What is the definition of NFL in American Football?

The National Football League (NFL) is the premier professional American football league, encompassing 32 teams divided equally between the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The NFL’s legacy dates back to its founding in 1920, in Canton, Ohio, as the American Professional Football Association, with its first president being the renowned athlete, Jim Thorpe. The present name, NFL, was adopted in 1922, and since then, the league has grown to become one of the most popular and watched sports organizations in the world.

Throughout its rich history, the NFL has shaped the landscape of American sports and culture, drawing in millions of fans each year. The league’s structure includes a 16-game regular season followed by a postseason playoff schedule to determine the ultimate champion. Signature NFL events, such as the Super Bowl and annual drafts, contribute to the excitement and anticipation that surrounds each season. The NFL’s economic impact on the United States, as well as its influence on society more broadly, has been immense.

Key Takeaways

  • The NFL is a professional American football league with 32 teams divided into the AFC and NFC
  • Established in 1920, the NFL has grown to become an integral part of American sports culture
  • League structure, iconic events, and economic impact are some aspects that contribute to the NFL’s significance

History of the NFL

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football organization that has its roots in Ohio. It was initially established in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). During this time, the league consisted of ten teams from four different states, all of which participated in regional leagues within their territories. The NFL adopted its current name in 1922 and has grown significantly since.

From its inception, the NFL underwent changes in how it determined its champions. Initially, the league relied on end-of-season standings to declare a winner. However, in 1933, the organization implemented a playoff system that culminated with the NFL Championship Game. This new format was used until 1966.

The NFL experienced a period of stability through the 1970s and 1980s, following the AFL-NFL merger. This union marked a significant milestone in American football history and helped to solidify the sport’s dominance in the national consciousness. In 1976, the league expanded by adding two new teams — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.

Today, the NFL consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The league’s annual season concludes with the Super Bowl, a highly anticipated event that draws millions of viewers and showcases the best that professional football has to offer.

League Structure


The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams. These teams are spread across the United States, representing cities large and small. Over the years, the league has grown tremendously and is now one of America’s most popular sports leagues.


The 32 teams in the NFL are divided evenly into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). Each conference consists of 16 teams and is responsible for its own championship and playoff structure, culminating in the Super Bowl, where the champions of the NFC and AFC face off for the ultimate title.


Within each conference, the 16 teams are further divided into four divisions: North, South, East, and West. Each division has four teams, which compete against each other during the regular season. In addition to playing division rivals, teams also play against teams from other divisions and conferences according to a schedule rotation, which ensures that teams from different parts of the country have the opportunity to face one another. This divisional structure fosters intense rivalries and high-stakes games throughout the season.

Seasons and Schedules

Regular Season

The NFL (National Football League) regular season in American Football starts on the weekend following the first Monday of September, which is Labor Day in the United States. The first game, usually held on a Thursday night, is played by the defending Super Bowl champions at their home stadium. The remainder of the games occurs on Sundays, with one scheduled for Monday night each week. The regular season runs until early January, with a total of 18 weeks and 272 games.

Each team in the league plays 17 games during the regular season. They face a mix of divisional, conference, and interconference opponents. The schedule ensures that every team plays against each other at least once every four years.


Following the regular season, the NFL playoffs commence. This is a single-elimination tournament that determines the league champion and ultimately, the winner of the Super Bowl. A total of 14 teams qualify for the playoffs, with the top seven teams from each conference (AFC and NFC) participating.

The playoffs consist of four rounds:

  1. Wild Card Round: Consisting of six games, with the top two seeds in each conference receiving a bye week.
  2. Divisional Round: Features the winners of the Wild Card Round matchups and the top two seeded teams from each conference.
  3. Conference Championships: The winners from the Divisional Round compete to determine the champion of their respective conferences (AFC and NFC).
  4. Super Bowl: The AFC and NFC Conference Champions face off in the final game to decide the overall NFL champion.

Each round of the playoffs progressively narrows down the competition until the ultimate winner is crowned at the Super Bowl. The winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named in honor of legendary head coach, Vince Lombardi. The Super Bowl is celebrated as an unofficial holiday in the United States, with millions of fans tuning in to watch the final game, halftime show, and various commercials.

Major NFL Events

The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), played annually on the first Sunday in February. It’s a culmination of the regular season and playoffs, where the two conference champions (AFC and NFC) face each other to determine the overall NFL champion. The Super Bowl has become a prominent event in American sports and culture, drawing both avid and casual fans alike.

Super Bowl Sunday is often treated as an unofficial holiday, with parties held across the country to watch and celebrate the event. The halftime show is another major attraction, featuring live music performances by prominent artists. Additionally, Super Bowl commercials have gained a reputation for their creativity and entertainment value, sometimes overshadowing the game itself.

Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl is the NFL’s all-star game, held annually one week before the Super Bowl. It features top players from each conference (AFC and NFC) who are selected by a combination of fan voting, player voting, and coach voting. The Pro Bowl is a showcase of talent and a celebration of the league’s best players. Unlike the intense competition of the Super Bowl or playoff games, the Pro Bowl is more relaxed and focuses on camaraderie amongst players.

Over the years, the Pro Bowl has seen various formats, including inter-conference play and unconferenced selections. The location of the game has also changed periodically, with the majority of the events taking place in Hawaii and Orlando.

NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is an annual event during which NFL teams select new players from college football to add to their rosters. The draft generally takes place in late April or early May and is a crucial part of the league’s structure, as it helps maintain competitive balance and allows teams to build for the future.

The draft operates in a reverse-order selection process, with the team that had the worst record in the previous season picking first, while the Super Bowl winner picks last in each round. This system helps to ensure that weaker teams receive a higher chance of securing elite talent, thus creating more parity in the league. The NFL Draft consists of seven rounds, and teams have the ability to trade their picks with other teams to move up or down the draft order.

In recent years, the NFL Draft has grown in popularity and media coverage, turning it into a major spectacle. Fans follow the draft closely, analyzing prospects and debating which players their favorite teams should select. The draft also provides an opportunity for college players to achieve their dream of playing professional football.

Awards and Recognitions

The NFL, short for National Football League, is the highest level of professional American football in North America. With numerous talented players and competitive teams, the league has numerous awards to recognize outstanding achievements.

Most Valuable Player

The AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award is one of the most prestigious awards in American football. Each year, the Associated Press honors the player who has demonstrated exceptional performance throughout the season. This accolade is voted on by a panel of 50 sportswriters who regularly cover the NFL. Some notable past winners include quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning.

Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is another major aspect of recognition in the NFL. Based in Canton, Ohio, the Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sport as players, coaches, or other prominent roles. Since its establishment in 1963, over 300 individuals have been inducted, acknowledging their achievements and impact on the sport.

Inductees are chosen by a selection committee that consists of 48 members, including media representatives from each NFL city, at-large delegates, and two members of the Pro Football Writers of America. The selection process begins with a list of nominees, narrowed down to 25 semifinalists before being further reduced to finalists, who are then voted on by the committee.

Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a significant milestone in an NFL player’s career, cementing their legacy as one of football’s greatest contributors. Notable inductees include Jerry Rice, Reggie White, Joe Montana, and Walter Payton. New inductees are celebrated each year during the Enshrinement Week, which includes various events such as a parade, autograph sessions, and the highly anticipated Enshrinement Ceremony.

Economic Impact

The NFL (National Football League) is an economic powerhouse in American sports, dominating the viewership among football enthusiasts. With an average viewership of 15.8 million per game during the 2018/19 season, the league has experienced a 5% increase from the previous year, bolstering its revenues and economic influence.

In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, the NFL earned approximately $9.8 billion in national revenue, which is distributed evenly among its 32 teams, regardless of individual performance. The league’s total revenue reached $17 billion in 2021, making it one of the most economically powerful sports organizations worldwide.

The NFL’s financial success can be attributed to various revenue streams, including:

  • Television Rights: Major networks such as CBS and NBC pay hefty sums to broadcast NFL games, ensuring widespread viewership and generating substantial ad revenue.
  • Ticket Sales: Fans attending games in stadiums contribute significantly to the NFL’s income, supporting the franchises’ operations and facility upgrades.
  • Sponsorships: The league collaborates with several high-profile sponsors to promote their brands in connection with NFL events, further increasing revenue.

The league’s economic impact extends beyond revenue generation and viewership. It also contributes to job creation and local economies through the employment of thousands at the team and league office levels, as well as indirectly supporting businesses in hospitality, retail, and transportation sectors.

While the NFL has achieved significant economic growth and success in recent decades, it continues to navigate challenges such as the rise of streaming platforms, which may impact traditional revenue sources. Nevertheless, the NFL remains a vital contributor to the U.S. economy, with its popularity and economic impact showing no signs of slowing down.

Social and Cultural Impact

The NFL, or National Football League, has long been a significant aspect of American culture and society. As the most popular professional sports league in the United States, the NFL has become a driving force in entertainment, fashion, and multiple other industries.

The league has transformed athletes into household names and entertainment icons, with players transcending their on-field performance and becoming fixtures in popular culture. These celebrity athletes often leverage their fame and influence for various charitable endeavors and business opportunities, further embedding the NFL into American society.

Another way the NFL reflects American culture is through the ongoing dialogue surrounding social issues. Various stances taken by players, such as peaceful protests aimed at highlighting inequality and social injustice, have sparked considerable debate on a national level. The league has also confronted societal issues such as violence, diversity, and gender equality.

Additionally, the NFL has a notable influence on the economics and politics of the United States. The league generates billions of dollars in revenue through ticket sales, merchandise, and media rights. These streams of income not only support thousands of jobs but also contribute to local and national economies.

In conclusion, the NFL’s considerable social and cultural impact can be observed in many facets of American life. From creating entertainment icons to driving discussions on societal issues, the league has undoubtedly influenced American perception and culture.