Browse photos

See all photos

People

Subjects

Holidays & Special Events

Historic Events

Military

Wars & Conflicts

Year

Photograph Types

Places

American Football

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

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.

Select a Tag
Taken in New York, NY in .
A photo of Frank Gifford when he was playing for the New York Giants (when... more
People in this photo:
Shared on Aug 10, 2015 by
Taken in .
A photo of the Mohawk football team, circa 1919
Shared on Jan 11, 2012 by
Taken in .
A photo of Steve Banois, all-American football center, Detroit, Michigan
People in this photo:
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
A photo of the football team of Drake University of Des Moines at the White... more
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
The padding doesn't seem to protect these young children enough.
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
A photo of football captain Edward Mahon of the Howard team.
People in this photo:
Shared on Jan 8, 2012 by
Taken in .
A photo of young football fans, unable to finance a ticket to the Woodrow... more
Shared on Jan 6, 2012 by
Taken in .
A photo of schoolboys at Concho, Arizona playing football.
Shared on Jan 5, 2012 by
Taken in .
Jets vs Raiders, 1968 - the last two minutes of the game, in which the... more
Shared on Jan 17 by
A photo of Charles Edward Kennedy Sr. - Margaret Elaine Rhoades Husband
People in this photo:
Shared on Jan 2 by
Taken at Perry Park, Algoma, Kewaunee County, WI in .
A photo of the 1928 Algoma Wisconsin football team
Shared on Jun 5, 2016 by
Taken in John Day, Grant County, OR in .
A photo of Horace Lucas and his high school football team in John Day, Grant,... more
People in this photo:
Shared on Jan 19, 2016 by
A photo of a Wilson or Dowling boy in football gear, California
Shared on May 30, 2015 by
Taken at U.S. Naval Academy, in .
A photo of George Tyler Howe
People in this photo:
Shared on Oct 4, 2014 by
Taken at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL in .
A photo of Harry W Massey while at Florida State University
People in this photo:
Shared on Sep 25, 2014 by
Taken in Holyrood, Ellsworth County, KS .
My dad in his Holyrood, KS football uniform.
People in this photo:
Shared on Sep 15, 2013 by
A photo of Raymond Wilfenger, 1936 - 1982.
People in this photo:
Shared on Mar 10, 2013 by
Taken in United States of America .
Byron Bailey with his daughter Laura Bailey. By played football for... more
Shared on Dec 15, 2012 by
Taken at Flint Dye High School, Flint, Genessee County, MI United States of America in .
My Father, James Richard Moore (Jarin Jimmy Moore) #43 of The Flint Dye High... more
People in this photo:
Shared on Nov 28, 2012 by
Taken at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, CA USA .
Nicholas Pierce Kirwan, aka "Nick" Kirwan attended Stanford University in... more
People in this photo:
Shared on Jul 10, 2012 by
Taken in Oceanside, CA USA on .
My friend Bubba (Albert Flores, Jr.) recounted his encounter with Junior... more
Shared on May 4, 2012 by
Taken at A Youngstown State University practice field, Youngstown, Mahoning County, OH USA .
Donald Zangara played football for Ohio State for one year before... more
People in this photo:
Shared on Apr 3, 2012 by
Taken at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA USA on .
A photo of Bill Walsh, head coach of the 49er's, and Joe Montana, quarterback... more
People in this photo:
Shared on Jan 22, 2012 by