American Football

The National Football League got underway in 1920 when it was known as the American Professional Football Association and began with 11 teams. Despite only 4 teams being able to finish the season the league kept going and continued to expand and contract wildly over that first decade. In 1922, the APFA was re-named as the National Football League.

Only a few franchises from those early seasons still exist today, the Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals and Decatur Staleys (now Chicago Bears) were both teams in that inaugural season, the Green Bay Packers joined the APFA for their sophmore season in 1921. The New York Giants are the only other current-day franchise to particiate in that first decade, joining in 1925.

In 1966 the NFL announced they had reached a merger deal with the competing American Football League which would also establish a single “World’s Championship Game” which would later officially be known as the Super Bowl. In 1970, the NFL and AFL completed their merger with the AFL teams forming the new American Football Conference and the existing NFL teams going to the National Football Conference.


Rules in American Football

It’s 11 on 11.

The ball is placed on the field and the offense lines up across an imaginary line. The defense is on the other side of this “line of scrimmage.”

When the offense is ready they snap the ball to the quarterback (guy who throws). From there the object of the game is to advance the ball forward by running or throwing.

The offense is made up of blockers, receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks. The blockers (offensive lineman) prevent the defense from rushing forward and tackling the ball carrier. The receivers (wide receiver and tight end) sometimes block defensive backs but usually run specific patterns (routes) while waiting for the quarterback to throw the ball. The running backs are handed the ball and run forward usually through holes created by the offensive lineman. The quarterback handles every snap and either gives it to the running back or throws it to a receiver.

The defense is made up of defensive lineman, linebackers, and defensive backs. The defensive lineman run forward trying to get past the offensive lineman and tackle whoever has the ball (quarterback or running back). The linebackers have different options of either running forward at the line to tackle the ball carrier or drop back and try to cover a receiver (usually a tight end). The defensive backs (corner and safety) are responsible for preventing the receivers from catching the ball and occasionally to sneak into the backfield and tackle the ball carrier.

Offsides is either when the offensive lineman move even a muscle when they are lined up to snap the ball or when the defense runs across the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

Pass interference is when a defender prevents a receiver from moving down the field in an effort to catch the ball.  They have to stop the ball not the man.

Holding is when an offensive player physically grabs a defender preventing his movement. Offensive blockers can only get in the way and shove defenders back, no holding them.

A touchdown is when the offense either runs or throws the ball into the end zone (area at the end of the 100 yard field) earning 6 points. A field goal is when the offense kicks the ball between the goal posts earning 3 points.

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