football League on ESPN. From to it aired on ABC. Monday Night Football was, along with Hallmark Hall of Fame, and the Walt Disney anthology television series, one of the longest running prime time commercial network television series...

 in 1970, and Thursday night NFL games were added in the 1980s.

Exhibition season



Following mini-camps in the spring and officially recognized training camp in July–August, NFL teams typically play four exhibition games from early August through early September. Each team hosts two games of the four. The exhibition season begins with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
The Pro Football Hall of Game is an annual National Football League exhibition game that is held the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. The game is played at Fawcett Stadium, which is located next door to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio...

, so those two teams play five exhibition games each. Historically, the American Bowl
American Bowl
The American Bowl was a series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States between 1986 and 2005.- Overview :...

(s) were played prior to the NFL scheduling regular season games abroad and those teams faced this similar predicament.

The games are useful for new players who are not used to playing in front of very large crowds. Management often uses the games to evaluate newly signed players. Veteran starters will generally play only for about a quarter of each game to minimize the risk of injury. Several lawsuits have been brought by fans, against the policy of including exhibition games in season-ticket packages
Season ticket
A season ticket is a ticket that grants privileges over a defined period of time.-Sport:In sport, a season ticket grants the holder access to all regular-season home games for one season without additional charges. The ticket usually offers a discounted price over purchasing a ticket for each of...

 at regular season prices, but none have so far been very successful.

Regular season




Following the preseason, each of the thirty-two teams embark on a seventeen-week, sixteen-game schedule, with the extra week consisting of a bye to allow teams a rest sometime in the middle of the season (and also to increase television coverage). The regular season currently begins the Thursday evening after Labor Day with a primetime "Kickoff Game" (NBC currently holds broadcast rights for that game). According to the current scheduling structure, the earliest the season could begin is September 4 (as it was in the 2008 season
2008 NFL season
The 2008 NFL season was the 89th regular season of the National Football League, themed with the slogan "Believe in Now."Super Bowl XLIII, the league's championship game, was at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on February 1, 2009, with the Pittsburgh Steelers coming out victorious over the...

), while the latest would be September 10 (as it was in the 2009 season
2009 NFL season
The 2009 NFL season was the 90th regular season of the National Football League.The preseason started with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 9, 2009, and the regular season began September 10. The season ended with Super Bowl XLIV, the league's championship game, on February 7, 2010 at...

, due to September 1 falling on a Tuesday). The regular season ends no later than January 3, in any given year.

The league uses a scheduling formula to pre-determine which teams plays whom during a given season. Under the current formula since 2002, each of the thirty-two teams' respective 16-game schedule consists for the following:
  • Each team plays the other three teams in their division twice: once at home, and once on the road (six games).
  • Each team plays the four teams from another division within its own conference once on a rotating three-year cycle: two at home, and two on the road (four games).
  • Each team plays the four teams from a division in the other conference once on a rotating four-year cycle: two at home, and two on the road (four games).
  • Each team plays once against the other teams in its conference that finished in the same place in their own divisions as themselves the previous season, not counting the division they were already scheduled to play: one at home, one on the road (two games).


Although this scheduling formula determines each of the thirty-two teams' respective opponents, the league usually does not release the final regular schedule with specific dates and times until the spring; the NFL needs several months to coordinate the entire season schedule so that, among other reasons, games are worked around various scheduling conflicts, and that it helps maximize TV ratings.

Playoffs




The season concludes with a twelve-team tournament used to determine the teams to play in the Super Bowl. The tournament brackets
Bracket (tournament)
A bracket is a tree diagram that represents the series of games played during a tournament, named as such because it appears to be a large number of interconnected brackets....

 are made up of six teams from each of the league's two conferences, the American Football Conference
American Football Conference
The American Football Conference is one of the two conferences of the National Football League . This conference and its counterpart, the National Football Conference , currently contain 16 teams each, making up the 32 teams of the NFL....

 (AFC) and the National Football Conference
National Football Conference
The National Football Conference is one of the two conferences of the National Football League . This conference and its counterpart, the American Football Conference , currently contain 16 teams each, making up the 32 teams of the NFL.-Current teams:Since 2002, the NFC has comprised 16 teams,...

 (NFC), following the end of the 16-game regular season:
  • The four division champions from each conference (the team in each division with the best regular season won-lost-tied record), which are seeded one through four based on their regular season won-lost-tied record (tie-breaker rules may apply).
  • Two wild card qualifiers from each conference (those non-division champions with the conference's best record, i.e. the best won-lost-tied percentages, with a series of tie-breaking rules in place in the event that there are teams with the same number of wins and losses), which are seeded five and six.


In each conference, the No. 3 and No. 6 seeded teams, and the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, face each other during the first round of the playoffs, dubbed the Wild Card Playoffs (the league in recent years has also used the term Wild Card Weekend). The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from each conference receive a bye
Bye (sports)
A bye, in sports and other competitive activities, most commonly refers to the practice of allowing a player or team to advance to the next round of a playoff tournament without playing...

 in the first round, which entitles these teams to automatically advance to the second round, the Divisional Playoff games, to face the winning teams from the first round. In round two, the No. 1 seeded team always plays the lowest surviving seed in their conference. And in any given playoff game, whoever has the higher seed gets the home field advantage (i.e. the game is held at the higher seed's home field).

The two surviving teams from the Divisional Playoff games meet in Conference Championship games, with the winners of those contests going on to face one another in the Super Bowl in a game located at a neutral venue that is usually either indoors or in a warm-weather locale. The designated "home team" alternates year to year between the conferences. In odd-numbered Super Bowls, the NFC team is the designated "home team", with the AFC team serving as the home team for even-numbered games.

The NFL is the only one out of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States to use a single-elimination tournament
Single-elimination tournament
A single-elimination tournament, also called a knockout, cup or sudden death tournament, is a type of elimination tournament where the loser of each match or bracket is immediately eliminated from winning the championship or first prize in the event...

 in its playoffs; Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 and the National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

 all use a "best-of" format instead.

Pro Bowl


The Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
In professional American football, the Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League . Since the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970, it has been officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those...

, the league's all-star game
All-star game
An all-star game is an exhibition game played by the best players in their sports league, except in the circumstances of professional sports systems in which a democratic voting system is used...

, has been traditionally held on the weekend after the Super Bowl. The game was played at various venues before being held at Aloha Stadium
Aloha Stadium
Aloha Stadium is a stadium located in the Halawa CDP, City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. Currently Aloha Stadium is home to the University of Hawaii Warriors football team...

 in Honolulu, Hawaii for 30 consecutive seasons from 1980 to 2009.

However, the 2010 Pro Bowl
2010 Pro Bowl
The 2010 AFC–NFC Pro Bowl was the NFL's all-star game for the 2009 season. It took place at 8:00 PM EST on Sunday, January 31, 2010, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins and host site of Super Bowl XLIV...

 was played at Sun Life Stadium, the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are a Professional football team based in the Miami metropolitan area in Florida. The team is part of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 and host site of Super Bowl XLIV
Super Bowl XLIV
Super Bowl XLIV was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference champion New Orleans Saints to decide the National Football League champion for the 2009 season. The Saints defeated the Colts by a score of...

, on January 31, the first time ever that the Pro Bowl was played before the championship game. The game returned to Honolulu in 2011 and will again be played there in 2012, though the 2011 game was still played before the Super Bowl.

Calendar


Though the NFL only plays in the late summer, fall, and early winter, the extended offseason often is an event in itself, with the draft, free agency signings, and the announcement of schedules keeping the NFL in the spotlight even during the spring, when virtually no on-field activity is taking place. A typical calendar of league events is as follows, with the dates listed being those for the 2010 NFL season
2010 NFL season
The 2010 NFL season was the 91st regular season of the National Football League.The regular season began with the NFL Kickoff game on NBC on Thursday, September 9, at the Louisiana Superdome as the New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV champions, defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14–9.Tom Brady,...

:
  • February 22 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
    Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
    The Pro Football Hall of Game is an annual National Football League exhibition game that is held the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. The game is played at Fawcett Stadium, which is located next door to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio...

     opponents announced.
  • February 24 – March 2—NFL Scouting Combine: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • February 25—Deadline for Clubs to designate Franchise and Transition players.
  • March 5—Veteran Free Agency signing period begins. Trading period begins.
  • March 21–24—NFL Annual Meeting: Dana Point, Calif. Usually accompanied by announcement of scheduling and opponents for first game and opening-weekend night games.
  • Early April: Teams begin voluntary workouts.
  • April 20: 2010 schedule announced.
  • April 22–24 – NFL Draft
    NFL Draft
    The National Football League Draft is an annual event in which the National Football League teams select eligible college football players and it is their most common source of player recruitment. The basic design of the draft is each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order...

    : New York City.
  • May 24–26—NFL Spring Meeting: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • June 27 – June 30—NFL Rookie Symposium, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
  • Mid-July (varies by team, fifteen days before first preseason game)-- Training camps open.
  • August 7 – Pro Football Hall of Fame
    Pro Football Hall of Fame
    The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

     Induction Ceremony, Canton, Ohio, including Hall of Fame Game.
  • August 12–16—First full Preseason
    National Football League exhibition season
    The National Football League preseason refers to the period each year during which NFL teams play several not-for-the-record exhibition games before the actual "championship" or "regular" season starts. Beginning with the featured Pro Football Hall of Fame game in early August, five weekends of...

     weekend.
  • August 31—Roster cutdown from 80 to maximum of 75 players.
  • September 4—Roster cutdown from 75 to maximum of 53 players.
  • September 9–13 – Kickoff 2010 Weekend
    National Football League Kickoff game
    The NFL Kickoff game, and related festivities, mark the start of the National Football League season. The first game of the season is currently scheduled for the Thursday following Labor Day. A single game is held, preceded by a concert and other ceremonies. Since the 2004 season, the defending...

     (Week 1 of regular season)
  • October 31 – International Series
    NFL International Series
    Beginning with the 2005 season, the National Football League has hosted regular season American football games held outside the United States in a series known as the International Series.-Background:...

     game (Wembley Stadium
    Wembley Stadium
    The original Wembley Stadium, officially known as the Empire Stadium, was a football stadium in Wembley, a suburb of north-west London, standing on the site now occupied by the new Wembley Stadium that opened in 2007...

    , London).
  • November – Pro Bowl
    Pro Bowl
    In professional American football, the Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League . Since the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970, it has been officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those...

     balloting and flexible scheduling for NBC Sunday Night Football
    NBC Sunday Night Football
    NBC Sunday Night Football is a weekly television broadcast of Sunday evening National Football League games on NBC that began airing on Sunday, August 6, 2006 with the pre-season opening Hall of Fame Game. Al Michaels serves as the play-by-play announcer, with Cris Collinsworth as the color...

     begin.
  • November 25 – Thanksgiving games
    Thanksgiving Classic
    The National Football League's Thanksgiving Classic is a series of games played during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It has been a regular occurrence since the league's inception in 1920. Since 2006, three games are played every Thanksgiving...

    .
  • January 2, 2011—End of regular season.
  • January 8, 2011 – Playoffs begin.
  • January 23 – AFC Championship Game
    AFC Championship Game
    The American Football Conference Championship Game is one of the two final playoff matches of the National Football League, the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the American...

     and NFC Championship Game
    NFC Championship Game
    The National Football Conference Championship Game is one of the two semi-final playoff matches of the National Football League, the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the...

    .
  • January 30 – Pro Bowl
    Pro Bowl
    In professional American football, the Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League . Since the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970, it has been officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those...

    .
  • February 6 – Super Bowl
    Super Bowl
    The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

    .

Current NFL teams



The NFL consists of thirty-two clubs. Each club is allowed a maximum of fifty-three players on their roster, but may only dress forty-five to play each week during the regular season. Reflecting the population distribution of the United States as a whole, most teams are in the eastern half of the country; seventeen teams are in the Eastern Time Zone
Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

 and nine others in the Central Time Zone.

Most major metropolitan areas in the United States have an NFL franchise
Professional sports league organization
Professional sports leagues are organized in numerous ways. The two most significant types are a European model, characterised by a tiered structure using promotion and relegation to determine participation in a hierarchy of leagues or divisions and a North American model characterized by its use...

, although Los Angeles, the second-largest metropolitan area in the country, has not hosted an NFL team since 1994. The Rams
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are a professional American football team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are currently members of the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Rams have won three NFL Championships .The Rams began playing in 1936 in Cleveland,...

 and the Raiders
Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in Oakland, California. They currently play in the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 called the Los Angeles area home from 1946–1994 and 1982–1994 respectively. On August 9, 2011, the LA City Council approved plans to build Farmers Field
Farmers Field
Farmers Field is a baseball stadium on the campus of Lewisville High School, in Lewisville, Texas. Named after the schools mascot the "Fighting Farmers." It is located adjacent to the Lewisville High School football field and softball field. It is the home of the Lewisville Fighting Farmers...

 which will be home to an NFL team. It is unknown which team will move to the venue.

Unlike Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer is a professional soccer league based in the United States and sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation . The league is composed of 19 teams — 16 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada...

, the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 and the National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

, the league has no full-time teams in Canada, although the Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are a professional football team based in Buffalo, New York. They are currently members of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 play one game per year
Bills Toronto Series
The Bills Toronto Series is a five-year deal consisting of a series of National Football League games featuring the Buffalo Bills played at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The series began in the 2008 NFL season and will end during the 2012 NFL season...

 in Toronto. Also, there is talk of possibly bringing the NFL to Toronto
National Football League in Toronto
The National Football League has long been rumoured to be considering placing one of its franchises in Canada's largest city, Toronto, Ontario....

, the largest city in Canada.

The Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

 are the highest valued American football franchise, valued at approximately $1.6 billion and one of the most valuable franchises in all of professional sports worldwide, currently second behind English soccer club Manchester United
Manchester United F.C.
Manchester United Football Club is an English professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League. Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910.The 1958...

, which has an approximate value of $1.8 billion at current exchange rates.
Since the 2002 season, the teams have been aligned as follows:
Chart notes

Former NFL teams


In its earliest years, the NFL was a very unstable and somewhat informal organization. Many teams entered and left the league annually. However, since the acquisition of the All-America Football Conference
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

 in 1950, the NFL has shown remarkable stability. The last NFL team to fold was the Dallas Texans
Dallas Texans (NFL)
The Dallas Texans played in the National Football League for one season, 1952, with a record of 1–11.-History:After the 1951 NFL season, the financially troubled New York Yanks franchise were put on the market. Ted Collins had founded that franchise in 1944 as the Boston Yanks, moved it to New...

 in 1952; its remnants were salvaged to form the expansion Baltimore Colts
Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League ....

.

Television



Annually, the Super Bowl often ranks as the most watched show of the year in the United States and second most watched sporting event worldwide behind the UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League, known simply the Champions League and originally known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or European Cup, is an annual international club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe. It...

 final. Four of Nielsen Media Research
Nielsen Media Research
Nielsen Media Research is an American firm that measures media audiences, including television, radio, theatre films and newspapers...

's top ten programs are Super Bowls. Networks have purchased a share of the broadcasting rights to the NFL as a means of raising the entire network's profile. The Super Bowl is so popular annually that many companies debut elaborate commercials during the game.

The television rights to the NFL are the most lucrative and expensive sports broadcasting commodity in the United States. Under the current television contracts, which began during the 2006 season, regular season games are broadcast on five networks: CBS
NFL on CBS
The NFL on CBS is the brand name of the CBS television network's coverage of the National Football League's American Football Conference games, produced by CBS Sports.-Market coverage and television policies:...

, Fox
NFL on FOX
NFL on Fox is the brand name of the Fox Broadcasting Company's coverage of the National Football League's National Football Conference games, produced by Fox Sports...

, NBC
NFL on NBC
NFL on NBC is the brand given to NBC Sports coverage of National Football League games until 1998, when NBC lost the NFL American Football Conference rights to CBS...

, ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

, and the NFL Network
NFL Network
NFL Network is an American television specialty channel owned and operated by the National Football League . It was launched November 4, 2003, only eight months after the league's 32 team owners voted unanimously to approve its formation...

. Regionally shown games are broadcast on Sundays on CBS and Fox, carrying the AFC and NFC teams respectively (the traveling team deciding the broadcast station in the event of inter-Conference games, presumably so that each network can show games from all the stadiums). These games generally air at 1:00 pm ET and 4:05 pm or 4:15 pm ET. (Due to differences between Eastern and local time, games played in the Pacific and Mountain time zones are never played in the 1:00 pm ET time slot.) Nationally televised games include Sunday night games
NBC Sunday Night Football
NBC Sunday Night Football is a weekly television broadcast of Sunday evening National Football League games on NBC that began airing on Sunday, August 6, 2006 with the pre-season opening Hall of Fame Game. Al Michaels serves as the play-by-play announcer, with Cris Collinsworth as the color...

 (shown on NBC), Monday night games (shown on ESPN), the Thursday night NFL Kickoff Game
National Football League Kickoff game
The NFL Kickoff game, and related festivities, mark the start of the National Football League season. The first game of the season is currently scheduled for the Thursday following Labor Day. A single game is held, preceded by a concert and other ceremonies. Since the 2004 season, the defending...

 (shown on NBC), the annual Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

 and Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 Thanksgiving Day games
Thanksgiving Classic
The National Football League's Thanksgiving Classic is a series of games played during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It has been a regular occurrence since the league's inception in 1920. Since 2006, three games are played every Thanksgiving...

 (CBS and Fox), and beginning in 2006, all Thursday and Saturday games on the NFL Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Football League.

Additionally, satellite broadcast company DirecTV
DirecTV
DirecTV is an American direct broadcast satellite service provider and broadcaster based in El Segundo, California. Its satellite service, launched on June 17, 1994, transmits digital satellite television and audio to households in the United States, Latin America, and the Anglophone Caribbean. ...

 offers NFL Sunday Ticket
NFL Sunday Ticket
NFL Sunday Ticket is an Out-of-Market Sports Package that broadcasts National Football League regular season games unavailable on local affiliates. It carries all regional Sunday afternoon games produced by Fox and CBS...

, a subscription based package, that allows most Sunday daytime regional games to be watched. This package is exclusive to DirecTV in the USA; for subscribers to Dish Network
Dish Network
Dish Network Corporation is the second largest pay TV provider in the United States, providing direct broadcast satellite service—including satellite television, audio programming, and interactive television services—to 14.337 million commercial and residential customers in the United States. Dish...

 Verizon FiOS
Verizon FiOS
Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service which operates over a fiber-optic communications network. It is offered in some areas of the United States by Verizon Communications. Verizon was one of the first major U.S...

 and Comcast
Comcast
Comcast Corporation is the largest cable operator, home Internet service provider, and fourth largest home telephone service provider in the United States, providing cable television, broadband Internet, and telephone service to both residential and commercial customers in 39 states and the...

, the NFL instead offers "RedZone," a less expensive single channel that launched in 2009 and airs "the touchdowns and most important moments during all the Sunday afternoon games." In Canada, NFL Sunday Ticket is available on a per-provider distribution deal on both cable and satellite.

The NFL also produces programming for various networks, mainly highlight shows like Inside the NFL
Inside the NFL
Inside the NFL is a weekly cable television sports show that focuses on the National Football League. It originally aired on HBO from 1977 through 2008...

 for Showtime and other historical games through its renowned NFL Films
NFL Films
NFL Films is a Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based company devoted to producing commercials, television programs, feature films, and documentaries on the National Football League, as well as other unrelated major events and awards shows...

 division that generally air on ESPN and NFL Network. Other NFL-produced programs include Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks (TV series)
Hard Knocks is a reality sports documentary television series produced by NFL Films and HBO. The series follows a select National Football League team through its training camp and provides an in-depth perspective of the team's preparation for the upcoming season. The series is described as one of...

, an HBO series detailing training camp for certain teams; plus the animated children's show RushZone: Guardians of the Core airing on Viacom
Viacom
Viacom Inc. , short for "Video & Audio Communications", is an American media conglomerate with interests primarily in, but not limited to, cinema and cable television...

's Nicktoons channel.

Radio


Each NFL team has its own radio network and employs its announcers. Nationally, the NFL is heard on the Westwood One
Westwood One
Westwood One was an American radio network and was based in New York City. At one time, it was managed by CBS Radio, the radio arm of CBS Corporation, and Viacom and was later purchased by the private equity firm The Gores Group...

 Radio Network, Sports USA Radio Network
Sports USA Radio Network
The Sports USA Radio Network is the largest independent nationwide sports broadcasting radio network, specializing in live broadcasts of American football, specifically of the NCAA football Division I-A and National Football League...

, the Dial Global
Dial Global
Dial Global is a radio syndication company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triton Media Group and is a sister company to Townsquare Media, both of which are owned by Oaktree Capital Management....

-Compass Media
Compass Media Networks
Compass Media Networks is an American radio network.The company launched in January 2009. It is owned by former Westwood One CEO and former COO of Connoisseur Media, Peter Kosann...

 Sports Network and in Spanish on Univision Radio
Univision Radio
Univision Radio is the radio division of media giant Univision Communications, Inc., which also ownsthe Univision television network. The company was formerly known as Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation. It is the eighth largest radio company in the United States, and the largest Hispanic radio...

. Westwood One carries Sunday and Monday Night Football, all Thursday games, two Sunday afternoon contests each week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
The Pro Football Hall of Game is an annual National Football League exhibition game that is held the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. The game is played at Fawcett Stadium, which is located next door to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio...

, and all post-season games, including the Pro Bowl. Sports USA Radio and Dial Global-Compass each broadcast two Sunday afternoon games every Sunday during the regular season, by agreement with individual teams. Univision carries Monday Night games, select games from the New York metro area, and all playoff games.

The NFL also has a contract with Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio is a satellite radio service operating in North America, owned by Sirius XM Radio.Headquartered in New York City, with smaller studios in Los Angeles and Memphis, Sirius was officially launched on July 1, 2002 and currently provides 69 streams of music and 65 streams of...

, which provides news, analysis, commentary and game coverage for all games, as well as comprehensive coverage of the draft and off-season on its own channel, Sirius NFL Radio
Sirius NFL Radio
Sirius XM NFL Radio is a Sirius XM Radio channel on 88 completely dedicated to the National Football League. Its personalities include Marty Schottenheimer, Shannon Sharpe, Pat Kirwan, Adam Schein, Peter King, Randy Cross and Bob Papa....

.

Internet radio broadcasts of all NFL games are managed through FieldPass, a subscription service. Radio stations are, by rule, prohibited from streaming the games for free from their Web sites; however, there are numerous stations that break this rule. All 32 teams, plus Westwood One and Univision, currently broadcast through FieldPass as of 2009; Dial Global-Compass and Sports USA do not.

Internet/new media


In October 2006 the NFL announced the league would fully operate NFL.com, including the development of the technology, infrastructure and editorial content. Launching its first major redesign since 1999 in August 2007, the site had been previously produced and hosted since 2001 by CBS SportsLine. It is estimated that the contract cost CBS $120 million over a five year period. Prior to CBS, ESPN.com produced and hosted the NFL site.

Brian Rolapp, senior vice president of NFL digital media and media strategy: “In a rapidly changing digital landscape, bringing NFL.com in-house provides us greater control of our valuable content and enables us to strategically build the site as a media asset. Fans can look forward to an even more entertaining, interactive and informative site built upon the expertise of the NFL and its other in-house media outlets such as NFL Network and NFL Films.”

Univision Online, Inc., the interactive subsidiary of Univision
Univision
Univision is a Spanish-language television network in the United States. It has the largest audience of Spanish language television viewers according to Nielsen ratings. Randy Falco, COO, has been in charge of the company since the departure of Univision Communications president and CEO Joe Uva...

 Communications Inc., and the NFL announced in January 2008 that they will jointly manage and operate NFLatino.com powered by Univision.com, the official U.S. Spanish-language website of the NFL. NFLatino.com is the only Spanish-language website in the United States to feature NFL video game highlights. In addition, the website includes live radio broadcasts, up-to-date stats, Hispanic player diaries, Fantasy Football and an insider’s view of all 32 teams.

Announced in March 2009, NFL.com received its first-ever Sports Emmy nominations, which earned recognition for its NFL.com LIVE coverage of NFL Network’s Thursday and Saturday Night Football (Outstanding new approaches, coverage) and its Anatomy of a Play, a short-form 360-degree analysis of key plays of the week (Outstanding new approaches, general interest).

Beginning September 2008, the NFL announced that it would simulcast all NBC Sunday Night Football
NBC Sunday Night Football
NBC Sunday Night Football is a weekly television broadcast of Sunday evening National Football League games on NBC that began airing on Sunday, August 6, 2006 with the pre-season opening Hall of Fame Game. Al Michaels serves as the play-by-play announcer, with Cris Collinsworth as the color...

 games on NFL.com, located at nfl.com/snf. In 2007, they had provided an Emmy-nominated "complementary live broadcast" which included a partial simulcast of the NFL Network's Run to the Playoffs eight game package along with expanded NFL Network
NFL Network
NFL Network is an American television specialty channel owned and operated by the National Football League . It was launched November 4, 2003, only eight months after the league's 32 team owners voted unanimously to approve its formation...

 analysis.

The NFL offers a pay service for people outside the United States to watch all regular season and playoff games, except for the Super Bowl, live online. This service is not available for fans within the United States or Mexico. Instead, the service is available after games are played and offers full DVR functionality with the ability to watch up to four previously recorded games at once.

Player contracts and compensation


The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has historically served as the labor union for NFL players. Among its duties is negotiating collective bargaining agreements (CBA) with league owners, which governs the negotiation of individual player contracts for all of the league's players. The NFLPA was established in 1956, and has decertified at least twice in its history during labor disputes: the 1987 strike and the 2011 lockout
2011 NFL lockout
The 2011 National Football League lockout was a lockout that lasted from March 11 to July 25. It occurred primarily during the offseason for 18 weeks and 4 days...

.

The most recent CBA was in place since 1993, and was amended in 1998 and again in 2006. But in 2008, the owners exercised their right to opt out of the agreement two years early. This has eventually led to a lockout in 2011, the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987, which is longer than Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 (1994 and beginning of 1995 seasons), the NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 (1998–99 season) or the NHL
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

 (2004–05 season canceled).

Under that recently expired CBA, players were tiered into three different levels with regards to their rights to negotiate for contracts:
  • Players who have been drafted (see below), and have not yet played in their first year, may only negotiate with the team that drafted them. If terms cannot be agreed upon, the players' only recourse is to refuse to play ("hold out") until terms can be reached. Players often use the threat of holding out as a means to force the hands of the teams that drafted them. For example, John Elway
    John Elway
    John Albert Elway, Jr. is a former American football quarterback and currently is the executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League . He played college football at Stanford and his entire professional career with the Denver Broncos...

     was drafted by the Baltimore Colts
    History of the Indianapolis Colts
    The Indianapolis Colts are a professional football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They play in the AFC South division of the National Football League. They have won 3 NFL championships and 2 Super Bowls....

     in 1983
    1983 NFL Draft
    The 1983 NFL Draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 26–27, 1983...

     but refused to play for them. He had a fallback option of baseball, as he had played in the New York Yankees
    New York Yankees
    The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

     organization for two summers while at Stanford
    Stanford University
    The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

    . The Colts traded his rights to the Denver Broncos
    Denver Broncos
    The Denver Broncos are a professional American football team based in Denver, Colorado. They are currently members of the West Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

     and Elway agreed to play. Bo Jackson
    Bo Jackson
    Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson is a former American baseball and football player. He was the first athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports, and also won the Heisman Trophy in 1985....

     sat out an entire year in 1986, choosing to play baseball in the Kansas City Royals
    Kansas City Royals
    The Kansas City Royals are a Major League Baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals are a member of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From 1973 to the present, the Royals have played in Kauffman Stadium...

     organization rather than play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a professional American football franchise based in Tampa, Florida, U.S. They are currently members of the Southern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League – they are the only team in the division not to come from the old NFC West...

    , the team that had drafted him. He reentered the draft the following year, and was drafted and subsequently signed with the Los Angeles Raiders
    Oakland Raiders
    The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in Oakland, California. They currently play in the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

    .
  • Players that have played three full seasons in the league, and whose contract has expired are considered "Restricted Free Agents" (see below). They have limited rights to negotiate with any club.
  • Players that have played four or more full seasons in the league, and whose contract has expired, are considered "Unrestricted Free Agents"(see below) and have unlimited rights to negotiate with any club. Teams may name a single player in any given year as a "Franchise Player" (see below), which eliminates much of that player's negotiation rights. This is a limited right of the team, however, and affects only a small handful of players each year.

In the 2010 season
2010 NFL season
The 2010 NFL season was the 91st regular season of the National Football League.The regular season began with the NFL Kickoff game on NBC on Thursday, September 9, at the Louisiana Superdome as the New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV champions, defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14–9.Tom Brady,...

, the CBA was not extended, thus changing the rules so that players don't become "Unrestricted Free Agents" until they have played at least six full seasons in the league. They will be "Restricted Free Agents" if they have three–five full seasons in the league.

Among the items covered in the CBA are:
  • The league minimum salary
  • The salary cap
  • The annual collegiate draft
  • Rules regarding "free agency"
  • Waiver rules

Salaries


A player's salary, as defined by the CBA, includes any "compensation in money, property, investments, loans or anything else of value to which an NFL player may be awarded" excluding such benefits as insurance and pension. A salary can include an annual pay and a one-time "signing bonus" which is paid in full when the player signs his contract. For the purposes of the salary cap (see below), the signing bonus is prorated over the life of the contract rather than to the year in which the signing bonus is paid.

Player contracts are not guaranteed; teams are only required to pay on the contract as long as the player remains a member of the team. If the player is cut, or quits, for any reason, the balance of the contract is voided and the player receives no further compensation.

Among other things, the CBA establishes a minimum salary for its players, which is stepped-up as a player's years of experience increase. Players and their agents may negotiate with clubs for higher salaries, and frequently do.

Salary cap


The salary cap is defined as the maximum amount that a team may spend on player compensation (see above) in a given season, for all of its players combined. Unlike other leagues, for example the NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 (which permits certain exemptions) or Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 (which has a "soft cap" enforced by "luxury taxes"), the NFL has a "hard cap": an amount no team under any circumstances may exceed. The NFL also has a so-called "hard floor", a minimum payroll that each team is required to pay regardless of the circumstances.

The NFL salary cap is calculated by the current CBA to be 59.5% of the total projected league revenue for the upcoming year. This number, divided by the number of teams, determines an individual team's maximum salary cap. For 2008, this was approximately $116 million per team. For 2009, it increased to $127 million. As a result of the NFL owners opting out of the CBA two years early, the 2010 season had no salary cap or floor.

Teams and players often find creative ways to fit salaries under the salary cap. Early in the salary cap era, "signing bonuses" were used to give players a large chunk of money up front, and thus not count in the salary for the bulk of the contract. This led to a rule whereby all signing bonus are pro-rated equally for each year of the contract. Thus if a player receives a $10 million signing bonus for a five-year contract, $2 million per year would count against the salary cap for the life of the contract, even though the full $10 million was paid up front during the first year of the contract.

Player contracts tend to be "back-loaded". This means that the contract is not divided equally among the time period it covers. Instead, the player earns progressively more and more each year. For instance, a player signing a four-year deal worth $10 million may get paid $1 million the first year, $2 million the second year, $3 million the third year, and $4 million the fourth year. If a team cuts this player after the first year, the final three years do not count against the cap. Any signing bonus, however, ceases to be pro-rated, and the entire balance of the bonus counts against the cap in the upcoming season.

NFL Draft


Each April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft
Draft (sports)
A draft is a process used in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia and the Philippines to allocate certain players to sports teams. In a draft, teams take turns selecting from a pool of eligible players...

 known as "the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting", which is more commonly known as the NFL Draft.

Teams are ranked in inverse order based on the previous season's record, with the team having the worst record picking first, and the second-worst picking second, and so on. Regardless of regular season records, the last two picks of each round go to the two teams in the Super Bowl immediately preceding the draft, with the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 champion picking last.

The draft proceeds for seven rounds. In the past, Rounds 1–2 were run on Saturday of draft weekend, rounds 3–7 were run on Sunday.

During 2010 the league experimented with a new system. Round 1 was run on Thursday night of the draft weekend. Rounds 2 and 3 were run on the Friday night of the draft weekend. Rounds 4 through 7 were run on Saturday. The impact of this change—according to commentators at ESPN and Sports Illustrated—was that teams gained more time to make trades for draft picks in the early rounds and that process enhanced the value of the first picks in Rounds 2 and 4. http://www.nfl.com/draft/2010 and www.si.com

Teams are given 10 minutes in the first round of the draft, 7 in the second round and 5 in all other rounds. If the pick is not made in the allotted time, subsequent teams in the draft may draft before them. This happened in 2003 to the Minnesota Vikings.

Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. While player-for-player trades are rare during the rest of the year (especially in comparison to the other major league sports), trades are far more common on draft day. In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

 traded running back Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker
Herschel Junior Walker is an American mixed martial artist and a former American football player. He played college football for the University of Georgia Bulldogs and earned the 1982 Heisman Trophy. He began his professional career with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League...

 to the Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are a professional American football team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings joined the National Football League as an expansion team in 1960...

 for five veteran players and six draft picks over 3 years. The Cowboys would use these picks to leverage trades for additional draft picks and veteran players. As a direct result of this trade, they would draft many of the stars who would help them win three Super Bowls in the 1990s, including Emmitt Smith
Emmitt Smith
Emmitt James Smith, III is a retired American football player who was a running back in the National Football League for fifteen seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. Smith played college football for the University of Florida, where he was an All-American; thereafter, he played professionally for...

, Russell Maryland
Russell Maryland
Russell James Maryland is a former professional American football player. He played defensive tackle for ten seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers of the National Football League . He was drafted by the Cowboys first overall in the 1991 NFL Draft...

, and Darren Woodson
Darren Woodson
Darren Ray Woodson is a former American football safety in the National Football League. He played his entire career for the Dallas Cowboys from 1992 to 2004...

.

The first pick in the draft is often taken to be the best overall player in the rookie class. This may or may not be true, since teams often select players based more on the teams' needs than on the players' overall skills. Plus, comparing players at different positions is difficult to do. Still, it is considered a great honor to be a first-round pick, and a greater honor to be the first overall pick. The last pick in the draft is known as Mr. Irrelevant
Mr. Irrelevant
"Mr. Irrelevant" is the title bestowed each year upon the last pick of the annual National Football League draft.- Irrelevant Week :The name arose in 1976, when former Southern California and NFL receiver Paul Salata founded "Irrelevant Week" in Newport Beach, California. He announced the final...

, and is the subject of a dinner in his (dubious) honor in Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach, incorporated in 1906, is a city in Orange County, California, south of downtown Santa Ana. The population was 85,186 at the 2010 census.The city's median family income and property values consistently place high in national rankings...

.

Drafted players may only negotiate with the team that drafted them (or to another team if their rights were traded away). The drafting team has one year to sign the player. If they do not do so, the player may reenter the draft and can be drafted by another team. Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson
Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson is a former American baseball and football player. He was the first athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports, and also won the Heisman Trophy in 1985....

 famously sat out a season in this way.

General


As defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), a free agent is any player who is not under contract to any team and thus has fully free rights to negotiate with any other team for new contract terms. Free agents are classified into two categories: restricted and unrestricted. Furthermore, a team may "tag" a player as a franchise or transition, which places additional restrictions on that player's ability to negotiate. However, the ability to "tag" is quite limited, and only affects a handful of players each year.

Free agency in the NFL began with a limited free agency system known as "Plan B Free Agency
Plan B free agency
The Plan B free agency was a type of free agency that became active in the National Football League in February 1989. Plan B free agency permitted all teams in the NFL to preserve limited rights of no more than 37 total players a season...

", which was in effect between the 1989 and 1992 seasons. Beginning with the 1993 season, "Plan A Free Agency" went into effect.

Restricted free agent



A player who has 3 years of experience is eligible for restricted free agency, whereby his current team has the chance to retain rights to this player by matching the highest offer any other NFL franchise might make to that player. The club can either block a signing or, in essence, force a trade by offering a salary over a certain threshold. In 2006, these thresholds were as follows:
  • If a club tenders an offer of $685,000 per year for a three year veteran, and $725,000 for a four year veteran, the player's current team has "right of first refusal" over the contract at those terms, and may sign the player at those terms.
  • If a club tenders an offer of $712,000 or 110% (whichever is greater) of the previous year's salary, then the current club has both "right of first refusal" and rights to a draft pick from the same round (or better) from the signing club. Essentially, this means that the new club must forfeit the draft pick to the old club if they wish to sign the player under these terms.
  • If a club tenders an offer of $1.552 million or 110% (whichever is greater) of the previous year's salary, then the current club has both "right of first refusal"; and rights to the first round draft pick from the signing club.

Unrestricted free agent


A player who has four or more years of experience is eligible for unrestricted free agency, whereby his current team has no guaranteed right to match outside offers to that player. This means that players in this category have unlimited rights to negotiate any terms with any team.

Free agency changes in 2010


In 2010, the CBA was not extended, thus the rules changed so that players don't become "Unrestricted Free Agents" until they have at least six years of experience. They will be "Restricted Free Agents" if they have three–five years of experience. There will also be limitations imposed on which clubs are allowed to sign free agents. This is part of a set of rule changes written into the CBA designed to encourage the owners and the NFLPA to negotiate a new CBA: the players lose some free agency rights, and the owners lose the salary cap.

Franchise tag



The franchise tag is a designation given to a player by a franchise that guarantees that player a contract the average of the five highest-paid players of that same position in the entire league, or 120% of the player's previous year's salary (whichever is greater) in return for retaining rights to that player for one year. An NFL franchise may only designate one player a year as having the franchise tag, and may designate the same player for consecutive years. This has caused some tension between some NFL franchise designees and their respective teams due to the fact that a player designated as a franchise player precludes that player from pursuing large signing bonuses that are common in unrestricted free agency, and also prevents a player from leaving the team, especially when the reasons for leaving are not necessarily financial. A team may, at their discretion, allow the franchise player to negotiate with other clubs, but if he signs with another club, the first club is entitled to two first round draft picks in compensation.

Banned substances policy


The NFL banned substances policy has been acclaimed by some and criticized by others, but the policy is the longest running in American professional sports, beginning in 1987. The current policy of the NFL suspends players without pay who test positive for banned substances as it has since 1989: four games for the first offense (a quarter of the regular season), eight games for a second offense (half of the regular season), and 12 months for a third offense. The suspended games may be either regular season games or playoff games.

While recently MLB and the NHL decided to permanently ban athletes for a third offense, they have long been resistant to such measures, and random testing is in its infancy.

Since the NFL started random, year-round tests and suspending players for banned substances, many more players have been found to be in violation of the policy. By April 2005, 111 NFL players had tested positive for banned substances, and of those 111, the NFL suspended 54.

A new rule is in the works due to Shawne Merriman
Shawne Merriman
Shawne DeAndre Merriman is an American football linebacker for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. He was drafted 12th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2005 NFL Draft. On November 2, 2010, the Chargers waived Merriman...

. Starting the 2007 season
2007 NFL season
The 2007 NFL season was the 88th regular season of the National Football League.Regular-season play was held from September 6 to December 30....

, the new rule would prohibit any player testing positive for banned substances from being able to play in the Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
In professional American football, the Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League . Since the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970, it has been officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those...

 that year.

Video games


There have been several American football video games based on NFL teams created for various consoles over the years, from 10-Yard Fight
10-Yard Fight
is a American football arcade game that was developed and published in Japan by Irem and published in the United States by Taito and in Europe by Electrocoin. It is the first slightly realistic American football video game ever developed and released.-Gameplay:...

 and the Tecmo Bowl
Tecmo Bowl
is an arcade game developed and released in 1987 by Tecmo. While moderately successful in the arcades, the game became and remained widely popular and remembered when it was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. The NES version was considered by many to be the first NES American...

 series for the NES
Nintendo Entertainment System
The Nintendo Entertainment System is an 8-bit video game console that was released by Nintendo in North America during 1985, in Europe during 1986 and Australia in 1987...

 to the more well known Madden series that have been released annually since 1988. The Madden series is named after former coach and American football commentator John Madden. Prior to the 2005–2006 football season, other NFL games were produced by competing video game publisher
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

s, such as 2K Games
2K Games
2K is a global developer, marketer, distributor and publisher of interactive entertainment software games. 2K Games is a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, which also owns Rockstar Games notable for the Grand Theft Auto series...

 and Midway Games
Midway Games
Midway Games, Inc. is an American company that was formerly a major video game publisher. Following a bankruptcy filing in 2009, it is no longer active and is in the process of liquidating all of its assets. Midway's titles included Mortal Kombat, Ms.Pac-Man, Spy Hunter, Tron, Rampage, the...

. However, in December 2004, Electronic Arts signed a five-year exclusive agreement with the NFL, meaning only Electronic Arts will be permitted to publish games featuring NFL team and player names. This prompted video game developer Midway Games
Midway Games
Midway Games, Inc. is an American company that was formerly a major video game publisher. Following a bankruptcy filing in 2009, it is no longer active and is in the process of liquidating all of its assets. Midway's titles included Mortal Kombat, Ms.Pac-Man, Spy Hunter, Tron, Rampage, the...

 to release a game in 2005 called Blitz: The League
Blitz: The League
Blitz: The League is an American football game by Midway as an unlicensed extension of their NFL Blitz series. Released after the NFL signed an exclusive licensing deal with Electronic Arts, it was released in October 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Lawrence Taylor, who provides voice acting...

, with fictitious teams and players. In February 2008, EA Sports
EA Sports
EA Sports is a brand of Electronic Arts that creates and develops sports video games. Formerly a marketing gimmick of Electronic Arts, in which they tried to mimic real-life sports networks by calling themselves "EA Sports Network" with pictures or endorsements of real commentators such as John...

 renewed their exclusivity agreement with the league through Super Bowl XLVII
Super Bowl XLVII
Super Bowl XLVII, the 47th edition of the Super Bowl and the 43rd modern era National Football League championship game, is scheduled to be played in 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana...

 in 2013. A free flash based online game called Quick Hit Football
Quick Hit Football
Quick Hit Football is a free online American football game. The Quick Hit company was started in 2008 by Jeffrey Anderson, and went public in September 2009. Quick Hit Football offers single player against CPU opponents and multi-player against human opponents. Quick Hit Football is based on user...

 was released in 2009 and was granted an official NFL license in 2010.

Management


Commissioners and presidents
  1. Temporary Secretary Ralph Hay
    Ralph Hay
    Ralph E. Hay was the owner of the Canton Bulldogs from 1918 until 1923. However he is mostly recognized for organizing the first meeting of teams that would later former the American Professional Football Association, later called the National Football League....

     (1920)
  2. President Jim Thorpe
    Jim Thorpe
    Jacobus Franciscus "Jim" Thorpe * Gerasimo and Whiteley. pg. 28 * americaslibrary.gov, accessed April 23, 2007. was an American athlete of mixed ancestry...

     (September 17, 1920 – April 30, 1921)
  3. President Joseph Carr
    Joseph Carr
    Joseph "Joe" F. Carr was the president of the National Football League from 1921 until his death in 1939. Carr was born in Columbus, Ohio. As a mechanic for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Columbus, he directed the Columbus Panhandles football team in 1907 until 1922...

     (April 30, 1921 – May 20, 1939)
  4. President Carl Storck
    Carl Storck
    Carl Storck was a co-founder of the National Football League, as well as the founding owner of the Dayton Triangles. He was also the Triangles coach from 1922 until 1926. Storck served as the secretary-treasurer of the NFL from 1921 to 1939. Upon the death of Joe Carr, he served as president of...

     (May 25, 1939 – April 5, 1941)
  5. Commissioner Elmer Layden
    Elmer Layden
    Elmer Francis Layden was an American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and professional sports executive. He played college football at the University of Notre Dame where he starred at fullback as a member of the legendary "Four Horsemen" backfield...

     (March 1, 1941 – January 11, 1946)
  6. Commissioner Bert Bell
    Bert Bell
    De Benneville "Bert" Bell was the National Football League commissioner from 1946 until his death in 1959. As commissioner, he helped chart a path for the NFL to facilitate its rise in becoming the most popular sports attraction in the United States...

     (January 11, 1946 – October 11, 1959)
  7. Interim President Austin Gunsel
    Austin Gunsel
    Austin H. Gunsel is best remembered for serving as the National Football League's interim commissioner following the death of Bert Bell on October 11, 1959....

     (October 14, 1959 – January 26, 1960, following death of Bell)
  8. Commissioner Alvin "Pete" Rozelle
    Pete Rozelle
    Alvin Ray "Pete" Rozelle was the commissioner of the National Football League from January 1960 to November 1989, when he retired from office. Rozelle is credited with making the NFL into one of the most successful sports leagues in the world....

     (January 26, 1960 – November 5, 1989)
  9. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
    Paul Tagliabue
    Paul John Tagliabue is a former Commissioner of the National Football League. He took the position in 1989 and was succeeded by Roger Goodell, who was elected to the position on August 8, 2006. Tagliabue's retirement took effect on September 1, 2006. He had previously served as a lawyer for the NFL...

     (November 5, 1989 – September 1, 2006)
  10. Commissioner Roger Goodell
    Roger Goodell
    Roger S. Goodell is the Commissioner of the National Football League , having been chosen to succeed the retiring Paul Tagliabue on August 8, 2006. He was chosen over four finalists for the position, winning a close vote on the fifth ballot before being unanimously approved by acclamation of the...

     (September 1, 2006–present)


Main league offices
  • Canton
    Canton, Ohio
    Canton is the county seat of Stark County in northeastern Ohio, approximately south of Akron and south of Cleveland.The City of Caton is the largest incorporated area within the Canton-Massillon Metropolitan Statistical Area...

     (1920–1921)
  • Columbus
    Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

     (1921–1941)
  • Chicago (1941–1946)
  • Philadelphia (1946–1960)
  • New York City (1960–present)

Franchise owners



Unlike many professional leagues, the NFL forbids corporate owners. Ownership groups must contain twenty-four or fewer individuals, and at least one partner must hold a thirty percent or greater share of the team. The Green Bay Packers are an exemption
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

 to the current policy, since they have been a publicly owned stock corporation since before the rule was in place.

In recent years, NFL owners and the NFL itself have become politically active, donating millions of dollars to political candidates.

Uniform numbers



In the NFL, players wear uniform numbers
Squad number
In team sports, the squad number, shirt number, jersey number, sweater number, uniform number or simply a number is the number worn on a player's uniform, to identify and distinguish each player from others wearing the same or similar uniforms...

 based on the position they play. The current system was instituted into the league on April 5, 1973, as a means for fans and officials (referees, linesmen) to more easily identify players on the field by their position. Players who were already in the league at that date were grandfathered
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

 and did not have to change their uniform numbers if they did not conform. Since that date, players are invariably assigned numbers within the following ranges, based on their primary position:
  • Quarterbacks, Placekickers and Punters: 1–19
  • Wide Receivers: 10–19 and 80–89
  • Running Backs and Defensive Backs: 20–49
  • Offensive Linemen: 50–79
  • Linebackers: 50–59 and 90–99, or 40–49 if all are taken
  • Defensive Linemen: 50–79 and 90–99
  • Tight Ends: 80–89, or 40–49


Prior to 2004, wide receivers were allowed to wear only numbers 80–89. The NFL changed the rule that year to allow wide receivers to wear numbers 10–19 to allow for the increased number of players at wide receiver and tight end coming into the league. Linebackers are allowed to wear numbers between 40–49 when all of the numbers 50–59 and 90–99 are taken. Prior to that, players were allowed to wear non-standard numbers only if their team had run out of numbers within the prescribed number range. Keyshawn Johnson
Keyshawn Johnson
Joseph Keyshawn Johnson is a former American football wide receiver, interior designer, business executive, author and current television broadcaster for sports channel ESPN. He retired from football on May 23, 2007 after an eleven-year career in the National Football League...

 began wearing number 19 in 1996 because the New York Jets
New York Jets
The New York Jets are a professional football team headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, representing the New York metropolitan area. The team is a member of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 had run out of numbers in the 80s. Oakland Raider offensive center Jim Otto
Jim Otto
James Edwin Otto is a former Professional Football center for the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League.-Wausau High School and University of Miami:...

 wore a 00 jersey during most of his career with the AFL team and kept the number after the leagues merged. Devin Hester
Devin Hester
Devin Hester is an American football wide receiver and return specialist for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League . He played college football at the University of Miami, where he became the first person in the university’s recent history to play in all three phases of American football...

 is a wide receiver/return specialist for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 but wears number 23 because he was drafted as a cornerback
Cornerback
A cornerback is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers, to defend against pass offenses and make tackles. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position...

 but transferred to wide receiver
Wide receiver
A wide receiver is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is the key player in most of the passing plays. Only players in the backfield or the ends on the line are eligible to catch a forward pass. The two players who begin play at the ends of the offensive line are eligible...

 after his rookie year.

Occasionally, players will petition the NFL to allow them to wear a number that is not in line with the numbering system. Brad Van Pelt
Brad Van Pelt
Brad Alan Van Pelt was an American football linebacker who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League....

, a linebacker who entered the NFL in with the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, wore number 10 during his eleven seasons with the club, despite not being covered by the grandfather clause. In 2006, New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. They are members of the South Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League ....

 running back Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush
Reginald Alfred "Reggie" Bush II is an American football running back for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft...

 petitioned the NFL to let him keep the number 5 which he used at USC
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

. His request was later denied. Former Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are a professional American football team based in Seattle, Washington. They are currently members of the Western Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team...

 standout Brian Bosworth
Brian Bosworth
Brian Keith "The Boz" Bosworth, is a former American football linebacker. He played college football for the University of Oklahoma...

 attempted such a petition in 1987 (to wear his collegiate number of 44 at the linebacker
Linebacker
A linebacker is a position in American football that was invented by football coach Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen...

 position which he used at the University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. the university had 29,931 students enrolled, most located at its...

), also without success. The Seahawks attempted to get around the rule by listing Bosworth as a safety, but after he wore number 44 for a game against the Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. They are a member of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Originally named the Dallas Texans, the club was founded by Lamar Hunt in 1960 as a...

, the NFL ruled Bosworth would have to switch back to his original number, 55.

To aid the officials in spotting certain penalties, such as "illegal formation" or "ineligible receiver", usually only offensive players with numbers 1–49 and 80–89 are allowed to play at the end or back positions or handle the ball in normal game situations. However, a player wearing 50–79 or 90–99 may play in an "eligible" position simply by reporting to the referee that he will be doing so. The NFL numbering system is based on a player's primary position. Any player wearing any number may play at any position on the field at any time, subject to the reporting rules described above. It is not uncommon for running backs to line up at wide receiver on certain plays, or even to have a large offensive or defensive lineman play at fullback or tight end in short yardage situations. Also, in preseason games, when teams have expanded rosters, players may wear numbers that are outside of the above rules. When the final 53-player roster is established, they are reissued numbers within the above guidelines.

Awards



  • AFC Championship Game
    AFC Championship Game
    The American Football Conference Championship Game is one of the two final playoff matches of the National Football League, the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the American...

     (Lamar Hunt Trophy)
  • NFC Championship Game
    NFC Championship Game
    The National Football Conference Championship Game is one of the two semi-final playoff matches of the National Football League, the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the...

     (George S. Halas Trophy)
  • NFL Coach of the Year Award
    NFL Coach of the Year Award
    The National Football League Coach of the Year Award is presented annually by various news and sports organizations to the NFL head coach who has done the most outstanding job of working with the talent he has at his disposal. Currently, the most widely recognized award is presented by the...

  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award
    NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award
    The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award has been given out after every season since 1972 by Pro Football Weekly. The player named Comeback Player of the Year shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor...

  • NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
    NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
    The NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award is given by the Associated Press to the league's most outstanding defensive player at the end of every NFL season since 1971. Multiple-award winners include Lawrence Taylor, who won it three times, and Joe Greene, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Reggie...

  • NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award
  • NFL Most Valuable Player Award
    NFL Most Valuable Player Award
    The National Football League Most Valuable Player Award is given by various entities, most notably the Associated Press , to the player who is considered most valuable in the league. When the award is referred to without mentioning the organization, it generally means the AP award. The AP NFL MVP...

  • NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award
    NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award
    The NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award is given annually by the Associated Press to the offensive player of the National Football League believed to have had the most outstanding season...

  • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award
  • Pete Rozelle Trophy (Super Bowl MVP
    Super Bowl MVP
    The Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, or Super Bowl MVP, is an award presented annually to the most valuable player of the Super Bowl, the National Football League's championship game. The winner is chosen by a fan vote during the game and by a panel of 16 American football writers and...

    )
  • Pro Bowl MVP
  • Vince Lombardi Trophy
    Vince Lombardi Trophy
    The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the trophy awarded each year to the winning team of the National Football League's championship game, the Super Bowl.-History:...

  • Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
    Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
    The Walter Payton Man of the Year award is given annually by the National Football League honoring a player's volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. Prior to 1999, it was called simply the NFL Man of the Year Award...



Discontinued awards

  • AFL All-Star Game MVP
  • Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup
    Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup
    Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup was a silver trophy donated to the American Professional Football Association by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, Tire Division....

  • Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy
    Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy
    The Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy was the trophy awarded to the Champions of the National Football League from 1934 until 1969. The trophy was named after Ed Thorp, a noted referee, rules expert, and sporting goods dealer...

  • UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year
    UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year
    From 1960 to 1969, the United Press International gave the annual AFL Player of the Year award in the American Football League, whose teams in 1970 became the American Football Conference of the new National Football League ....

  • UPI NFC Player of the Year
    UPI NFC Player of the Year
    From 1970 to 1996, the United Press International awarded the NFC Player of the Year to players from the NFL's National Football Conference .-NFC Offensive Player of the Year:-See also:*UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year...

  • UPI NFL MVP

Cheerleading



26 of the 32 NFL teams are supported by their own professional cheerleading squads. These squads attend games and promote the team. The teams without cheerleading squads are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions.

See also


  • Association of Professional Football Leagues
    Association of Professional Football Leagues
    The Association of Professional Football Leagues was a compact formed in 1946 among the National Football League and three minor leagues of professional American football: the American Association , the Dixie League, and the Pacific Coast Professional Football League...

  • Coaching tree
    Coaching tree
    A coaching tree is similar to a family tree except it shows the relationships of coaches instead of family members. There are several different ways to define a relationship between two coaches...

  • Comparison of Canadian and American football
    Comparison of Canadian and American football
    American and Canadian football are very similar, as both have their origins in rugby football, but there are some key differences.-History:Football was introduced to North America in Canada by the British Army garrison in Montreal, which played a series of games with McGill University...

  • List of National Football League head coaches
  • Defunct NFL teams
    Defunct NFL teams
    The following is a list and brief history of American football franchises that at one time played in the National Football League . Note that the list represents NFL franchises that no longer exist, not franchises/teams that relocated. However, during the 1920s it is hard to tell if some teams...

  • Football Canada
    Football Canada
    Football Canada is the governing body for amateur Canadian football. It is Canada's representative member of the International Federation of American Football , the world's governing body for American football.-History:...

  • Glossary of American football
    Glossary of American football
    The following terms are used in American football and Canadian football, but see also the glossary of Canadian football.-0-9: A formation of the 4-3 defense featuring several dramatic shifts of personnel...

  • History of the National Football League in Los Angeles
    History of the National Football League in Los Angeles
    Professional American football, especially its established top level, the National Football League, has had a long history in Los Angeles, the center of the second-largest media market in the United States. Since 1995, Los Angeles has been by far the largest U.S. market without an NFL team...

  • Instant replay in American football
    Instant replay in American football
    In American and Canadian football, instant replay is a method of reviewing a play using cameras at various angles to determine the accuracy of the initial call of the officials...

  • Lists of American football players
  • List of current National Football League stadiums
  • List of current NFL announcers
  • List of famous American sports figures who became politicians
  • List of Professional Football Drafts
  • List of professional sports teams in the United States and Canada
  • List of sports attendance figures – the NFL's attendance in a worldwide context
  • List of TV markets and major sports teams
  • List of American and Canadian cities by number of major professional sports franchises
  • National Football League depth charts
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
    NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
    The National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team was chosen by a selection committee of media and league personnel in 1994. Years served were in the NFL, unless otherwise stated.-Offense:Source:-Defense:Source:-Special teams:Source:...

  • NFL All-Decade Teams
    NFL All-Decade Teams
    The National Football League All-Decade Teams are honorary teams named by members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Members consist of players who have been part of the National Football League since its inception in 1920. The committee selects members for each team based on...

  • NFL attendance
    NFL attendance
    The National Football League is the largest live spectator sport in the world in terms of average attendance. Despite the recession and rising ticket prices, as of the 2009-10 season the NFL averaged 67,509 live spectators per game, and 17,282,225 total for the season.Although average attendance is...

  • NFL Blitz
    NFL Blitz
    NFL Blitz is a series of American football themed video games by Midway featuring the teams of the National Football League. It began as a 1997 arcade game but was eventually ported to home consoles and spawned several sequels...

  • NFL Charities
    NFL Charities
    NFL Charities is a non-profit making charitable organization, established by the member clubs of the National Football League in 1973. It enables the clubs to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes at the national level....

  • NFL Cheerleading
  • NFL Films
    NFL Films
    NFL Films is a Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based company devoted to producing commercials, television programs, feature films, and documentaries on the National Football League, as well as other unrelated major events and awards shows...

  • NFL franchise moves and mergers
    NFL franchise moves and mergers
    Throughout the years, a number of teams in the National Football League have either moved or merged.In the early years, the NFL was not stable and teams moved frequently to survive, or were folded only to be resurrected in a different city with the same players and owners...

  • NFL Lore
    National Football League lore
    National Football League lore is a collection of information that NFL fans retain and share.Since the NFL was founded in 1920, it has grown from an informal network of teams based mostly in small towns and cities into the most popular and successful sports league in the United States...

  • NFL Network
    NFL Network
    NFL Network is an American television specialty channel owned and operated by the National Football League . It was launched November 4, 2003, only eight months after the league's 32 team owners voted unanimously to approve its formation...

  • List of NFL nicknames
  • NFL Street
    NFL Street
    NFL Street received good reviews upon release. It received a 7.75 from Game Informer, and a 9.2 from IGN. The game also received 4 stars out of 5 from GameSpy, saying that "Pick-up football was never this exciting." Additionally, Gamespot gave it a rating of 7.9, saying "If you've been eagerly...

     series
  • Personal seat license
    Personal Seat License
    A personal seat license, or PSL, gives the holder the right to buy season tickets for a certain seat in a stadium. This holder can sell the seat license to someone else if they no longer wish to purchase season tickets. However, if the seat license holder chooses not to sell the seat licenses and...

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame
    Pro Football Hall of Fame
    The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

  • USA Football
    USA Football
    USA Football is the national governing body of American football at the youth and amateur levels. An independent non-profit based in Indianapolis, USA Football, which hosts more than 100 training events annually, offers education programs for coaches and game officials as well as skill development...


Regular seasons

  • List of NFL seasons
  • List of NFL tied games (since 1974)
  • National Football League rivalries
  • National Football League: Last to First
    National Football League: Last to first
    The following is a list of National Football League teams that finished in first place in their division the season following finishing last place in their division....

  • Run to the Playoffs
    Run to the Playoffs
    Thursday Night Football is the brand name used by NFL Network for its schedule of live regular season telecasts of National Football League games on Thursday nights. Also included in the package are some Saturday specials....

     Thursday and Saturday Night Football

Postseasons

  • Active NFL playoff appearance streaks
  • History of NFL Championships
  • List of Current NFL franchise post-season droughts
  • List of NFL champions
  • List of Super Bowl champions
  • NFC Championship Game
    NFC Championship Game
    The National Football Conference Championship Game is one of the two semi-final playoff matches of the National Football League, the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the...

  • National Football League playoffs
  • One-game playoff
    One-game playoff
    A one-game playoff, sometimes known as a pennant playoff or play-in game, is a tiebreaker in certain sports—usually but not always professional—to determine which of two teams, tied in the final standings, will qualify for a post-season tournament...

  • Professional American football championship games
    Professional American football championship games
    Below is a list of professional football championship games in the United States, involving:* the informal Pittsburgh circuit of professional football teams ;...

  • Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup
    Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup
    Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup was a silver trophy donated to the American Professional Football Association by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, Tire Division....


Records

  • NFL Individual Records
    NFL records (individual)
    This is a list of records set by individual players in various categories in the National Football League.- Service :* Most seasons: 26, George Blanda, 1949–1958, 1960–1976...

  • NFL opening day standings
    NFL opening day standings
    This page is extremely inaccurate. The Jaguars and Panthers started the same year and have had the same number of Opening Days, yet this page has 15 for the Jaguars and only 14 for the Panthers. And if it was current as of the 2007 season, then it should only include 13 games for each of those...

  • NFL Standings since 1920
    NFL standings
    The following are the National Football League standings since the 1920 NFL season.Current as of September 14, 2009.-Notes:1 Entered NFL in 1976.2 Entered NFL in 1995.3 Entered NFL in 1996.4 Entered NFL in 2002.5 Did not play from 1996–1998....

  • NFL Standings since AFL-NFL merger
    NFL standings since AFL-NFL merger
    The following are the National Football League standings since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger.Super Bowls I - IV occurred PRIOR to the merger and are NOT reflected in the chart below....

  • NFL Team-Oriented Records
    NFL records (team)
    This is a list of records set by various teams in various categories in the National Football League.-Championships:*Most Super Bowl Wins, 6*Most League Championships, 13*Most Consecutive League Championships, 3*Most Times Finishing in First Place, Regular Season, 22 *Most Consecutive Times...

  • Super Bowl records

Related football leagues

  • All American Football League
    All American Football League
    The All American Football League was a proposed professional American football league. The league, which was to combine a professional pay structure with the requirement that all players be college graduates, had originally been scheduled to start in the spring of 2007, but later postponed its...

  • All-America Football Conference
    All-America Football Conference
    The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

  • American Football League
    American Football League
    The American Football League was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when the established National Football League merged with it. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence...

  • American Youth Football
    American Youth Football
    American Youth Football was established in 1996, as an international youth football organization that promotes the development of youth through their association with adult leaders in the sport of American football. Rules and regulations are established to ensure that players are in a safe...

  • Canadian Football League
    Canadian Football League
    The Canadian Football League or CFL is a professional sports league located in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, a form of gridiron football closely related to American football....

  • List of leagues of American and Canadian football
  • NFL Europa
  • United Football League


External links