4 Ways American Football Has Changed Throughout History

It’s been 53 years since the first ever Super Bowl, and in this review, we are counting the ways in which American Football has changed over the years. Football has steadily evolved since this first game was played, and even though things such as the forward pass were legalized in 1906, the ball was still a non-play until 1935.

The original ball used was actually round, sort of like a soccer ball, and it was very tough to carry around - even more awkward to throw. Little changed until the year 1912. This is the year that brought on a new set of rules. For one thing, the ball changed from the watermelon-shaped ball to the current oversized version that is still in use in today’s football games.


In 1928, 28 years after Heffelfinger became the first-ever professional football player, the American Professional Football Association (APFA) was formed. The Spalding J5-V was also named as the official ball of the entire league. The league was also renamed the NFL - National Football League - in 1922. Then, in the 1930s, the Spalding was renamed again to “The Duke”, which was a nickname for Wellington Mara, the owner of the New York Giants. So, other than all of that, here’s what has changed in American Football through History.

Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

The players have really bulked up.

The days when offensive linemen had to be over 250lb are long gone. Now, three hundred pound men are the norm. How this occurred overtime isn’t exactly clear, especially to the public, but most people suspect that it must have been as a result of many different factors, which include intense weight training and the use of dietary supplements.

In the Super Bowl, the average weight of the offensive linemen for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers is around 255.7 pounds, and during last year’s Super Bowl, the Giants and the Patriots had an average of 313.6 pounds.


Passing has also proliferated.

In the Super Bowl I, Bart Starr, who was the Quarterback for Green Bay, was named as the MVP after he completed 16-23 passes, and Len Dawson was his counterpart for the Kansas City Chiefs. He completed 16-24 passes. In total, there were around 50 total passes, compared to the previous year, which amounted to 81 passes.

Now, the adoption of the rules to open up the passes has played a major role in the latest changes. The trickle-down effect has been felt on all levels of the game, and the top-rated college quarterbacks do not require a break-in period in order to successfully make pro passing attacks.

The placekickers are now better than ever.

According to the Advanced NFL stats website, a study done by Brian Burke states that the field goal accuracy of the placekickers since 1974 has gone from 60.6% to an incredible 84.5%. This is despite how far the kicker is. This is a major evolutionary development that makes for better soccer-style kickers.


During the early days of the Super Bowl, of course, there were kickers who would kick the ball with their toes and not their insteps, and this caused them to be less accurate. Other things that have also contributed to this great accuracy are the consistent climate-controlled dome stadiums, the artificial-turf fields, and the hash marks. These were moved closer to the center of the field in 1972, and the NFL also eliminated the sharp-angled kicks.

Monday Night Football

For many years since the game started, the mantra used by the NFL was “any given Sunday…”. this meant that anything could happen, which meant many upsets. Pro football still remains a Sunday attraction, but ABC introduced the “Monday Night Football” telecast in 1970, which served to alter the landscape and enhance the enjoyment of the viewer in many different ways. Many players welcomed this addition, as it provided them with a prime-time showcase of each team. The entire league was watching.

Now, MNF has become a long-running prime-time network series show that has pushed the envelope of entertainment for the viewer, who is usually greatly engaged. The concept is of three men in a booth discussing different angles of the game. In the beginning, Don Meredith, Keith Jackson, and Howard Cosell would broadcast.

There are usually many cameras with different angles, and the features are usually enhanced by a slow-motion replay that also allows players to ham up and say “Hi, Mom”.

Image Source: en.wikipedia.org


Most of these changes really do not affect how the game is played, but they are out to heighten the fans' enjoyment through technology. Sportvision is actually a small company that introduced the amazing ESPN. This completely revolutionized the sporting world. The truth is that a lot has changed, and the above four changes make the game of American football much more fun.

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