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The National Football League has come a long way since its humble beginnings when it was founded in an auto showroom in Canton, Ohio on September 17, 1920. Today, by almost any measure, the NFL is America's most popular sport!

William Heffelfinger, the first professional football player 
This Week in Pro Football History
Join the Hall of Fame as we take a weekly look back at the sport's amazing history. Reflect back on games and events from the past to learn more about how pro football used to be played.

In November, the Hall remembered the first professional football player: William "Pudge" Heffelfinger. Heffelfinger openly accepted $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association on Nov. 12, 1892. It paid off, too, as Allegheny "thumped" the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 4-0!

A lot has changed since then…namely touchdowns counting for 6 points. Catch up with similar history each week in this special Hall of Fame feature.

HOW THEY WERE NAMED: The origins of NFL franchise nicknames
Every professional football team has its own unique history; so, too, does each have its own story on how it was named.

Why do they call the Packers the Packers? And whose idea was it to name Chicago's team the Bears? Why? Get all the interesting tidbits behind the 31 franchise nicknames … and be sure to click on the team logos for the history of each team.

Decade by Decade
Each of the NFL's eight decades feature many unique milestones, interesting stories and treasured memories. Check out the highlighted story from each decade below, then link to the other pieces within each grouping. Be sure to come back -- this section is updated regularly.

Green Bay Packers great Don Hutson 1920s: The Providence Steam Roller

The Steam Roller took home the NFL title in 1928, the last team not still active in the NFL to claim a championship. They also set numerous other league "firsts" …
1930s: Davey O'Brien

At just 5'7" and 151 pounds, Heisman Trophy-winner Davey O'Brien was the "original Doug Flutie." The Texas Christian University star played for two years with the Philadelphia Eagles.
1940s: The Amazing Don Hutson

With 99 career touchdown receptions, Don Hutson stamped himself as the NFL's first superstar pass-catcher. The Green Bay hero caught 488 passes in a brilliant career.
From Green Bay's Don Hutson, the NFL's first "super end" and a two-time MVP, to John Elway, shown below during "The Drive" game, pro football history is filled with fascinating players. 1950s: The Birth of Overtime

The first overtime game was the 1958 title contest between New York and Baltimore, right? Actually, it was in a lonely preseason game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Giants three years earlier …
John Elway avoids Cleveland's Reggie Camp on Jan. 11, 1987 1960s: Tarkenton's Debut

Fran Tarkenton made his Minnesota Vikings' and NFL debut against George Halas and the Chicago Bears in 1961. A daunting task, and an incredible result.
1970s: Miami's Perfect Season

There were other undefeated teams in NFL annals, but only the '72 Dolphins followed a perfect regular season with a victory in the Super Bowl.
1980s: "The Drive"

Fifteen plays in the bitter cold of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium in January 1987 turned John Elway into an NFL icon.
1990s: Terrell Davis Runs Wild

Denver's Terrell Davis reaches the 1000-yard barrier in just seven games in 1998. Not bad for a sixth-round draft pick.  

More Pro Football History
How many sets of brothers have played in professional football? Or how about fathers and sons? You can get all the answers inside.


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