Football Firsts

History Published on : 1/1/2005

Firsts in Radio, TV in Pro Football 
Super Bowl Firsts/ American Football League Firsts


Heffelfinger scored the only TD (then worth 4 pts) in pro football's first game.

First Pro    
November 12, 1892 – William "Pudge" Heffelfinger is paid $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association.

First Night Game
November 21, 1902 – The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Kanaweola A.C. at Elmira, New York, on a lighted field.

First Indoor Game
December 28, 1902 – The Syracuse A.C. defeated New York 5-0 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

First African-American
1904 – Halfback Charles Follis reportedly signed a contract to play with the Shelby Athletic Club.

First Season a Touchdown was Worth Six Points
1912 – From 1892 to 1898, a TD was worth four points. From 1898 to 1911, it was worth five points.

First Professional Football League Formed
September 17, 1920 – the American Professional Football Association, renamed the National Football League in 1922, was formed in Canton, Ohio.

First League President
1920 – The legendary Jim Thorpe was named the president of the NFL, then known as the APFA.

First Game Featuring an NFL Team
September 26, 1920- The first game featuring an APFA team was played at Rock Island's Douglas Park. A crowd of 800 watched the Independents defeat the St. Paul Ideals 48-0.

First NFL Game
October 3, 1920– Dayton Triangles 14, Columbus Panhandles 0; Rock Island Independents 45, Muncie Flyers 0.

First NFL Champions
1920 – Akron Pros

The Canton Bulldogs hold the NFL record for most games (25) without a loss, 1921-23. 

First Two-Time NFL Champions  
1922-1923 – Canton Bulldogs

First NFL Team to Train Out of Town
1926- New York Giants at Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania

First NFL Team to Host a Night Game
November 6, 1929– Providence Steam Roller lost to the Chicago Cardinals, 16-0.

First NFL Indoor Game
December 17, 1930– The Chicago Bears defeated the Chicago Cardinals in an exhibition game in Chicago Stadium.

First NFL Rule Book
February 25, 1933– The NFL discontinued the use of the Collegiate Rules Book and began to develop its own rules. Many of the rule changes were the results of the 1932 NFL playoff game played indoors in Chicago.

First College All-Star Game
August 31, 1934– NFL Champion Chicago Bears and the College All-Stars played to 0-0 tie. 


Beattie Feathers, a rookie with the Bears in 1934,
became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

First NFL Player to Rush for 1,000 Yards
1934– Beattie Feathers of the Chicago Bears gained 1,004 yards.     

First Player Picked in the First NFL Draft
February 8, 1936– Jay Berwanger, University of Chicago Heisman Trophy winner, was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles.

First Pro Bowl
January 15, 1939– the New York Giants defeated the Pro All-Stars, 13-10, at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, California.

First Divisional Playoff Game
December 14, 1941 – The Chicago Bears defeated the Green Bay Packers, 33-14, in the NFL Western Division championship playoff game.

First Adoption of Free Substitution Rule
1943– First adopted because of war-time manpower emergency. Rule was rescinded in 1946 but adopted on a permanent basis in 1950.

First "Triple Crown" Winner
1943– Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins led the NFL in passing, punting, and interceptions.

First Use of a Penalty Flag by NFL Officials

First International Game by NFL Team
August 12, 1950– The New York Giants defeated the CFL's Ottawa Roughriders, 20-6, in a game played in Ottawa.

First to Rush for 1,000 Yards in Consecutive Seasons
1953-1954– Hall of Famer Joe Perry of the San Francisco 49ers

First Overtime Game
August 28, 1955– The Los Angeles Rams defeated the New York Giants, 23-17, in a preseason game played in Portland, Oregon.

First Overtime Championship Game
December 28, 1958 - In what is referred to as the "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23-17, in the 1958 NFL Championship Game.

First Visitor to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
September 7, 1963– Canton, Ohio

First Soccer-Style Placekicker
1964– Pete Gogolak, Buffalo Bills

First U.S. President to Attend NFL Game While in Office
August 3, 1966– Lyndon Johnson at D.C. Stadium for pre-season game. 

Namath, pro football's first 4,000-yard passer.

First Quarterback to Pass for 4,000 Yards
1967– Joe Namath of the New York Jets totals 4,007 yards through the air.

First Perfect Season by NFL Team
1972– The Miami Dolphins post a 17-0-0 record culminated with a win in Super Bowl VII.

First Player to Rush for 2,000 Yards in a Season
1973O.J. Simpson of the Buffalo Bills ran for 2,003 yards. ( - Game-by-Game log)

First Use of Wireless Microphones by Referees

First Use of 30-Second Clock Between Plays

First NFL Game Outside of North America
August 16, 1976– The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20-10, in a pre-season game played in Tokyo, Japan.

First Pro Bowl Game in Non-NFL City
January 27, 1980– The NFL's All-Star Game is played in Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time.

First NFL Game in Europe
August 6, 1983– The Minnesota Vikings defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 28-10, at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

First Use of Instant Replay on a Regular Basis

First American Bowl Game
August 3, 1986 – The Chicago Bears defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 17-6, in Wembly Stadium in London. 

First Regular Season Game Outside the United States
October 2, 2005 – The Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-14, at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

First Regular Season Game Outside of North America 
October 28, 2007 – The New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins, 13-10, at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

First 11-10 Score in NFL History
November 16, 2008 – The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field. The odd score was the first such score in 12,837 NFL games.

First 800-point Weekend in NFL History
Nov. 2008 – A total of 837 points were scored during Week 12 of the 2008 NFL Season (Nov. 20, 23-34). The 16 games averaged 52.3 points.

First Quarterback-Playing Brothers Voted to the Same All-Star Game
2008 – Peyton Manning (Colts) and Eli Manning (Giants) were both named to the 2009 Pro Bowl following the '08 regular season.


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Firsts in Radio, TV in Pro Football

November 29, 1934 – First national radio broadcast of an NFL game. Graham McNamee was the play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears Thanksgiving Day game.

October 22, 1939 – First telecast of an NFL game.  NBC broadcast the Philadelphia Eagles-Brooklyn Dodgers game from Ebbets Field.

December 8, 1940– First radio network coverage of an NFL championship game. Mutual Radio Network broadcast the Chicago Bears' 73-0 victory over the Washington Redskins.

1950 NFL Season– The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to televise all of its games – home and away.

December 23, 1951– First coast-to-coast telecast of NFL Championship game by the Dumont Network.

1956– CBS became the first network to televise some NFL games to selected television markets across the nation.

Nov. 22, 1956 First Thanksgiving Day game televised nationally. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions, 24-20, on a late touchdown pass by QB Tobin Rote.

1960– ABC became the first network to sign a television contract with the American Football League.

1962– The NFL, for the fist time, entered into a single-network agreement with CBS for televising all regular season games.

1970– The first game of ABC's Monday Night Football series was played between the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Super Bowl Firsts

January 15, 1967– The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in the first Super Bowl. Played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, it was the only Super Bowl not to sell-out.

January 12, 1969– The title 'Super Bowl' was officially recognized for the first time. Previously, it had been called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

January 12, 1969– The New York Jets became the first AFL team to win a Super Bowl when they upset the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III.

January 18, 1976– The Dallas Cowboys became the first wildcard team in the Super Bowl. They lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-17, in Super Bowl X.

January 15, 1978– The Super Bowl was played indoors for the first time. The Dallas cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XIII played in the Louisiana Superdome.

January 25, 1981– The Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV to become the first wildcard team to win a Super Bowl.

January 24, 1982– The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in the first Super Bowl (XVI) played north of the Mason-Dixon (Pontiac, Michigan).

February 3, 2002– Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to give his team a 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. It marked the first Super Bowl ever won on the final play of the game.

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American Football League Firsts

August 15, 1959– The new American Football League had its first meeting.

November 30, 1959– Joe Foss was named the first commissioner of the AFL. 

The Patriots downed the Bills, 28-7, at Buffalo in the AFL's first-ever game.

July 30, 1960– The Boston Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills in the first AFL pre-season game.

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.

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 beat an NFL team when they defeated the Detroit Lions, 13-7, in the first of 16 AFL-NFL preseason games that year.


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