The Original Eight | AFL Firsts | The Champions | Statistical Leaders | All-Time Team | Photo Galleries


On August 14, 1959, at the call of Dallas businessman Lamar Hunt, a new professional football league to be called the American Football League was organized to begin play in 1960. Charter memberships were issued to Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York. Buffalo and Boston were admitted later that year. Early in 1960, Minneapolis defected to the National Football League and Oakland was picked as a replacement city. The whole idea seemed so far-fetched, even after AFL teams started playing, that the eight team owners became known as the "Foolish Club."

At 9:00 a.m. on August 14, 1959, a group of visionary men that included Hall of Famer Lamar Hunt and Tennessee Titans Bud Adams met in the South Imperial Suite of The Conrad Hilton in Chicago, Illinois to form the American Football League. View the meeting minutes that are part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s collection. PDF (800 KB)>>>


Almost every element that makes pro football the world's most popular sport that it is today can be traced to the American Football League and the huge changes its presence eventually brought to the sport. By the time the fierce AFL-NFL war of the 1960s was over, the expanded National Football League of the 1970s stretched from coast-to-coast and from border to border. Fans poured into NFL stadiums in record numbers. Rapidly increasing television coverage introduced pro football to hundreds of millions of new fans on every continent.

The Super Bowl was destined to become the most watched sports spectacle in the history of the world. The AFL was viewed by the masses as a "David" matched against an unbeatable "Goliath" for almost half of its 10-year history. But when the "rags-to-riches" story was concluded, the AFL had achieved what no other NFL challenger had ever accomplished - equality in a new and exciting pro football world.  


The Original Eight


Eight teams were part of the AFL in its inaugural 1960 season. Five of the eight clubs either changed nicknames or cities or both, but all are in existence in the NFL today. Click on the logo for a team history.

 AFL Parity: Win-loss records of AFL teams>>>


Los Angeles
New York

Some AFL Firsts


November 22, 1959 - Not long after the American Football League was founded, the first AFL draft occurred. Details>>>

July 30, 1960 - The Boston Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills in the first AFL pre-season game. LEGACY GAME FLASHBACK>>>

September 9, 1960 - The Denver Broncos defeated the Boston Patriots in the first AFL regular-season game.

January 1, 1961 - The Houston Oilers won the first AFL championship by defeating the Los Angeles Chargers. Details>>>

January 14, 1961 - End Willard Dewveall of the Chicago Bears played out his option and joined the Houston Oilers, thus becoming the first NFL player to defect to the AFL.

June 8, 1966 - The AFL and NFL announced a merger. Thus, the AFL became the first to successfully challenge the NFL in that league's history.

August 5, 1967 - The Denver Broncos became the first AFL team to defeat an NFL team when they defeated the Detroit Lions in the first of 16 AFL-NFL pre-season games that year. 

The Champions

Many memorable moments in AFL history came during the annual championship game. Here is a year-by-year rundown to the AFL title games. Summaries>>>

AFL Stats, Stories, and more...

When the record book was closed on the AFL following the 1969 season, some of the names atop the lists included Jack Kemp, Clem Daniels, and Lance Alworth among others.

 AFL stat leaders>>>

AFL's success tied to "pass happy" label.  Story>>>

 AFL's underestimated defense>>>

 Room to Run - Despite a reputation of the pass, the AFL featured more 1,000-yd rushers than the NFL in the '60s. Story>>>

 Stadiums of the AFL - In all, 21 different venues were used by the AFL teams during the 10-year history of the league. Story>>>

  The AFL "Originals" - A small group of 19 players, affectionately known as “The Originals,” were there every step of the way to experience the league’s growth first-hand. Story>>>

The AFL's first expansion - The American Football League’s success was evident when the league was able to expand in 1966 with the addition of the Miami Dolphins. See the latest AFL piece as we celebrate the league’s 50th Anniversary Season. Story>>>


AFL's All-Time Team

In January 1970, in the week following the AFL’s last championship game, the list of the AFL’s All-Time Team was released. The honorary team was picked by the AFL members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors.

OFFENSE (including punter and kicker)

DEFENSE (and head coach)



Photo Galleries

See images from the AFL years pulled from the Hall's vast collection.