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American Football

One of America's favorite pastimes, football, sure has changed over the years . . . Read more >>

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. << Read less
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.
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Francis Newton "Frank" Gifford
Aug 16, 1930 - Aug 9, 2015
A photo of Steve Banois, all-American football center, Detroit, Michigan
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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.
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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
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
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A photo of Mike Webster
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Mike Webster
Mar 18, 1952 - Sep 24, 2002
A photo of Mike Webster
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Mike Webster
Mar 18, 1952 - Sep 24, 2002
A photo of James Francis Thorpe on the Canton Bulldogs football team, circa 1915
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Jim Thorpe
May 22, 1887 - Mar 28, 1953
A photo of Clarendon Petty
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Clarendon Petty
Jan 2, 1909 - April 1986
Kewanee, IL
A photo of Don Heinrich
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Don Heinrich
Sep 19, 1930 - Feb 29, 1992
A photo of Don Heinrich
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Don Heinrich
Sep 19, 1930 - Feb 29, 1992
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.
A photo of Charles Edward Kennedy Sr. - Margaret Elaine Rhoades Husband
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A photo of the 1928 Algoma Wisconsin football team
A photo of Horace Lucas and his high school football team in John Day, Grant, Oregon in the 1920s.
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A photo of a Wilson or Dowling boy in football gear, California
A photo of George Tyler Howe
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George Tyler Howe
Dec 23, 1890 - Jun 19, 1959
A photo of Harry W Massey while at Florida State University
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Harry W Massey
Mar 7, 1932 - Mar 17, 2002
West Palm Beach, FL
A photo of Kevin Joseph Ellenz
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Kevin Joseph Ellenz
Sep 12, 1959 - Jul 12, 1979
My dad in his Holyrood, KS football uniform.
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A photo of Raymond Wilfenger, 1936 - 1982.
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Raymond Wilfenger
May 13, 1936 - Apr 8, 1982
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.
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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.
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James "Jarin Jimmy" Moore
Born: Apr 4, 1935
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.
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Nicholas Pierce Kirwan
Apr 17, 1903 - Jan 30, 1992
Santa Barbara, CA
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.".
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Tiaina Baul Seau, Jr.
Jan 19, 1969 - May 2, 2012
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.
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Donald "Don" Zangara
Born: Aug 12, 1926
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.
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My dad,Charles "Bill" Yarnall #4, played semi-pro football for the Maroons from West Fairview, PA.
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This is a photo of Curran, C.U., 1920 added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Georgetown, Naval Academy game added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Georgetown, Naval Academy game, 11/6/20 added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
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 Buck Wise, on the 1919 Georgetown University football team.
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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.
This image, entitle "After the game" shows the large crowd who viewed the famous clash between the Harvard and Yale football teams. Notice how well dressed all of the fans are! The Yale and Harvard football teams have gone head-to-head annually since their first game on November 13th, 1875. This photo was between the two Yale and Harvard teams at Harvard Stadium in Allston Massachusetts in 1911.
This is a photo of Notre Dame football squad, 1914 added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
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