With the Super Bowl not played until 1967 and the NFL-AFL merger not taking place until 1970 to form the NFL in its current form, some fans may not realize that the NFL originally was formed in 1920. Only three current NFL teams existed at that time, and neither of the two that were NFL members had their current names. While the NFL has come a long way from an era with leather helmets, NFL teams in Canton (now the location of the Football Hall of Fame), Dayton and Akron , Ohio and regular-season ties multiple times a season for some teams, its history is still an integral part of its image.
For these ten teams, their history has included name changes, moves and years of painful droughts, but also several Super Bowls or other NFL championships. The Hall of Fame is filled with players from these ten teams, some of whom have defined their positions for years to come. This list also reveals how the AFL-NFL merger is still an integral part the way, as nine of the ten teams on this list are currently in the NFC – three in the NFC West, three in the NFC North and three in the NFC East. One of them even dates back to 1898, before the invention of the airplane or the production of the Ford Model T. Whether or not your favourite team is on this list, one of the teams on this list has likely impacted yours in some way, and the teams on this list helped to shape the league in ways that have affected your team of choice.
10 T10. Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers: 1946
The current iteration of the Browns was not created until 1999, but the original version of the team was founded by businessman Arthur MacBride in the now-defunct All-America Football Conference. After the league folded, however, the Browns became NFL members in 1950. In their early years they were one of football’s most dominant teams, winning the AAFC in four consecutive years from 1946-1949 and then the NFL Championship in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964. Since the creation of the Super Bowl, however, the Browns have never played in a championship game. In 1995, the original Browns franchise moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens, but left the Browns identity in Cleveland for the future expansion team. While the team is most closely associated with original coach Paul Brown and legendary running back Jim Brown, the team name is actually shortened form of Brown Bombers, the nickname of iconic boxer Joe Louis.
9 Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams: 1937
While the Rams have played in three different cities, they have also won a championship in each one. The team was founded in 1937 by an attorney, Homer Marshman, who borrowed their name from Fordham University in New York and another separate Cleveland Rams football team that had existed in 1936. A group that included famous comedian and frequent Oscar host Bob Hope later bought the team in the early 1940s, and after they won their first championship in 1945, they moved the team to Los Angeles in 1946.
8 T7. Philadelphia Eagles, 1933
7 T7. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1933
The Steelers name derives from Pittsburgh’s status as one of America’s most prominent steel manufacturers and, like the Eagles, the team has played their entire franchise history in the same city. The only current AFC member on this list, the team has had two major periods of success. Under coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers won four Super Bowls from 1974 to 1979, and two more with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the 2005 and 2008 seasons. The Steelers have a reputation as one of the most stable franchises in NFL history, as the team has only had three different coaches since 1969 (Noll from 1969-1992, Bill Cowher from 1992-2007 and Tomlin from 2007 to the present).
6 Boston Braves/Boston Redskins/Washington Redskins: 1932
Originating as the Boston Braves, the team took on its current name in 1933, one year into its existence, before moving to Washington in 1937. The team won the NFL Championship in 1937 and 1942, before going on to win three Super Bowls under the coaching of Joe Gibbs in 1982, 1987 and 1991. The team’s name has currently come under significant controversy, as many feel it is highly offensive to First Nations communities across North America, but team owner Dan Snyder has so far declined to consider a team name change seriously, claiming the team’s history is closely associated with its name.
5 Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions: 1930
4 New York Giants: 1925
3 Green Bay Packers, 1921
2 Decatur Staleys/Chicago Staleys/Chicago Bears, 1920
The Bears and Packers are age-old rivals, having played each other nearly 200 times since their first game against each other in 1921, two years after the two teams were first formed in 1919. The Bears currently lead the overall matchup 93-89-6.
1 Morgan Athletic Club, Racine/Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals: 1898
The oldest football team in the NFL, the Cardinals are now in their third century of existence. The team started off as the Morgan Athletic Club in Chicago's South Side, and gained the nickname Cardinals in 1901. They spent the majority of their existence in Chicago, before moving to St. Louis in 1959 and to Arizona for the 1988 season. Along with the Bears, they are one of the two original founding members of the NFL remaining. They have, however, been far less successful than the Packers, Bears or Giants, winning just two championships in their team’s history, in 1925 and 1947, both in the pre-Super Bowl era. Aside from being featured in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, their greatest moment in recent memory came when Kurt Warner led them to Super Bowl XLIII in January 2009, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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