The National Football League (NFL)
The NFL is the major professional American Football league. Along with baseball, basketball and ice hockey, NFL Football is one of the major sports leagues of the United States. The league is comprised of 32 teams, divided into the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).
The NFL was established as the American Professional Football Association in 1920. Two years later, the decision was made to change the name of the league to the National Football League. The NFL continued to be the most important organisation in professional football until after the Second World War. The NFL survived the bitter contest it fought with the AFL in the 1960s and prevailed, albeit in a revised form, for the 1970 season.
The NFL Draft
The 2007 NFL Draft
The annual NFL Draft is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the American Football calendar. Pundits and fans spend weeks debating the likely outcome of the draft and even longer analysing the implications of what eventually transpires. The notion of a ‘draft’ designed to select the best college players in the country and find spots for them in NFL professional teams was first suggested by Bert Bell in the 1930s, and the first draft was held in 1936.
The outcome of the draft is determined by the events of the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The order in which NFL teams are permitted to pick players from the college pool is based upon their success in the previous season. Oddly, perhaps, it is not the most successful team which is invited to pick first, but the team with the poorest record. Selection then proceeds in reverse order, from the least successful teams to the most successful. After the draft is completed, teams have one year in which to sign the players they picked before the players are once more considered to be available. Teams are also permitted to bargain with other teams, and to swap draftees by mutual agreement.
The draft takes place in April. A number of websites provide gossip and news in the run up to, and in the aftermath of, the draft. The NFL Draft Countdown website is an important resource for fans. The website contains mock drafts, forums to discuss the implications for each team, positional rankings and information about the most sought after players of the draft. You might also like to take a look at:
The American Football Conference (AFC)
2006 AFC Championship Game
The AFC is one of the conferences which comprise the NFL. The AFC was created for the 1970 season and the conference is divided into four divisions, each of which is made up of four teams. During the course of a season, each team is required to face each team in their own division twice, in addition to teams from other divisions as dictated by the NFL. Please see the section entitled ‘Major Competitions’ for more information about the NFL regular season. The teams affiliated to the AFC are listed below:
AFC Northern Division
AFC Eastern Division
AFC Southern Division
AFC Western Division
The National Football Conference (NFC)
2006 NFC Championship Game
The NFC is the other conference that composes the NFL. The NFC was also created in 1970 during the union of the American Football and National Football leagues. The conference is made up of sixteen teams, divided into four divisions, each of which is made up of four teams. For more information about the structure of the NFL regular season, please refer to the section entitled ‘Major Competitions.’ The teams which comprise the NFC are listed below:
Northern NFC Division
Eastern NFC Division
Southern NFC Division
Western NFC Division
2007 Fiesta Bowl
NCAA Football is an organisation which oversees college football in the United States. For most American universities, Football is far more than a casual extra-curricular activity organised to provide students with a leisure pursuit. Instead, Football is considered an important source of revenue for colleges. It is for this reason that the coaching teams of prominent colleges expend a lot of time, effort and money scouting for talent at high school games. Players who are thought to have potential are often offered scholarships and financial assistance in exchange for attending, and playing Football for, a particular college.
While College Football is popular in its own right in the United States, it has always been considered an important training ground for potential professional players. NFL coaches are constantly on the look out for promising college players they might be able to snap up in the next draft.
NCAA Football is a not-for-profit organisation created in 1997 "to improve, promote and protect college football for those who play, coach and support the game."The organisation represents a coalition of:
- The American Football Coaches Association
- The Collegiate Commissioner’s Association
- The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association
There are a number of differences between college football rules and NFL rules. Most of these differences are relatively minor, and relate to the correct position of the ball in particular circumstances. For example, in college football two-point conversions are always taken from the 3-yard, rather than the 2-yard line. The complete NCAA Football rulebook can be found here.
College football teams play in three divisions during the regular season. A number of special events, including the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) make up the NCAA post-season. The consistently popular post-season military games, the Triangular College Football Series (a tournament between the military, naval and air force academies) and the annual Army-Navy Game also follow the regular season. See the section entitled ‘Major Competitions’ for more information about NCAA competitions.
USA Football is another non-profit organisation which oversees amateur football within the United States. The organisation provides an excellent support network for coaches and players and works extensively to promote youth football clubs. USA Football does not, however, oversee any leagues or teams. The organisation exists exclusively to provide amateur football enthusiasts with help and support. The website contains some very useful information for players, coaches and youth groups, in addition to important health and safety information.
USA Football can be contacted by post, e-mail or telephone:
8300 Boone Boulevard
Tel: +1 (703) 918 007
E-mail: By completing an online form here.
Global Football is a division of the Global Sports Group. By forging links with American Football organisations across the world, Global Football aims to promote cultural exchange and international cooperation. One of the organisation’s primary roles is to help players across the world compete against each other. It is affiliated to a number of important amateur and professional groups, including the European Federation of American Football (EFAF).
Global Football can be contacted by post, telephone or e-mail:
7301 Crube Court
Tel: +1 (817) 326 3578
The International Federation of American Football (IFAF)
American Football is becoming increasingly well-known throughout the world. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) was founded in 1996 to promote the international standing of the game. One of the main occupations of the organisation has been to lobby for the inclusion of American Football in the Olympic Games.
International Federation of American Football
79 Rue Rateau
93120 La Courneuve
Tel: +33 (1) 4311 1470
European Federation of American Football (EFAF)
The European Federation of American Football (EFAF) oversees a number of competitions created for European teams. Major events include the Eurobowl and EFAF Cup. See the section entitled ‘Major Competitions’ for more information about these events. The EFAF’s main office is in Frankfurt, and can be contacted at:
European Federation of American Football
60528 Frankfurt am Main
Tel.: +49 (69) 96740267
The British American Football Association (BAFA)
BAFA is the national governing body for the sport in Great Britain. The BAFA offers support to teams and leagues, involved in contact and non-contact American Football throughout the UK. The organisation also strives to support youth teams. For contact details and more information about playing American Football in the UK, see the section entitled ‘Playing American Football in the UK’.