NFL 100 celebration: Key dates in NFL history


Michael Pallas | September 7th, 2019

The National Football League kicked off its 100th season last night. However, there were some key times that could’ve and did change the league forever. Here is a look back at the history of the league that we now know and love.

September 17, 1920:

Prior to the existence of the NFL professional football did exist in the US. However, it was more regional and teams didn’t play outside of their regions often. When teams from Ohio, Illinois, New York, and Indiana met for the second time in 1920, the American Professional Football Association was born, and it was just the beginning.


February 25, 1933:

Imagine how different the game would be today if quarterbacks had to be a minimum of five yards behind the line of scrimmage to attempt a pass. Well, for the first 13 years of the league they had to be until the NFL made it legal to attempt a pass anywhere behind the LOS.

1933 season:

After a successful postseason game in 1932, the NFL split into two divisions in 1933. For the first time, they crowned a division champion in each division and the two champions played in the first-ever NFL Championship Game.


1936 season:

Prior to the 1936 season, there wasn’t a standard NFL schedule. Teams would play non-league games, and some would count and some wouldn’t. In 1936, every team played 12 games, and from then on there was a regular number of games every regular season.

February 2, 1959:

In the midst of one of the worst stretched in franchise history, the Green Bay Packers hired Vince Lombardi. Lombardi joined the Pakcers amid a ticket crisis: a time when fans were not attending games — so much so the NFL considered moving the team. Halfway through that season, the Packers proved worthy to the fans to return to the games, and they have sold out every game since, and the Packers went on to win five championships.

January 12, 1969:

The American Football League had gotten dominated by the Packers in the first two AFL-NFL Championship Games, and even though there was a merger deal in place, people wondered about the viability of the AFL.

Then while being pestered by the media, Joe Namath guaranteed a New York Jets victory in the first game given the official name of Super Bowl, even though it would later be called Super Bowl III. The Jets would walk out of the Orange Bowl with a 16-7 victory that proved them to be true world champions and erased all doubt of the viability of the AFL.


May 7, 1999:

This is a date which will live in football infamy. On this date, New York Jets owner Leon Hess passed away, and it led to the next step.

January 4, 2000:

Amid ownership turmoil, Bill Belichick resigned as the head coach of the New York Jets. He cited not understanding the ownership situation, and who can blame him for that.

January 27, 2000:

After “resigning as HC of the NYJ,” Belichick ended up in New England, and it was just the beginning of the reign at the top of the NFL.

January 19, 2002:

When we look back at this, we should’ve realized then that Belichick was a genius. He understood things that many coaches didn’t even think of. When Tom Brady dropped back to pass in the snow and tucked began to tuck the ball away, he lost the football. Belichick’s mind immediately went to NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2: When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body — the infamous “Tuck Rule.” It was a stupid rule that helped lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title, but the application of the rule was correct.

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