Walter Camp is the man who receives the most credit for inventing football. He gets the credit for making the foundational changes that result in today’s modern football games. Even though the changes he made were only applied to college football during his time, the rules he created would lay the foundation for the national football league.
So, when was American Football invented? Who was Walter Camp and what teams did he coach? What was the first football team? When did the NFL begin, and why did the AFL merge into them? What is the oldest NFL team, and what is the oldest NFL stadium?
Below we will discuss the history of football and how it came to be what it is today.
When was American Football Invented?
There was no effective date when football was invented. Up until the 19th century, football was more or less two teams who would be on a single field and fight over a ball. There were very few rules associated with the game. As a result, it gained the name mob football.
The first game with any cohesion that became known as the first American football game was between college players from Rutgers and Princeton playing in New Jersey in 1869. The match was more of a merge between soccer and rugby football rules. However, this game still receives credit as the first official American Football game by many historians.
Who is the Father of American Football?
Walter Camp acquired the name “Father of American Football.” Born in Connecticut, Camp went to grammar school in New Haven before making his way to Yale University. There, he joined the football team after attending a meeting between Yale, Rutger, Princeton, and Columbia schools, who created the intercollegiate football association with their own rules.
While still a player for Yale, Walter Camp helped the intercollegiate football association create a set of rules that took the game from a rugby-style game to more of us today. The rules he was responsible for included:
- The creation of the line of scrimmage.
- The system of downs during a football match.
- Reducing the number of football players on the field.
- Creating the seven-man line
- Creating the four-person backfield with the QB, two halfbacks, and fullback
- The legalization of the forward pass from the quarterback.
- Blocking and the scoring system gave five points to the field goal.
- Four points for the touchdown.
Walter Camp, the Coach
Walter became the coach of Yale University football in 1888. As a coach, he highly emphasized exercise amongst his players. After that stint at Yale, he went to Stamford in 1892 and 1894-95 as a coach. His overall career as a coach came out to 79 wins, five losses, and three ties.
What Was the First American Football Team?
While Rutgers and Princeton get the credit for playing the first American football game, the game was closely related to rugby and soccer. Therefore, while the game was still a football game, the product on the field wasn’t what you would find when watching a game on TV today.
Harvard and Tuft’s university were the first teams to play football closely related to the modern game in 1875, effectively making them the first traditional football teams.
When Did the NFL Begin?
The NFL was created in 1920 under the American Professional Football Association(APFA) in Canton, Ohio. At that time, fourteen teams from four states banded together to form a league instead of participating in separate regional leagues, which was customary. After a couple of years as the APFA, the league adopted National Football League (NFL) in 1922.
Initially, its popularity was not that high in comparison to college football. Along with that, the AFL began in 1960, directly competing against the NFL in numerous ways. To help the NFL compete against college football and the AFL, a merger between the AFL and NFL would take place to make one unit.
When Did the NFL and AFL Merge?
The AFL(American Football league) was the NFL’s main competitor throughout the mid-20th century, but eventually, the two leagues merged in 1970.
One of the reasons for the merger was to stop the two leagues from competing for college player talent each year. Instead of two different leagues college football players could go to; there would only be one moving forward.
The second reason for the merger was to control costs. Most notably, the New York Jets of the AFL signed Joe Namath for over $400k in 1964, which was astronomical at that time. Players in football were making around $10k a year, so the league competition was unstable. By combining the leagues, you effectively removed that level of competition via bidding on players.
What is the Oldest NFL Team?
The oldest NFL teams are the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears, the only remaining teams from the original ten who joined the NFL in 1920. Initially, the Arizona Cardinals were the Chicago Cardinals, and the Chicago Bears were the Decatur Staleys before finding their home in their current locations.
What is the Oldest NFL Stadium?
Soldier Field, currently home to the Chicago Bears, is the oldest NFL stadium, built in 1924. However, Lambeau Field is the oldest stadium that has been used the longest by one single team, the Green Bay Packers.
Conclusion: Who Invented American Football
The history of American football begins with the game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869. The game we all know today began in 1880 when Walter Camp laid the groundwork for what we watch every Sunday on television. Without his rules changes, the game of football and potentially the landscape of American sports would look entirely different.
The game Walter helped develop led other areas to adopt the model and eventually created the national football league, which became the most popular sport in America after a few decades of relative success. Football development also coincided with football expansion in Canada, whose history follows a similar path to football in America.
With the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, and Soldier Field still in operations, the historical routes of the NFL are still around us. Gridiron football as we know it today has been through a long journey, but it has now become the main attraction in America and slowly migrating globally. Walter Camp may have had high hopes when he initially crafted the rules of football, but he may never have guessed the game would have become would it has today.
What is a Coin Toss in Football?
How Does Overtime Work in College Football?
2 Point Conversion in Football
How Much Do College Football Coaches Make?
What is the Heisman Trophy in College Football?
What Does the SEC Mean in College Football?
What is a Wide Receiver in Football?
How Many Players are on a Football Team?