American Football

One of America's favorite pastimes, football, sure has changed over the years . . .
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Beginning in the latter 1800s, American football - a combination of soccer and rugby - became popular on college campuses. The first football game was played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton - in New Jersey. Very different from what we consider football today, the rules, the number of players, and even the way of playing immediately began evolving until 1880, when Walter Camp structured the game with a series of rules - which included team size and the system of downs. He is widely considered the father of football, though the rules have futher evolved - and are doing so today.

And the game really took off, now being a matter of big business - pro football, and school pride - college and high school football. Consider these facts about American football:

  • In order to prove their toughness to their fathers and grandfathers— many of them Civil War veterans —the young men who played American football at the turn of the 20th century played "rough". Colliding with other players with regularity, they didn't wear helmets - and little protective clothing. In 1905, 18 players died as a result of the injuries they got playing football.
  • The NFL was formed in Canton on Sept. 17, 1920 - it was first called the American Professional Football Association.
  • The NFL requires that all stadiums be built facing north and south so that the sun never interferes with a play. (Although that means that spectators could have the sun in their eyes!)
  • American football employs several officials at a game in order to ensure fairness. They are the referee - the highest ranking official - the umpire, the back judge, the head linesman, the side judge, the line judge and the field judge.
  • 1.084 million boys - and about 1,500 girls - played high school football in 2017
  • The NFL made about $13 Billion In 2016.

Discover how the game and gear have changed since the 1880s with these popular football photos.
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A photo of Frank Gifford when he was playing for the New York Giants (when players stayed with one team for the entirety of their career!). He played both offense and defense but was best known as a quarterback. In college, he played for USC. After he retired from football, he became a sportscaster and (sometime) actor. Francis Newton "Frank" Gifford was born August 16, 1930 and died August 9, 2015 at the age of 84. He is survived by his 2nd wife, Kathie Lee and his five children by his two marriages, as well as five grandchildren.
People in this photo:
Aug 16, 1930 - Aug 9, 2015
Added Aug 10, 2015 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
23.0k+ favorites
A photo of the Mohawk football team, circa 1919
A photo of Steve Banois, all-American football center, Detroit, Michigan
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of the football team of Drake University of Des Moines at the White House
The padding doesn't seem to protect these young children enough.
A photo of football captain Edward Mahon of the Howard team.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of young football fans, unable to finance a ticket to the Woodrow Wilson High School-Georgetown Preparatory School game, watch it through the fence at Woodrow Wilson High School
A photo of schoolboys at Concho, Arizona playing football.
This is a photo of Ernest Verbarg added by Karen McKee on February 23, 2020.
People in this photo:
Sep 23, 1929 - February 1972
Added Feb 23 by: Karen McKee
Karen McKee
13 favorites
A photo of Richard L Beverlin
People in this photo:
Feb 8, 1936 - Jul 30, 2001
Added Feb 1 by: Terri Beverlin
Terri Beverlin
6 favorites
Topics:
Full-length view of 1909 University of Missouri football captain Carl L. 'Curly' Ristine in his football uniform. He became a lawyer. He would later serve in both World W ar One and World War Two. Big Man on Campus
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added May 19, 2019 by: Gaye Thomas
Gaye Thomas
341 favorites
A photo of Mike Webster
People in this photo:
Mar 18, 1952 - Sep 24, 2002
Added Apr 20, 2019 by: Amanda S. Stevenson
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.0k+ favorites
Topics:
A photo of Mike Webster
People in this photo:
Mar 18, 1952 - Sep 24, 2002
Added Apr 20, 2019 by: Amanda S. Stevenson
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.0k+ favorites
Topics:
A photo of James Francis Thorpe on the Canton Bulldogs football team, circa 1915
People in this photo:
May 22, 1887 - Mar 28, 1953
Added May 19, 2018 by: Amanda S. Stevenson
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.0k+ favorites
A photo of Clarendon Petty
People in this photo:
Jan 2, 1909 - April 1986
Added Apr 20, 2018 by: Tom Petty
Tom Petty
18 favorites
A photo of Don Heinrich
People in this photo:
Sep 19, 1930 - Feb 29, 1992
Added Mar 28, 2018 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
23.0k+ favorites
Topics:
A photo of Don Heinrich
People in this photo:
Sep 19, 1930 - Feb 29, 1992
Added Mar 28, 2018 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
23.0k+ favorites
Topics:
Jets vs Raiders, 1968 - the last two minutes of the game, in which the Raiders came from behind to win, weren't shown. The network cut in to show a remake of the movie "Heidi." A huge uproar ensued.
Added Jan 17, 2018 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
23.0k+ favorites
A photo of Charles Edward Kennedy Sr. - Margaret Elaine Rhoades Husband
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Jan 2, 2018 by: Elaine Kennedy
Elaine Kennedy
265 favorites
Topics:
A photo of the 1928 Algoma Wisconsin football team
Added Jun 5, 2016 by: Nick Titel
Nick Titel
2 favorites
A photo of Horace Lucas and his high school football team in John Day, Grant, Oregon in the 1920s.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
A photo of a Wilson or Dowling boy in football gear, California
Added May 30, 2015 by: Brenda Wagner
Brenda Wagner
266 favorites
A photo of George Tyler Howe
People in this photo:
Dec 23, 1890 - Jun 19, 1959
A photo of Harry W Massey while at Florida State University
People in this photo:
Mar 7, 1932 - Mar 17, 2002
Added Sep 25, 2014 by: Franck Massey
Franck Massey
6 favorites
A photo of Kevin Joseph Ellenz
People in this photo:
Sep 12, 1959 - Jul 12, 1979
My dad in his Holyrood, KS football uniform.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Sep 15, 2013 by: Barb Walton
Barb Walton
15 favorites
A photo of Raymond Wilfenger, 1936 - 1982.
People in this photo:
May 13, 1936 - Apr 8, 1982
Added Mar 10, 2013 by: Nicolle White
Nicolle White
3 favorites
Byron Bailey with his daughter Laura Bailey. By played football for Washington State University and became a professional football star - By played for the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and the B.C. Lions. He is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Dec 15, 2012 by: Mark McCullough
Mark McCullough
31 favorites
My Father, James Richard Moore (Jarin Jimmy Moore) #43 of The Flint Dye High School Thunderbolts undefeated 1953 state champions football team inducted into the greater Flint sports hall of fame. My father the only player to go all state that year and the only player of Flint Dye high school to ever have his number retired.
People in this photo:
Apr 4, 1935 - Unknown
Nicholas Pierce Kirwan, aka "Nick" Kirwan attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and played 3 years Varsity for Coach "Pop" Warner as one of his Quarterbacks. He played for Stanford for their very first Rose Bowl appearance against Notre Dame, and was second string to the great Ernie Nevers. Ernie almost won that game for Stanford with two broken ankles, and my grandfather sat rapt and ready on the bench, but Ernie played a very fine game despite the loss.
People in this photo:
Apr 17, 1903 - Jan 30, 1992
My friend Bubba (Albert Flores, Jr.) recounted his encounter with Junior Seau. In light of the former Charger & Patriot linebacker's death, I think below sheds a positive perspective and a great story. "On my final day of a business trip last year to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., I was walking along the Oceanside Harbor in search of a place to eat and have a few beers. In the mood for something simple I had hoped to find a small bar that served food and was not too crowded. I came across exactly that—a small bar with maybe six customers inside. Sitting next to me at the bar were three large men of Samoan decent who were laughing and having a good time with the bartender. I wasn't sure at first, but then after a double-take it clicked in my head that I was sitting with Junior Seau. He was a monster of a man, wearing a ball cap and all smiles. I couldn't believe that I was sitting next to one of my favorite football players growing up as a kid. The same linebacker that I impersonated for years on all my football video games. After a few minutes, the older of the three Samoan men had asked what I was up to in Oceanside and I had told him that I was a Captain in the Marines headed back to my home station at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Junior Seau interrupted and said, "Wow, man. I really admire what you do. You guys are real heroes." Starstruck for a moment, I didn't know how to respond. Did one of my childhood heroes really just call me a hero? He did indeed, and refused to let me pay for my dinner or any more drinks for the night. I was surprised to find out that Junior Seau was not only a former member of the Patriots, he was an American patriot. Junior then introduced me to the other two men sitting with him, his cousin and his uncle. I couldn't believe how sincerely interested Junior and his family were about my military service. They asked about helicopters, machine guns, parachuting and even expressed gratitude towards military families and specifically spouses for enduring such hardship during a time of war. Full size After a couple of hours of talking, Junior then began to brag about his musical talent. That he had sat "first chair" in his high school band and that was something most people didn't know about him. I called him on it and he was up to the challenge. Junior said, "You sit right there, Captain, I'm gonna go to my car and get my ukulele. We're gonna spread some joy around here." I didn't know it at the time, but over the next two hours the way in which I look at football players would be changed forever. Junior returned to the bar with his ukulele and started to play. The tune from "Brown-Eyed Girl" was coming from Junior's ukulele at it was surprisingly good. Then, he started to sing ... and he was amazing. One of the most ferocious tacklers in the history of football was playing a ukulele in an empty bar at 11:00 p.m. and serenading the few that remained. He then started to play some more and his cousin and uncle joined in the chorus. They were a harmonic family full of melodies ... and they were good—real good. We sat there for another two hours, talking, listening to Junior and his uncle play the ukulele and having a good time. Time and again, Junior thanked me for my service and reminded me how proud he was that his hometown was in the heart of Marine Corps territory, just outside Camp Pendleton. I tried to remind Junior that I was the one that was thankful for the evening. That I was amazed at how real of a person Junior Seau was and not just No. 55 on my television screen on Sunday afternoons. Junior Seau was a man of smiles, laughter, family, respect and he loved his country. It's troubling to hear of the passing of another great NFL football player at an age so young. But I'm especially sad to hear that it was Junior Seau who had passed. A man who for one evening last year I had the opportunity to meet and come to admire. The day after I met Junior last year, I began to follow his non-football charity exploits and grew to respect him even further. I hope this story will aid in an attempt to remember not only a linebacker but a fun, loving person as well.".
People in this photo:
Jan 19, 1969 - May 2, 2012
Added May 4, 2012 by: Michelle Cassidy
Michelle Cassidy
176 favorites
Donald Zangara played football for Ohio State for one year before transferring to Youngstown State. He supposedly thought that the OSU football players were jerks.
People in this photo:
Aug 12, 1926 - Unknown
A photo of Bill Walsh, head coach of the 49er's, and Joe Montana, quarterback of the 49ers, after the playoff game against the Vikings on January 4, 1989. On the road to winning the SuperBowl! Go Niners! Courtesy AP.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Jan 22, 2012 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
3.05k+ favorites
My dad,Charles "Bill" Yarnall #4, played semi-pro football for the Maroons from West Fairview, PA.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
This is a photo of Curran, C.U., 1920 added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
322 favorites
A photo of Ed Pugh - "Tech" 1920
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
322 favorites
A photo of Hap Ward, Georgetown football player, 1920.
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
322 favorites
This is a photo of Georgetown, Naval Academy game added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
322 favorites
This is a photo of Georgetown, Naval Academy game, 11/6/20 added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
322 favorites
This is a photo of Football group added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Navy football squad added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
A photo of George King Collyn
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
322 favorites
A photo of Buck Wise, on the 1919 Georgetown University football team.
People in this photo:
Unknown - Unknown
This is a photo of [Syracuse football player, full-length, standing, facing... added by Ancient Faces on January 10, 2012.
This is a photo of Princeton / H.G. Laskey. added by Ancient Faces on January 10, 2012.
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