National Football League

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National Football League
National Football League 2008.svg

Current season 2021
sport American football
abbreviation NFL
League foundation 1920
Teams 32
Country countries United StatesUnited States United States
Title holder Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record champions Green Bay Packers (13)
TV partner CBS , ESPN , NFL Network , ABC , NBC , FOX , ProSiebenSat.1 Media , DAZN , , BBC Sport , Pick , Puls 4

The National Football League ( NFL ) is an American professional league in American football . It consists of 32 teams that are organized as franchises in the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). Both conferences , which essentially consist of the competing leagues NFL and AFL , which were combined in 1970 , are in turn divided into four divisions each.

The season begins after a preseason of several weeks in which only test matches are played. During the eighteen- week regular season , each team plays 17 games, after which the best teams play in the play-offs for the championship title. The four division winners and the three other best teams (the so-called wildcard teams) of a conference take part in these . The resulting champions of AFC and NFC meet in the Super Bowl , which has been taking place on the first Sunday in February for several years.

The reigning champions are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , who beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31: 9 in the Super Bowl LV .

With an annual turnover of approx. 13 billion US dollars (2016), the NFL is the sports league with the highest turnover in the world.


Early phase (until 1960)

American football was only able to establish itself as a professional sport relatively late, although or because football was very popular at universities even before 1900 and attracted six-figure spectators. There was hardly any demand for additional games, especially since college football is traditionally played in autumn and finals such as the Rose Bowl take place at the turn of the year. In the summer months, professional baseball dominated . In this American pastime , each team plays over 100 games in good weather, which generates revenue for spectators and pays full-time professionals. Football, on the other hand, requires many more players per team, while the income from a few games in the autumn was much lower and was by no means sufficient to pay a team even in the long game-free time.

As a result, gaming operations only functioned reliably at universities for decades. College football was and is popular, and the best student teams were considered first class. All other footballers were amateurs and had to make a living from normal work. After the First World War, there were individual teams who went around with stars like Jim Thorpe in the manner of a traveling circus and played games against local teams, which consisted mostly of factory workers and players with comparable social backgrounds. The Green Bay Packers (named after the Indian Packing Company ), who are the only NFL team that does not belong to one owner, but can still be viewed as a club, still remember this today.

The American Professional Football Association , which was founded on August 20, 1920 in Canton , Ohio , developed as an interest group . The first champions of this new league were the Akron Pros . It was not until 1922 that the APFA was renamed the National Football League . Game operations in the 1920s continued to be sporadic. New teams kept coming in, only to disappear again a short time later. Of the founding teams, only the Chicago Cardinals (now: Arizona Cardinals ) and the Chicago Bears (then: Decatur Staleys ) survived.

Cheerleaders at the 2006 Pro Bowl

For its early years, the NFL played by college football rules. The very defensive style of play at the time and the correspondingly low results had a very negative effect on audience interest and income. With the 1933 season, the NFL therefore introduced its own rules to promote offensive play and higher scores. The goal posts were moved from the end line to the goal line to allow more field goals. Passes were now allowed from anywhere behind the scrimmage. In order to facilitate the game of the offense, so-called hash marks, markings ten yards from the sideline, were introduced. For moves that ended outside of the hash marks, the spot was moved to the hash mark for the next down. As a result, the players could use the entire width of the field without fear of major disadvantages in the following snap if they were stopped directly on the sideline.

While there were quite a few colored players and officials like Fritz Pollard in the league in the early years , the team owners agreed in the early 1930s not to sign any colored players. This gentlemen's agreement excluded blacks from the league for well over a decade; between 1933 and 1945 no black player was active in the league; only a few lower-class professional leagues and league-independent black teams like the Brown Bombers from Harlem were open to them. This principle was only slowly deviated from after the war; as the last team, the Washington Redskins signed their first colored player in 1962.

From 1933, the league was divided into two divisions, which resulted in a final between the two division winners. A very important step was the decision of the teams in 1936 to coordinate negotiations with the players and, in particular, not to outbid one another when it came to the salary offers for players who had made a name for themselves in university teams. In this draft each year the team placed last was given the right to be the first to negotiate with a junior player of their choice, after which the second from bottom team could name a newcomer and so on in the ranking. Although the very first selected in the first NFL draft on February 8, 1936 , college player Jay Berwanger , had rejected professional football in favor of a normal professional career, this system was a success. It guaranteed sporting equilibrium, thus exciting seasons, and prevented rich teams from dominating or poor ones from ruining each other.

After the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1945, the NFL was also represented on the far west coast for the first time and was therefore no longer entirely based in its nucleus in the northeastern United States. She also grew up serious competition for the first time from 1946 to 1949 when the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was active. The AAFC was dissolved in 1950, but the athletically and economically more successful teams were accepted into the NFL. In addition to the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts , a second team from the western states was integrated into the league with the San Francisco 49ers .

NFL and AFL (1960–1969)

With the advent of television, there were additional sources of income in the late 1950s, which also made professional gaming possible in less populous cities. At that time, professional football could for the first time become nearly as popular as only college football and professional baseball before. The NFL team owners were still reluctant to compete with additional teams. Some wealthy businessmen, who had tried in vain to acquire an NFL team, founded a new league, the American Football League (AFL), with the support of the TV broadcaster ABC for the 1960 season . Thanks to a modern style of play and many innovations, this quickly became a serious competitor to the long-established NFL. The fan base was divided into two camps, and ruinous competition between the two leagues also sparked. Not only did the NFL respond to the re-establishment of the AFL with the long-overdue expansion that brought new teams into hotly contested markets like Dallas and Minneapolis-St. Paul brought (the NFL had already announced the addition of two teams in August 1959, i.e. during the preparations for the foundation of the AFL), but there was also a tough battle for the best young players, which was accompanied by significant increases in professional salaries. Later, the NFL announced two more startups in Atlanta and New Orleans at the beginning of the 1966 season, which were countered by two expansions of the AFL from initially eight to ten teams. Sooner or later, such a cooperation between the two leagues became inevitable. On June 8, 1966, after long negotiations, the two leagues published a joint press release in which they announced the merger for the 1970 season. In the meantime, in addition to a joint draft, the staging of an additional final to determine a “true” national champion between the two league champions has been agreed. The game, the first edition of which met with relatively little interest in January 1967, was quickly recognized as the new highlight of the season under the name Super Bowl and was retained even after the merger. In the NFL, which then comprised 26 teams, 13 of the "old" teams formed the National Football Conference (NFC), while the American Football Conference (AFC) was formed from three previous NFL clubs and the ten AFL teams. The conferences were divided into West, Central and East divisions, each with four or five teams.

In terms of sport, it quickly became apparent that the two leagues had played on a similar level. Although the winning Green Bay Packers under head coach Vince Lombardi , the first two Super Bowls against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders clearly, but two wins former AFL teams followed in the playoffs in 1969 and 1970. In particular, the victory of the New York Jets with Star quarterback Joe Namath on the highly favored Baltimore Colts in the third Super Bowl made it clear that the AFL was on a par with the older league.

The modern NFL (since 1970)

Under the direction of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle , the league became the premier sports brand in the United States in the 1970s. In 1970, the NFL signed a contract with ABC, which guaranteed the broadcast of a game on Monday night ( Monday Night Football ) live across the country. For the first time in its history, the league was regularly represented on prime-time television; Previously, the games had only been played on Sunday afternoons, with the television stations - as they still do today - offering different live games depending on the region. In 1976 the league was expanded for the last time for almost twenty years (after the founding of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks , the NFL had 28 teams), a year later the season was extended from 14 to 16 game days. In addition, a wildcard game between two teams was introduced in every conference, so that the winners of the divisions had a weekend break before the actual play-offs. The principle of game day design, which is still in force today, has existed since 1977, according to which, in order to ensure the balance of the league, some of the games of a team are played against those teams in the same conference that ended the previous season in the same place in their divisions. However, due to a 57-day strike by the players, the 1982 season had to be shortened to nine game days.

An NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans , 2005

In 1973, fixed jersey numbers were introduced. The running back of the Buffalo Bills , OJ Simpson , erlief this season over 2,000 yards. In 1975 the referees were given radio microphones, which has made the nature of the various rule violations easier to understand since then. The first game abroad was on August 17, 1976. In Tokyo , the then St. Louis Cardinals competed against the San Diego Chargers in a preparatory game . The American Bowl was played for the first time in 1986 , and it was also a preseason game that was played abroad. The American Bowl took place several times in Germany from 1990 onwards, each of which was held at the Olympiastadion Berlin . The NFL officials found that there was definitely interest in NFL football abroad. In 1991 they founded the World League, later known as NFL Europe . This experiment was terminated in 2007 due to a lack of audience and sponsor interest. Instead, regular season games will be played overseas in the future. It all started in October 2007 with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants , who competed at Wembley Stadium in London. This game went down in history as the second NFL game to be played outside of the United States, after a game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City in 2005 .

In 1999 , the Cleveland Browns came as the 31st team in the NFL (the Cleveland Browns played in the NFL from 1950 to 1995) and in 2002 the Houston Texans followed as the 32nd team.


In the first season of 1920, 14 teams played. For the next ten years between 22 and ten teams competed for the championship every year. The composition of the league was constantly changing teams. The low point was reached in 1932 with eight teams , also due to the economic effects of the Great Depression. Of the 1932 participating franchises, six are still represented in today's NFL.

From this point on, the number and venues of the participating teams stabilized. From 1933 onwards, the game was played in two divisions, usually with five teams. After the takeover of AAFC, twelve teams played in two conferences from 1951. In 1959/60 competition from the AFL prompted the number of franchises to be expanded by two (Dallas, Minnesota). 1966/67 came with Atlanta and New Orleans two more teams. In 1967 the two conferences were divided into two divisions each with four teams.

Due to the merger with the AFL in 1970, the number of teams increased to 26. Since then, the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC) have been played in the two conferences . From 1970 there were three divisions, with 5 or 4 teams. 1976 followed with the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the expansion agreed in the NFL-AFL merger by two more franchises. The next expansion of the league came in 1995 with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers.

A new franchise was granted for the Baltimore Ravens through the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy . Due to the Browns' break from 1996 to 1998, the number of playing teams remained 30 and finally 31 from 1999.

In order to have an even number of teams in the championship again, the last franchise to date was given to the Houston Texans in 2002. In this context, the league was reallocated. Since then, the two conferences have each comprised four divisions with four teams each. According to the NFL, this division is considered the "final" compilation.

division team Venue Stadion Founded Joined the NFL Head coach owner
American Football Conference
AFC East Buffalo Bills Orchard Park , NY Highmark Stadium Oct. 28, 1959 (AFL) 1970 Sean McDermott Terrence Pegula
Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens , FL Hard Rock Stadium 16 Aug 1965 (AFL) 1970 Brian Flores Stephen M. Ross
New England Patriots Foxborough , MA Gillette Stadium Nov 22, 1959 (AFL) 1970 Bill Belichick Robert Kraft
New York Jets East Rutherford , NJ MetLife Stadium 14 Aug 1959 (AFL) 1970 Robert Saleh Woody Johnson
AFC North Baltimore Ravens Baltimore , MD M&T Bank Stadium Feb 9, 1996 1996 1 John Harbaugh Steve Bisciotti
Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati , OH Paul Brown Stadium May 23, 1967 (AFL) 1970 Zac Taylor Mike Brown
Cleveland Browns Cleveland , OH FirstEnergy Stadium June 4, 1944 (AAFC) 1950 1 Kevin Stefanski Jimmy Haslam
Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh , PA Heinz Field July 8, 1933 1933 Mike Tomlin Dan Rooney
AFC South Houston Texans Houston , TX NRG Stadium Oct 6, 1999 2002 David Culley Janice McNair
Indianapolis Colts * Indianapolis , IN Lucas Oil Stadium Jan. 23, 1953 1953 Frank Reich Jim Irsay
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville , FL TIAA Bank Field Nov 30, 1993 1995 Urban Meyer Shahid Khan
Tennessee Titans * Nashville , TN Nissan Stadium 14 Aug 1959 (AFL) 1970 Mike Vrabel Amy Adams stalk
AFC West Denver Broncos Denver , CO Empower Field at Mile High 14 Aug 1959 (AFL) 1970 Vic Fangio Pat Bowling
Kansas City Chiefs * Kansas City , MO Arrowhead Stadium 14 Aug 1959 (AFL) 1970 Andy Reid Clark Hunt et al.
Las Vegas Raiders * Paradise , NV Allegiant Stadium Jan. 30, 1960 (AFL) 1970 Jon Gruden Mark Davis et al.
Los Angeles Chargers * Costa Mesa , CA SoFi Stadium 14 Aug 1959 (AFL) 1970 Brandon Staley Dean Spanos
National Football Conference
NFC East Dallas Cowboys Arlington , TX AT&T Stadium Jan. 28, 1960 1960 Mike McCarthy Jerry Jones
New York Giants East Rutherford , NJ MetLife Stadium Aug 1, 1925 1925 Joe Judge John Mara & Steve table
Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia , PA Lincoln Financial Field July 8, 1933 1933 Nick Sirianni Jeffrey Lurie
Washington Football Team * Landover , MD FedEx Field July 9, 1932 1932 Ron Rivera Daniel Snyder
NFC North Chicago Bears * Chicago , IL Soldier Field Sept. 17, 1920 2 1920 Matt Nagy Virginia Halas McCaskey
Detroit Lions * Detroit , MI Ford Field 1929 1930 Dan Campbell Sheila Ford Hamp
Green Bay Packers Green Bay , WI Lambeau Field Aug 11, 1919 1921 Matt LaFleur Green Bay Packers, Inc.
Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis , MN US Bank Stadium Jan. 28, 1960 1961 Mike room Zygi Wilf
NFC South Atlanta Falcons Atlanta , GA Mercedes-Benz Stadium June 30, 1965 1966 Arthur Smith Arthur Blank
Carolina Panthers Charlotte , NC Bank of America Stadium Oct 26, 1993 1995 Matt Rhule David Tepper
New Orleans Saints New Orleans , LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome Nov 1, 1966 1967 Sean Payton Gayle Benson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa , FL Raymond James Stadium April 24, 1974 1976 Bruce Arians Malcolm Glazer
NFC West Arizona Cardinals * Glendale , AZ State Farm Stadium 1898 1920 Kingsbury cliff Michael Bidwill
Los Angeles Rams * Los Angeles , CA SoFi Stadium 1936 (AFL II) 1937 Sean McVay Stan Kroenke
San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara , CA Levi's Stadium June 4, 1944 (AAFC) 1950 Kyle Shanahan Jed York
Seattle Seahawks Seattle , WA Lumen Field 4th June 1974 1976 Pete Carroll Paul Allen

An asterisk (*) indicates that the football club has made a franchise change; This means that the city in which the home games are played has been changed. More information can be found in the articles of the football clubs.

  • 1. During the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy in 1996, the NFL ceased operations for the Cleveland Browns. In 1996 the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore. Cleveland and Baltimore have agreed that the Baltimore Ravens joined the NFL as a new team in 1996 and the Cleveland Browns are a franchise founded in 1946, which ceased gaming between 1996 and 1998 and was again active in the NFL in 1999.
  • 2. Although the football club was originally founded in 1919 as a corporate team from AE Staley , George Halas is mentioned as the founder, as he was in charge of founding the team and took over in 1920.
Location dot red.svg- AFC East Square red.svg- AFC North Fire.svg- AFC South Fire upsidedown.svg- AFC West
Location dot blue.svg- NFC East Square blue.svg- NFC North Blue Fire.svg- NFC South Blue Fire upsidedown.svg- NFC West

see also: NFL team owner


Period Max. Active
1925 16
1926-1929 18th
1930-1934 20th
1935 24
1936-1937 25th
1938-1939 30th
1940-1942 33
1943-1944 28
1945-1946 33
Period Max. Active
1947 35 * -34
1948 35
1949-1950 32
1951-1956 33
1957-58 35
1959 36
1960 38
1961-1962 36
1963 37
Period Max. Active
1964-1973 40
1974 47
1975-1977 43
1978-1981 45
1982 ** 45 ** - 49
1983-1984 49
1985-1990 45
1991-2010 45 ***
since 2011 46
* 35 for the first three games
** 45 for the first two games
*** plus a third quarterback

According to the current rules, a team can never have more than 90 players under contract. The players are divided into the categories Active , Inactive , Practice Squad , Reserve , Physically Unable to Perform , Non Football Injury / Illness and Suspended . Active and inactive are determined anew for each game and regulates which players are allowed to play. Currently, a maximum of 46 players can be marked as active and seven as inactive. A maximum of ten players can be a member of the Practice Squad. Players who are injured, have resigned from professional football or are doing military service are listed under reserve. With the exception of one player, once they have been placed in the reserve, they may not be reinstated during the current season.


The Arizona Cardinals were founded in Chicago in 1898 and were a founding member of the NFL in 1920. This makes them the oldest professional football team in the USA still in existence.

The New England Patriots are six stadium changes, the team that has most changed their location ( Nickerson Field (1960-62), Fenway Park (1963-68), Alumni Stadium (1969), Harvard Stadium (1970), Foxboro Stadium ( 1971–2001), Gillette Stadium (2002 – present)). In contrast, the Green Bay Packers are the oldest remaining team in the NFL.

With six wins each in the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots are the most successful teams to date. The team with the most appearances (eleven) in the Super Bowl are the New England Patriots. The record champions of the NFL, however, are the Green Bay Packers with 13 titles.

The New England Patriots have won 64.2 percent of their play-off games, which is the highest rate (37 wins out of 20 losses). The Dallas Cowboys have the best record in the regular season with 57.3 percent (512 wins, 380 defeats and 6 draws).

The Miami Dolphins are the only team that played a perfect season , so never lost a game. They achieved this in 1972 with 14 wins in the regular season plus another three wins in the play-offs, including winning Super Bowl VII . In 2007 the New England Patriots managed a perfect regular season with 16 wins plus two play-off wins, thus 18 games without a loss. If a team has qualified for home rights in the play-offs, the regular players are often spared in the last league games and defeats are accepted, such as in 2009 at the Indianapolis Colts . The Detroit Lions lost all 16 games for the first time in 2008 , setting a negative record. In 2017, the Cleveland Browns could n't win a game either. Previously, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had lost all of their 14 games in the 1976 season .


In the NFL, as in many other US leagues, there are special trophies for players and teams who have achieved a lot and played well during the season. The honors are not given by the league and its teams, but also by the American sports press and former and active players.

The draft

Logo of the 2010 NFL draft

The rights to negotiate exclusively with young players have been shared between the NFL teams in the annual NFL Draft since 1936. The draft takes place at the beginning of April after the end of the university semester. Most of the available players are seniors , so they have spent a full four years at a university and are therefore no longer eligible to play in college football . Some players want to switch to the NFL before the end of their four university years. They have to announce this by a deadline in advance of the draft, but a return to college football is then excluded. Only players who have left high school for at least three years are allowed to register for the draft . This serves to protect the university's gaming operations and also those players who would sacrifice their training for a possible professional career.

In each of the seven rounds spread over three days, the teams are allowed to name a player, starting with the worst of the previous year, who can win a multi-million dollar contract. Sometimes the clubs also swap existing players or draft rights with one another, with several proven players already being swapped for young talents who were then unable to meet expectations. It should be noted that the teams are not allowed to pay arbitrarily high salaries for their players, the total amount of the payroll is limited ( salary cap ).

The selection in the later rounds usually receives less attention. Anyone who has not been selected after the completion of the draft can apply to be a free agent on any team.

Seasonal structure


Before the start of the actual football season, each team plays four test games , the so-called preseason games , also known as exhibition games . From the 2021 season, the number of these games will be reduced to three in favor of another regular season game. The pre-season, which takes place in August and the beginning of September, helps newly acquired players get used to the team and (in the case of rookies) to the league backdrop. Regular players are rarely used in these games to prevent injuries.

The regular season

The regular season starts at the beginning of September. Similar to college football, the NFL, with currently 32 teams, has significantly more teams than match days (currently there are 17; each team has 16 games and a game-free weekend, called bye ). A "everyone against everyone" game like in a typical European league, in which all teams compete against each other twice (at home and away), is only carried out within the respective division against the other three teams.

The division members play a further eight games against all teams of two annually rotating divisions - one from the NFC and one from the AFC. The two remaining game days are reserved for duels within their own conference, namely against those teams of the two remaining divisions that finished last season in their division on the same place. This means that each team has a total of two home and two away games against first, second, third and fourth placed from the previous year.

An example using the New England Patriots in the 2007 season: They played twice each against the remaining three teams of their AFC East , once each against all teams of the AFC North and NFC East and (as last year's winner of the AFC East ) against the two First place finishers from AFC West and AFC South of the 2006 season.

Thus, the schedule of each team is different. However, the total strength of the opponents will be taken into account if two teams have the same balance sheet in qualifying for the play-offs , but have not faced each other in direct comparison.

Since 1936, all teams in the NFL have had to play the same number of games. There were twelve that year. From 1937 to 1942 and 1946 eleven, from 1943 to 1945 ten due to the war. Twelve games from 1947 to 1960 and 14 games from 1961 to 1977. The current 16-game rule has been in effect since 1978.

Since the end of 2008 there have been plans to add one or two game days to the season; there were very concrete discussions between the owners of the teams on the one hand and the management of the NFL and the players' union on the other, in which several scenarios have already been discussed. In summer 2009 it was decided to stick with the current regulation until the entire cycle was run through. A cycle means that the teams from all leagues have played in all possible combinations against the teams from all other leagues.

The play-offs

For historical reasons, qualification for the finals will continue to be carried out separately in AFC and NFC, even if the fourteen best teams (twelve up to the 2019 season) do not progress. Seven teams each qualify for the play-offs. These are the winners of the four divisions North, South, East and West as well as the three best-placed teams ("wildcards") of a conference, which are determined on the basis of the win / loss ratio. So up to three teams of a division can compete in the play-offs and reach the "divisional play-offs".

The best-placed team has a bye in the “Wild Card Round”. The second best team receives the worst, the third placed team receives the sixth worst and the fourth placed receives the fifth placed. In the “Divisional Play-offs” that follow, the best-placed team plays against the worst remaining team and the second-best remaining team against the second-worst. The winners of the play-offs, in turn, decide their “Conference Championships” in the stadium of the better placed. In the Super Bowl , after a weekend break, the champions of AFC and NFC will compete against each other on a predetermined space.

Super bowl

The Super Bowl is the final game of every NFL season. It is one of the largest individual sporting events in the world and takes place on the first Sunday in February. The Super Bowl Sunday includes the final game and related festivities and has the status of an unofficial national holiday in the US. There he always achieved the highest audience rating of all TV shows of the year. Most of the time, the Super Bowl takes place in more southerly parts of the United States, because according to NFL regulations, the average temperature of the venue during this time of year must be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius ). Exceptions are cities whose stadiums have a closed roof, such as Detroit.

The best single player in the Super Bowl is awarded the Super Bowl MVP (from English most valuable player for "most valuable player"). Mostly it is a quarterback , running back or wide receiver .

Of the 32 current teams, only the Carolina Panthers , Cincinnati Bengals , Houston Texans , Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars have never won a championship in the NFL or any previous league.

List of champions of the National Football League

team NFL
Super Bowl
Year (s)
Green Bay Packers logo.svg Green Bay Packers 13th 4th 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1996, 2010
Chicago Bears logo.svg Chicago Bears 9 1 1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963, 1985
New York Giants logo.svg New York Giants 8th 4th 1927, 1934, 1938, 1956, 1986, 1990, 2007, 2011
Pittsburgh Steelers logo.svg Pittsburgh Steelers 6th 6th 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008
New England Patriots 6th 6th 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018
Washington Football Team 5 3 1937, 1942, 1982, 1987, 1991
San Francisco 49ers logo.svg San Francisco 49ers 5 5 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994
Dallas Cowboys.svg Dallas Cowboys 5 5 1971, 1977, 1992, 1993, 1995
Detroit Lions 4th 0 1935, 1952, 1953, 1957
Cleveland Browns helmet rightface.svg Cleveland Browns 4th 0 1950, 1954, 1955, 1964
Indianapolis Colts logo.svg Indianapolis Colts 4th 2 1958, 1959, 1970, 2006
Philadelphia Eagles 4th 1 1948, 1949, 1960, 2017
Oakland Raiders 3 3 1976, 1980, 1983
Los Angeles Rams 3 1 1945, 1951, 1999
Denver Broncos 3 3 1997, 1998, 2015
Canton Bulldogs 2 0 1922, 1923
Arizona Cardinals 2 0 1925, 1947
Miami Dolphins 2 2 1972, 1973
Baltimore Ravens 2 2 2000, 2012
Kansas City Chiefs logo.svg Kansas City Chiefs 2 2 1969, 2019
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 2 2002, 2020
Akron Pros 1 0 1920
Cleveland Bulldogs 1 0 1924
Frankford Yellow Jackets 1 0 1926
Providence Steam Roller 1 0 1928
New York Jets logo.svg New York Jets 1 1 1968
NewOrleansSaints.svg New Orleans Saints 1 1 2009
Seattle Seahawks 1 1 2013

The year of the regular season is given , even if the Super Bowl (or the NFL championship game before the 1966 season) took place in January or February of the following year. This count has established itself in reporting and is also officially used by the clubs and the league.

Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl is an all-star game , in which participation is seen as a great honor for the nominated players and promotes their market value. The players are nominated through votes among fans, who nominate the first eleven players from offense and defense , and journalists, who fill up the roster. The Pro Bowl was the last game of the NFL season until the 2008 season, after the Super Bowl . Since the 2009 season it has been held a week before the Super Bowl. At the Pro Bowl, the best players from the American Football Conference (AFC) compete against the best players from the National Football Conference (NFC).

The traditional color of the NFC is blue, that of the AFC is red. The Conference team that provided the Super Bowl winner is the home team. Every Pro Bowl player wears his NFL team's helmet and has his team's patch on his jersey. If possible, he wears the same jersey number as in his own team. The head coaches are also nominated by the respective conferences and traditionally wear red or blue Hawaiian shirts .

Traditionally, the game took place annually from the 1979 season to the 2008 season at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii. Since the 2009 season, the Pro Bowl should take place in ever-changing locations, but by the 2010 season it was held again in Hawaii.

NFL commissioner

Until 1941, organization was the responsibility of a president elected by the team owners. Following the example of professional baseball, a commissioner was appointed in 1941, who was granted extensive rights with regard to game and league operations.

NFL Europe

The NFL Europe (most recently: NFL Europe ) was the European "offshoot" of the National Football League. On the one hand, it served the training and sighting of young American players and, on the other hand, tried to make the sport and the NFL known in Europe. Accordingly, the game operation was completely financed by the NFL. A team in the NFL Europe consisted for the most part of NFL reserve players who were initially assigned to the individual teams, as well as eight so-called "Nationals", who came from Europe, Mexico or Japan and were used in the national phases of a game, which were used by a European banner was displayed and obliged the teams to use at least one national in the next move.

The league was subject to regular changes. Both their structure and the participating teams changed frequently. Most recently it consisted of six teams, five of which ( Rhein Fire , Frankfurt Galaxy , Berlin Thunder , Cologne Centurions and Hamburg Sea Devils ) from Germany . The sixth team were the Amsterdam Admirals from the Netherlands . In June 2007, the NFL Europe was dissolved by the NFL and game operations were discontinued.


Animal rights activists criticize the NFL for their regulations, which require that the game balls are made from real cowhide . The sporting goods manufacturer Wilson uses the skin of around 3,000 cattle annually to meet the needs of the NFL. An adjustment to the regulations of the Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Basketball Association (NBA), which prescribe artificial leather, is required.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lamented in August 2016 that the NFL fostered a climate that would encourage players to withhold their opinions on questions outside of the sport because they feared negative effects. In this context, he praised the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver , who had managed to get NBA players to stand up for their opinion publicly and to feel comfortable with it.

The 88 plan

In September 2007, the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) jointly launched the 88 Plan, which provides families of former NFL players with financial support for medical help and care, provided they are eligible for the Bert Bell / Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan and are affected by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) , Dementia, Alzheimer's, ALS, or Parkinson's . The 88 plan was initiated by a letter in May 2006 from Sylvia Mackey, wife of John Mackey , an affected NFL veteran, to then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and named after John Mackey's jersey number 88. It grants a maximum of US $ 88,000 per year per player if the player is cared for outside the family and US $ 55,000 for caregiving within the family. Among the first recipients of the services were John Mackey and Dick Evey , in the 1960s defensive and offensive tackle among others with the Chicago Bears. By the end of 2007, the 88 plan had paid out US $ 861,502.64 to 51 former players, averaging less than US $ 17,000 per case. Then, by June 2011, almost $ 13 million had been paid out to 166 players and only 13 players were denied support. In May 2007, the Alzheimer's Association of New York honored NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw for his role in developing the 88 plan.

Television rights

The TV rights to the NFL are among the most expensive in the world. In the United States , the games are broadcast on four television networks ( NBC , FOX , CBS and the sports channel ESPN ). The NFL will receive a total of US $ 21 billion for TV rights from 2009 to 2014, or around US $ 4.2 billion per season. In addition, the NFL's own broadcaster NFL Network shows programs related to the NFL.

For the contract concluded from 2023 to 2033 with NBC, FOX, CBS, ESPN / ABC and Amazon, the broadcasters pay a total of 110 billion US dollars, almost twice as much as in the previous contract period.

For continental Europe, ESPN America had owned the rights since September 2005. Four games were broadcast live per game day.

In Germany, the Super Bowl was shown for the first time in 1999 on Sat.1's free TV. The station secured the TV rights for 1999 to 2003. From 2006 to 2011, the Super Bowl was broadcast live on ARD . ProSiebenSat.1 Media has held the broadcast rights again since 2012 . From August 2013 to 2015, the NFL was broadcast on the pay TV channel Sport1 US . Since the 2015 season, two Sunday games have been broadcast on ProSieben Maxx every Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. , with individual games also being shown by ProSieben and Sat.1. There is also a game every Sunday on the ran website . The play-offs were broadcast by ProSieben Maxx and Sat.1 and Super Bowl 50 was broadcast by Sat.1. Since September 2016, DAZN has been broadcasting the conference (NFL Redzone) and live games commented in German.

In Austria, individual regular season games , the conference finals and the Super Bowl were broadcast live by the public broadcaster ORF from 1998 to 2009 . In 2010 the Conference Finals and the Super Bowl were broadcast live for the first time on the private television broadcaster Puls 4 . Since the 2010 season, Puls 4 has been broadcasting a Sunday game per round in addition to the play-offs and super bowls.

In the UK , Sky Sports will broadcast five games and all play-off games each day of the regular season. The International Series is broadcast on BBC Sport .


In the 2009 season, an average of 67,509 viewers attended the NFL games in the regular season . This means that the NFL has the highest average attendance in a professional league worldwide. The Dallas Cowboys had the best average attendance with 89,756 visitors, while the Oakland Raiders were at the bottom with 44,284 visitors per home game. The total number of viewers in the regular season was just under 17.3 million. The most popular game was the season opening of the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants , which set an NFL record with 105,121 spectators. On average, an entry ticket cost about $ 75 in the 2009 season.

In the 2017 season, the NFL saw a significant drop in TV viewers in the United States because of the anthem dispute. US President Donald Trump had criticized the NFL for the fact that many players kneel while playing the US anthem in protest against racism and police violence. The audience ratings fell by 9.7 percent to an average of 14.9 million viewers per transmission.

Video games

EA Sports has published an American football video game every year since the early 1990s. Named after former trainer and commentator John Madden Madden NFL , the series is the top- selling video game series in North America each year. In December 2004 EA signed a contract with the NFL, which guaranteed the game developer the exclusive rights for NFL simulations. As a result, other developers have since been banned from marketing games with an NFL license. In March 2020 it was announced that the game manufacturer 2K had secured the rights to non-simulations of the NFL.

Well-known players and parts of the team

When a group of players plays together successfully for a long time, nicknames are established among fans and the press . Some examples are for

Defense team parts:

Attack Formations:

Single player:

  • Jerome Bettis , nicknamed The Bus because of his stature and the way he broke through opposing defenses
  • Michael Irvin , known as The Playmaker , wide receiver of the Dallas Cowboys , who repeatedly produced big plays despite double coverage
  • Daryl Johnston , called Moose (Elk), played his entire career (1989-1999) with the Dallas Cowboys and was the pre-blocker of Emmitt Smith as a fullback . As an excellent pass recipient, he had more receptions than running plays. Even in unfamiliar stadiums, he was accompanied by the spectators with a drawn out "Moooose" every time he made contact with the ball.
  • Ed 'Too Tall' Jones , Dallas Cowboys Defensive End . The Too Tall refers to his height of 2.06 m, which made it very difficult for the opposing quarterbacks to pass. In a total of 15 seasons he scored 106 quarterback sacks as a member of the Doomsday Defense .
  • Joe Montana , known as The Comeback Kid , is one of the great quarterbacks in the NFL. Known for his unwavering composure in 31 game-changing drives in the 4th Quarter, played in four Super Bowls and won them with the San Francisco 49ers
  • Joe Namath , known as Broadway Joe , who as quarterback of the New York Jets "guaranteed" and achieved the first Super Bowl victory of an AFC team beforehand
  • Walter Payton , known as Sweetness , is the Chicago Bears running back for his elegance on and off the field
  • William Perry , called Refrigerator or The Fridge , Defensive Tackle of the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, and the London Monarchs , who has been compared to a running refrigerator because of his size and weight
  • John Riggins , called The Diesel , running back of the New York Jets and Washington Redskins, whose powerful runs have been compared to a heavy truck at full speed
  • Reggie White , called The Minister of Defense , former Defensive End in the USFL , with the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles , served as a minister of a congregation (198 QB-Sacks in the NFL)
  • Marshawn Lynch , called Beastmode , running back of the Buffalo Bills , Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders based on his distinctive power runs

See also

Portal: American Football  - Overview of Wikipedia content on American football


  • Michael MacCambridge: America's game . Random House, New York 2004, ISBN 0-375-50454-0 .
  • Dieter Hoch, Holger Korber, Dirk Ladwig: The history of the NFL: From the small beginnings to the rise of the largest professional league in the world . Huddle Verlags GmbH, 2016, ISBN 978-3-9811390-6-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

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  2. Pro football researchers: Happy Birthday NFL? ( Memento of February 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF file; 40 kB), accessed on August 20, 2010
  3. see MacCambridge, p. 125
  4. see MacCambridge, p. 227 f.
  5. ^ History: History of NFL franchises, 1920-present . Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  6. 2015 official NFL Record and Fact Book. (PDF (53 MB)) In: National Football League, p. 36 , accessed July 18, 2015 .
  7. atrick Hruby, Thomas Neumann: Who's worst ever - '08 Lions or '76 Bucs? ESPN, December 24, 2008, accessed March 28, 2016 .
  8. Christian Riedel: 111 reasons to love American football . Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf , Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-86265-513-7 , pp. 76 .
  9. Darin Gantt: Aaron Rodgers: NFL players fear repercussions from league for speaking out. NBC Sports, August 16, 2016, accessed August 16, 2016 .
  10. a b Larry Mayer: Dick Evey's daughter thankful for NFL's 88 plan . (No longer available online.) In: Chicago Bears , July 3, 2013, archived from the original on January 6, 2014 ; accessed on January 4, 2014 .
  11. ^ NFL Player Care - 88 Plan . In: NFL , archived from the original on March 13, 2013 ; accessed on January 4, 2014 .
  12. ^ A b Peter Keating: Congress questions NFL record-keeping on disabled players . In: ESPN , December 4, 2007; accessed January 4, 2014 .
  13. John Gibeaut: Thrown for a Loss: Retired Players Sue, Claim NFL Hid Brain Damage Info . In: ABA Journal , November 1, 2011, accessed January 4, 2014 .
  14. NFL defies the crisis. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 29, 2009, accessed August 2020 (Swiss Standard German).
  15. Perform Media Deutschland GmbH: $ 110 billion: NFL announces new TV contract. March 18, 2021, accessed March 19, 2021 .
  16. NFL & Super Bowl News, Schedule, Results, Tables, Dates . In: . June 12, 2013 ( [accessed August 9, 2018]).
  17. NFL live: ran massively expands football coverage with 50 live games plus the Super Bowl. 50 live games plus Super Bowl on free TV and stream. In: Sat1, July 8, 2015, accessed July 10, 2015 .
  18. Perform Media Deutschland GmbH: RedZone, Primetime, Network: Stream and offer from DAZN . January 1, 2018 ( [accessed February 7, 2018]).
  19. Super Bowl live on Puls 4 ( Memento from September 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on January 11, 2010
  20. Where to watch. Retrieved April 17, 2016 .
  21. Nick Harris: NFL maintains massive lead in attendance | Sporting Intelligence. In: January 4, 2010, Retrieved August 20, 2020 (American English).
  22. 2009 NFL Football Attendance - National Football League - ESPN. Retrieved January 14, 2018 .
  23. Sean Leahy, NFL average ticket prices rise; thank the Dallas Cowboys. In: October 10, 2009, accessed August 20, 2020 .
  24. NFL - NFL: Ten percent fewer viewers in 2017 in the USA . In: . January 5, 2018 ( [accessed August 9, 2018]).
  25. eSports - Contract with the NFL: 2K returns to football. March 10, 2020, accessed January 16, 2021 .