15 Things You Didn’t Know About Football

American Football Field Two Teams Compete: Players Pass, Run, Attack to Score Touchdown Points. Rainy Night with Athletes Fight for the Ball in Dramatic Smoke.


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Washington Fullback A.D. Whitfield
Bettmann / Getty Images

Huddle Up

Don’t know a touchdown from a home run? Sure, a novice football fan might be more familiar with tailgate parties than team stats, but the game that dates back to the late 19th century — college play began in the 1860s — is filled with history, tradition and pop-culture influences, to be sure. Read on for a random sampling of some of football’s quirkier facts.


Related: The Greatest Football Movies of All Time

First U.S. Pro Game
George Rinhart / Getty

First U.S. Pro Game

The Pro Football Hall of Fame notes that Nov. 12, 1892 is a key date in the history of pro football. It turns out that when the Allegheny Athletic Association football team defeated the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, one of the AAA players was paid — making it the first professional contest. 

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The First Super Bowl
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The First Super Bowl

Even those who profess not to know a thing about the sport are familiar with the Super Bowl. The annual championship was first played in January of 1967 in Los Angeles, the AFL-NFL World Championship Game that would be retroactively called Super Bowl I. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs for that first title.  

Related: America's Biggest Sports Scandals

Washington Fullback A.D. Whitfield
Bettmann / Getty Images

Highest Scoring Game

Tight games with low scores signify a good game, right? Well, some pro football games had scores that would make modern-day fans shake their heads in disbelief. One example? Washington scored 72 points — to the Giants’ 41 — in November of 1966, in a matchup that marked the highest-combined point total in NFL history with 113.

Cleveland Browns
Brian Bahr / Getty

Winless Wonders

Some teams have a bad season. Some teams take that to a whole other level. Three teams in modern NFL history have gone the entire season without a win, the 2017 Cleveland Browns, the 2008 Detroit Lions, and the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a club no one wants to join. 

Empty Sports Stadium Due to Pandemic
Linda Hall/istockphoto

Most Successful High School Team

Sure, pro football gets a lot of attention, but college and prep teams are far from toiling in obscurity. When it comes to the high school level, an elite few teams have notched a place in “the 900 Win Club.” High School Football America reports that Valdosta High School in Georgia and Male High School in Kentucky are the top two teams in the country to have won so many games.  

Christian Petersen / Getty

Hardest Position

The quarterback may get all the glory — but according to How They Play, the cornerback is the hardest position in football. Cornerbacks tend to be among the smallest men on the field, if the most athletic, which is necessary as they need speed and agility to go up against the wide receivers, billed as the fastest players on the offense.

Michael Ditka
Focus On Sport / Getty

Hall of Fame Legacy

Players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are an elite group, recognized for outstanding careers. The Chicago Bears stand as the team with the most players in the Hall of Fame, with 37 inductees including such legends as Mike Ditka and Walter Payton.  

Allegiant Stadium Exterior, Home of the Las Vegas Raiders
Michael Valdez/istockphoto

Most Expensive Tickets

We’re not talking a few bucks at the gate here. The average ticket price for NFL games is said to be the most expensive ticket among all American sports. As reported by USA Today, this season’s list of top ticket prices — the average ticket price for the regular season — is led by the Las Vegas Raiders ($582), followed by the Kansas City Chiefs ($578) and then the Philadelphia Eagles ($559).  

Rose Bowl stadium sign in Pasadena, California

It’s All in the Bowl

College football and its championship “bowl” games are serious business — games that take over many a holiday celebration. The term bowl is said to have continued as a nod to Rose Bowl Stadium, the California site of the first post-season college football games. The Rose Bowl Stadium is said to have been created as a nod to the Yale Bowl, which would actually inspire the design of football stadiums around the country.     

Wayne Eastep / Getty

Not Every Team Has Cheerleaders

Football cheerleaders have a long tradition — and in more recent years, a polarizing effect on an audience. While the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders may be the most high profile with their worldwide appearances and reality TV shows, not every NFL team has a squad, and some seven have been reported to “go it alone,” including high-profile teams such as the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Los Angeles Rams
Owen C. Shaw / Getty

Beloved Mascots (and Not)

Team mascots are another way for a team to engage with its audience. In a survey of NFL fans by WegENT, the Los Angeles Rams’ Rampage was voted the best, while K.C. Wolf of the Kansas City Chiefs was the least liked. All we know is we love when ESPN features any mascot in a commercial.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs
Focus On Sport / Getty

Longest Game In NFL History

Those attending a football game know they’ll be there for awhile, as the intricate contest is played out over four quarters that add up to 60 minutes of play. Add in time outs, halftime, etc., and the games can last several hours. The longest game on record, though, was on Christmas Day 1971 when the Miami Dolphins played the Kansas City Chiefs. A 24-24 tie at the end of regulation would play out over double overtime, with Miami winning 27-24 after nearly 83 minutes of play. 

Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, USA

Hall of Fame Attractions

Fans can visit their own football mecca in Canton, Ohio, where the Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomes visitors year-round. Interactive exhibitions, special events, ceremonies and more make the site that opened in 1963 a true destination.

Appetizing cheeseburger on wooden table.

Most Popular Stadium Foods

Used to be a warm beer and cold hot dog meant a stadium “dining” experience. Today, food and drink at NFL games is serious business. Some foods represent local favorites, some tap into national trends and others are simply designed to impress — or challenge the eater. Over-the-top burgers, breakfast sandwiches, brats and pierogi dishes, fried specialties and more are routinely on offer.

Related: Craziest Foods Worth Trying at Stadiums Across the U.S.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Greg Doherty/Stringer/Getty

Post-Play Careers

Football is so ingrained in the American experience that players often leave the game with a well-developed connection to potential new audiences. That has led to many a former player, from pro to college, becoming a corporate spokesperson, a TV commentator, a coach — and, in many a case, an actor. Among those hitting the big screen after their gridiron days are Burt Reynolds, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Terry Bradshaw, Carl Weathers, Alex Karras, and Bubba Smith.