History of American Football!

History of Football

Football Rules

Women in Football

Frequently Asked Questions

History of American Football

American football is a very popular game in the US, also known as football in Canada. Football has some definite origins linked to Rugby football that was played during the 18th century in England. Football has a cousin in the name of soccer which also draws its origins from the game of rugby. However, soccer is the more stringent form of game, not allowing carrying of ball using hands and some other rules allowed in football like forward pass. Football is different in so much so that it retains the originality of rugby game and is the more sophisticated version of rugby football. Interestingly, the game of football is referred in Japan as "Amefuto".

Historical beginning at college level

The game of football got introduced at the college level in the US after almost 200 years since its introduction. In 1867, the first sets of rules for American football were drawn up at Princeton College. According to the Princeton rules, twenty-five players were allotted to each team. Meanwhile, Rutgers also established its own football rules based upon London Association Football Rules. Princeton and Rutgers played the first historical match of football on November 6, 1869 at New Brunswick. The game then had almost the same rules as soccer except that the handling of ball was allowed when a player was stationary. However, running with the ball and throwing it was also not allowed. The winner was decided based upon the team who scored six goals first. Rutgers won the match.

The team met again in a match two weeks later. This time Princeton rules were applied which allowed a free kick when a clean catch was made and the winning team had to score 8 goals. Princeton won by 8-0. The game became popular in other colleges, especially Columbia, Harvard and Yale

Chauncey Camp of YALE: New face to the game

It was the year 1880 that Walter Chauncey Camp of Yale’s University set new rules for the game. In a significant turn, the number of players was reduced from fifteen to eleven. The standard team line-up was put in place, seven linemen, a quarterback, 2 halfbacks and one fullback. Again, two years later, the Camp came up with downs and yardage rules.

In the original game, it was 5 yards in three downs. With intent to know how far a player had moved up the field, parallel lines were drawn onto the pitch at an interval of five yard. The year 1883 marked introduction of scoring system of points for touchdowns, field goals, 'points after' touchdowns, and safeties. In 1888, tackling below the waist was allowed.

In 1894, representatives of leading college teams held a meeting of involved groups of players excluding opposing players. The play time was decreased from ninety to seventy minutes.

From 1900 onwards

The alterations and new rules had some effect on the development of football game. However, the game was still very jagged, sometimes dangerous for players. In the year 1905, sixty representatives from different college teams met to discuss different problems and safety issues of the game. The following year saw some significant changes made to the game like reducing the playing time to sixty minutes, allowing forward pass, introduction of neutral zone for gap between the line of scrimmage and increase in number of yards to ten.

One of the major problems of the game interlocked interference was banned in the year 1910. Pushing and pulling of the ball carrier was also forbidden. This led to increased safety of players. In 1912, the number of downs was increased from three to four.

The American Professional Football Association (APFA) was formed at Canton headed by Tom Thorpe. In 1921 it was reorganized after initial poor performance with Joseph Carr of Columbus, Ohio as its president.

The first league season in 1921 had thirteen main teams. The teams were: Akron Pros, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs, Chicago Cardinals, Cincinatti Celts, Cleveland Indians, Columbia Panhandles, Dayton Triangles, Detroit Heralds, Green Bay Packers, and Rock Island Independents.