The NFL, or National Football League, has become a veritable way of life in the United States. Millions tune in to watch big games at home, tens of thousands attend big games, and football stars are nothing short of national celebrities.

But it was a long, winding road from the day that the NFL was founded, to how it is today. Here is a brief look at some of the key milestones that brought the NFL into the modern era.

Early Years

The NFL was originally referred to as the APFA, or American Professional Football Association. It was officially founded on the 17th September, 1920. The first game was officially played on the 26th September, 1920.

But this association was not much more than a handful of teams playing for fun, with general interest being modest at best. Broadly speaking, the sport was not in the public eye nearly as much as it is today, and thought of as more of a niche hobby. The APFA was also disorganised in its first years, with very little to no effort made to publicise games, or attempt to draw in wider interest.

The Revolution

It wasn’t until 3 years after being established that the APFA was transformed into the NFL. The shift was largely due to the influence of Jim Thorpe, a highly respected athlete of the time. Given the celebrity status of Thorpe as an outstanding authority on sports, public attention was grabbed almost immediately. This was, of course, a time when the average person was not able to access Google, never mind play slots NZ on their phone, so it had taken a big name to get any sort of interest.

But now with Thorpe attached, the NFL was a new and exciting sporting craze, and everyone was suddenly interested on what was in store for the future.

The Original Teams

Today the NFL has a total of 32 teams, but in 1923 there was only a handful, and the odds are that just about every second person loves watching the games. The original teams included; Columbus Panhandles, Buffalo All-Americans Chicago Tigers, and the Detroit Heralds. Of course, the number of teams increased drastically as the sport gained more and more fans, with many teams going through multiple significant evolutions and changes. As such, all but two of the original teams were dropped at some point, making way for newer additions.

Only 2 of the original teams survived the decades that followed; the Arizona Cardinals, which were previously the Chicago Cardinals, and the Chicago Bears, formerly the Decatur Staleys.

Today

Currently the 32 teams in the NFL are officially divided into the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC.) After a season, 3 teams from each of these teams engage in the playoffs until, of course, the best teams engage in the Super Bowl championships.The NFL is bigger than ever before globally, with each season an explosion of media frenzy and excitement in the United States. The game never has achieved similar success anywhere else in the world, but the ravenous fans of the US have kept the game one of the most popular globally.