Jim Thorpe who was a player and a coach for the football team Canton Bulldogs, together with Leo Lyons who owns a football team called Rochester Jeffersons, were the mastermind behind the National Football League (Schweizer and McGovern, 2001, p. 60). The two teams these two guys were a member of were brainstorming one day. It was when the Bulldogs triumphed over the Jeffersons in a match in 1917 when Lyons brought up the idea of forming a league to Thorpe. During this time, Major League Baseball was very popular (Schweizer and McGovern, 2001, p. 60).
Thorpe entertained the idea and liked it very much, and decided to pursue the goal immediately. However, Spanish flu became rampant during that time. A lot of football players died in the Great War. There was chaos everywhere, and forming a league was almost impossible. In fact, because of the social unrest, operations had to be suspended (Schweizer and McGovern, 2001, p. 60). The operations of the Bulldogs had to be on a halt. It had to end real soon. Schedules of games were no longer followed because it was deemed necessary to reduce the schedules only to the local groups.
It was in 1917 when Lyons came up with the idea of forming a league. It was in 1918 when all the disorder became more noticeable (Schweizer and McGovern, 2001, p. 61). After one year, Lyons could still not get over the unpursued plans, so he went back to New York to encourage teams in Buffalo to a championship match. The Buffalo Prospects were not to back out from this challenge. They gladly accepted the offer and played the game against the Jeffersons for the championship. In this round, the Jeffersons lost to the Buffalo Prospects (Yost, 2006, p. 52).
The Bulldogs, by this time, already belonged to Ohio League, which was then an unofficial league. The teams who were part of this league included Ironton Tanks, Shelby Blues, Massillon Tigers and the Bulldogs. Ralph Hay, who was managing the Bulldogs, plus the other Ohio teams, were all convinced by Thorpe to play following the format of a league. Everyone agreed to do this, so a brainstorming session was expected. Everyone contributed to the success of the goals. It was done against Hammond Pros of Chicago, Michigan, and the Detroit Heralds (Yost, 2006, p. 52). During this time, other teams were also holding a game.
There were games all over the United States – New York City, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. However, while New York City and Pennsylvania had teams, they were not a contributor to the founding of the National Football League as the blue laws of the latter kept the teams from joining the NFL. It was not until 1924 when the teams were finally liberated from the laws (Yost, 2006, p. 52). The New League The formalization of the league did not come immediately. Football enthusiasts had to wait. Formalization only took place at a Hupmobile dealership help in August 1920 in Ohio.
It was first known as the APFC, or the American Professional Football Conference. What this league was composed of were Ohio League teams. However, not all teams that were part of the Ohio League joined. In fact, a lot of them decided not to participate (National Football League, 2009). After a month, the American Professional Football Conference was changed to the American Professional Football Association. Since a lot of teams played from the neighboring areas, more teams joined the league. Soon other teams joined the league, and among the teams include Detroit, Hammond, and two from the New York league namely Rochester and Buffalo.
Finally, there were eleven teams that founded the league (National Football League, 2009). All teams became subject to an agreement over the declared champion at the end of the season, and player poaching. At this time, Thorpe was still a member of the Bulldogs and remained a player for the said team. He was in fact the president of the team. Out of all the teams that founded the team, only four of them finished the schedule in the year 1920. The first champions went undefeated for years, and that team was the Akron Pros. Akon Pros was the first champion of the league (National Football League, 2009).
More teams became interested in the league. Most of the teams that were added to the list came from the teams in New York. The total number of teams reached 22 in as early as 1921, although this is not to say that membership was already going smooth and stable in the whole decade of the 1920s (National Football League, 2009). In fact, the league was still not considered a national game no matter how many teams have been interested in it, and no matter how many people were actually willing to support the and enjoy the league. It frustrated many people. The league decided to change its name again.
It finally became the NFL, or the National Football League, on June 24, 1922 (National Football League, 2009). The Birth of the “NFL” At this point in time, two charter members were existing. They were the Chicago Bears, which was formerly known as Decatur Staleys, and the Arizona Cardinals, which used to carry the name Chicago Cardinals. A team which was lightly a part of the National Football League history was there all along, but was not given much significance since it did not join league plays. It was the Green Bay Packers, which was popular for not having changed locations.
It was only in 1921 when the said team started playing in the league (National Football League, 2009). The Indianapolis Colts had a rich history, which can be seen through its multiple predecessors. The team is regarded as a separate franchise. It was founded later, only in 1953, and was named the Baltimore Colts. Other teams started to bid their goodbyes, including Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo among other original NFL teams. However, this did not stop the National Football League to develop. There were many replacement franchises to make up for the absence of the teams that no longer existed.
New franchises were established (National Football League, 2009). Post-World War College football catered to many fans. It was actually a very big game that millions of people looked forward to. However, after the Second World War, people started to get bored with college football as their attention was diverted to a more challenging game: the professional football game (National Football League, 2009). Because professional football rivaled the football game college students were playing, rules started to be modified. Newer innovations were being released from time to time.
It was during this time, too, when the T-formation was started. Football then was no longer just a game for recreation. It became a game that demanded for higher scores (National Football League , 2009). After many years, the National Footbal League was joined by three teams in 1950. teams came from the All-America Football Conference which was no longer functioning at that time. It expanded to 13 clubs. Because of this fast expansion and rising popularity of the sport, professional football has etched its space in the world as a major sport.