Football has been a popular American sport for many years. The first league of professional teams was created in the 1920s and was called the American Football Association. Shortly after its creation, the American Football Association turned into the National Football League; this occurred in 1922. As more college football players entered the league, it began to attract larger crowds, leading the NFL to grow in popularity. In 1966, the NFL became the dominant football league when the American Football League and the NFL merged. Prior to the merger the two leagues were bitter rivals that constantly fought for media attention and profits. After the merger, in 1967, the first NFL Championship game was played.
The National Football League continued to grow in popularity through the 1960s and 1970s.In 1970, television stations began broadcasting football games and the American Broadcasting Company, or ABC, starting showing Monday night football. The broadcast was instantly successful and has since gone on to become one of the longest running sports programs on television. The 1970s also saw the emergence of big football stars such as Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach.
During the 1980s, the National Football League continued to grow and players started to become household names across America. This was particularly true for the San Francisco 49ers who won the Super Bowl five times in a span of ten years. The team at the time was led by Joe Montana, a Hall of Fame quarterback, and Jerry Rice, a wide receiver. It is said that Rice and Montana helped to further elevate football to a higher level. Around the same time, Lawrence Taylor began playing football in New York. He went on the be credited with changing, from a defensive standpoint, how the game was played.
In the 1990s, the NFL dealt with a big event that changed the National Football League. A lawsuit between team owners and players led to the players being given the ability to move from one team to another in what is known as free agency. This meant that once a player's contract expired, they were able to switch teams and choose who they wanted to play for. The 1990s also continued to give us big household names when it came to football players. Michael Irvin, Dan Marino, and Barry Sanders are just a few of the players that rose to fame in the 1990s.
In the 2000s just as in previous years, the National Football League continues to be a powerhouse. Teams such as the New England Patriots began to dominate, winning multiple Super Bowls. Big name players such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and many others became popular in the 2000s with many continuing to be household names today.
As the NFL has grown throughout the years since its creation, we have not only seen the emergence of dominant players and teams, but also the changing of rules. As more research has been done into the health and safety of players, new rules have been implemented to help reduce the number of concussions and other player injuries. Equipment has also evolved to provide more safety to players. The National Football League continues to be hugely popular and will likely remain that way in the future.
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