A Centennial Celebration: Looking Back

One hundred years of history is nothing to shrug at and yet, what do we get as the NFL launches their 100th year of existence but helmet controversies and publicity stunts that involve designer watches.  All the world is, in fact, a stage.

Fans of the sport won’t be deterred, however, as countless people have taken to the blogosphere with nostalgic hearts and a mind to celebrate.

Together, with the not-so-huddled masses, we join you by looking at 10 of the biggest and most important changes that have taken place for the NFL in the last 100 years.

With 100 years of history so much didn’t make this initial cut and so here are some honorable mentions as we, the fans, continue to raise our foam fingers in the hopes of more good things to come.

1921 – The NFL gets its first black head coach with Fritz Pollard taking the clipboard with the Akron Pros.

Apr 23, 1927 – The NFL goes urban eliminating all but its most economically stable teams. The cuts brought the number of franchises from 22 to 12, and permanently moved the league’s center of gravity to large eastern cities.

1939 – NBC produces a local broadcast of a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Eagles for the first time in NFL history.

1943 – World War II takes its toll on the league but bring together Pennsylvania rivals who, unable to field a complete team, temporarily join forces to play one season as the Phil-Pitt Steagles.

1948 – Branding is born as The Los Angeles Rams become the first NFL team to wear a helmet with a painted logo on rams’ horns on their leather hats.  Perhaps this is the catalyst for the helmet change, according to research done by Betway, from leather to polymer only 2 years later.

Dec 28, 1958 – The Baltimore Colts defeat the New York Giants 23–17 in overtime to win the NFL Championship in the so-called “Greatest Game Ever Played.”

Jan 26, 1960 – The NFL’s owners elect Rams executive Pete Rozelle to serve as NFL Commissioner, which only took 23 rounds of voting. Rozelle will hold the post for 29 years.

1961 – New York, New York.  Rozelle makes a bold decision and moves the league’s corporate offices from a small Philadelphia suburb to New York’s Rockefeller Center.

1962 – The first Black player on the last all-white team in the NFL, receiver Bobby Mitchell, signs with the Washington Redskins and the league’s segregationist era is over.

1965 – Take me out to the ball game changes its majority meaning.  For the first time, more people polled in a national survey choose pro football than baseball as their favorite sport.

Sep 22, 1987 – The NFL Players Association goes out on a strike that lasts nearly one month.  Replacement players are controversially brought in for a three week stint that ultimately broke the will of the Players Association until 1993.

Of course, there is more history to celebrate, reflect on and allow to inform the future but, for now, this author just wants a piece of that centennial cake.