After several decades of futile attempts, the NFL was established in 1920 as the first professional football league to achieve a nationwide fan base. It had 14 teams when it was created and was known as the American Professional Football Association (APFA).
However, only eight NFL teams are regarded as being the originals. The reason for the existence of the original eight NFL teams is that during the initial NFL years, the numbers of the teams kept fluctuating.
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The founding 14 teams grew to 22 teams in 1926; after a year, the number of teams dropped to 12. The NFL used to determine champions through ranking in every season. In 1932, the method of choosing a winner changed to playoffs between the teams.
The first playoff of the NFL was played on December 18, 1932, at Chicago Stadium in Chicago. Eight NFL teams were present in the first playoff. These eight teams are now considered the original eight NFL teams and the teams that started it all.
In our blog, we have discussed all the original eights in detail. If you want to know more about exciting NFL history, keep reading!
List of Original Eight NFL Teams
The following are the original eight NFL teams:
- Arizona Cardinals (1898)
- Chicago Bears (1920)
- Green Bay Packers (1919)
- New York Giants (1952)
- Detroit Lions (1929)
- Washington Commanders (1932)
- Pittsburgh Steeler (1933)
- Philadelphia Eagles (1933)
How Did the NFL Start: The Original Eight NFL Teams
The National Football League was founded in 1920 with the contribution of 14 teams. Of these, only two teams, the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears are currently playing. The other six teams played in the first NFL playoff and are the original eight NFL teams.
Let’s look into the history of the original NFL teams and how they came into being:
1. Arizona Cardinals (1898)
First Nfl Season: 1920
Year Established: 1898
Home Field: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
Current Owner: Bill Bidwill
Previous Names: Chicago Cardinals (1920 – 1943), (1945 – 1959); Card-Pitt (1944); St. Louis Cardinals (1960 – 1987); Phoenix Cardinals (1988 – 1993); and Arizona Cardinals (1994 – Present)
Current Colors: Cardinal Red, Black, and White
The Arizona Cardinal is one of the two national Football League charter members still in existence. The Arizona Cardinals traced their history decades before the foundation of the NFL was placed in 1988.
Initially known as the Morgan Athletic Club, the team eventually changed its name when Chris O’Brien, the team’s founder, purchased old jerseys from the University of Chicago and dubbed the faded color “Cardinal red.”
The Arizona Cardinal was acquired by the Bidwill family, which still owns the team, in 1932. After World War II ended, the Cardinals won their first Super Bowl in 1947. The Cardinals have moved from one city to another and have called three cities their homes, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Chicago.
2. Chicago Bears (1920)
First NFL Season: 1920
Year Established: September 17, 1920
Home Field: Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Current Owner: Virginia Halas McCaskey
Previous Names: Decatur Staleys (1920); Chicago Staleys (1921); and Chicago Bears (1922 – Present)
Current Colors: Navy Blue, Burnt Orange, and White
The Chicago Bears have always been among the most well-liked and successful NFL teams. Along with the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears is one of the only existing NFL founding members.
The Chicago Bears were previously known as Decatur (Illinois) Staleys and were founded by A.E. Staley in 1920. Staley decided to pay George Halas $5,000 to coach the club.
In exchange for a one-year commitment from Halas to continue using the Staleys name, the Staley Starch Company permitted Halas to relocate the club to Chicago. The Chicago Bears only won one Super Bowl until now in 1985.
3. Green Bay Packers (1919)
First NFL Season: 1921
Year Established: August 11, 1919
Home Field: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Current Owner: Green Bay Packers, Inc. (governed by a Board of Directors)
Previous Names: Green Bay Packers (1919 – Present)
Current Colors: Dark Green, Gold, and White
The Green Bay Packers were established on August 11, 1919, by former rivals in high school football, Earl “Curly” Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun. They were the only surviving members of the “small-town teams” that were prominent in the NFL during its early years in the 1920s and 1930s.
The franchise is the longest surviving franchise that has never moved or altered its name. Since its founding in 1919, the Packers, which the Indian Packing Company sponsored, have been based out of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Coach Vince Lombardi is the other important figure in Packers history, along with Lambeau. The Green Bay Packers won 11 NFL Championships (pre-Super Bowl) between two coaches.
4. New York Giants (1925)
First NFL Season: 1925
Year Established: August 1, 1925
Home Field: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Current Owner: John Mara and Steve Tisch
Previous Names: New York Giants (1925 – Present)
Current Colors: Dark Blue, Red, and White
The New York Giants are also one of the few NFL franchises that have not changed their names since their founding. Tim Mara founded the franchise in 1925. Tim purchased the New York Giants in New York for $5000.
By the end of that first season, Mara had committed another $25,000 merely to keep the squad alive and guarantee that New York would continue to have a professional team.
More than 70,000 fans saw the New York Giants play in their inaugural season because they were a well-liked club from the start. The Giants were also a powerful and talented team from the start and won their first NFL Championship in 1927, their third season.
5. Detroit Lions (1929)
First NFL Season: 1930
Year Established: 1929
Home Field: Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan
Current Owner: Martha Firestone Ford
Previous Names: Portsmouth Spartans (1930 – 1933); and Detroit Lions (1934 – Present)
Current Colors: Honolulu Blue and Silver
Detroit Lion was previously called Portsmouth Spartans and is one of the original eight NFL teams. The franchise was established in 1929 and played a significant game against the Chicago Bears after two years, leading to three significant rule changes in the NFL.
There had been several unsuccessful attempts to start a professional team in Detroit previous to the acquisition of the Spartans. Unlike those past teams, the newly established Lions had some of the star players of the period and was led by Dutch Clark, an early football megastar and the NFL’s last dropkicker.
The Lions’ success was short-lived, and they only won one Super Bowl in 1957. From then until now, the Lions have struggled to get their game back on.
6. Washington Commanders (1932)
First NFL Season: 1932
Year Established: July 9, 1932
Home Field: FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland
Current Owner: Daniel Snyder
Previous Names: Boston Braves (1932); Boston Redskins (1933 – 1936); Washington Redskins (1937 – 2019); Washington Football Team (2020 – 2021); and Washington Commanders (2022 – Present)
Current Colors: Burgundy and Gold
The Washington Commanders, one of the NFL’s oldest franchises, was founded as the Boston Braves in 1932. Redskins was the new title of the team in 1933.
The team’s owner was always unhappy about the lack of support for the team in Boston. In 1937, the team moved to Washington, D.C., where they immediately won the first five world championships.
The franchise’s previous name Redskins have been surrounded by controversy because the name is considered an insult to indigenous Americans. After the constant pressure from activists, the franchise and the NFL agreed to change its controversial name.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (1933)
First NFL Season: 1933
Year Established: July 8, 1933
Home Field: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Current Owner: The Rooney Family
Previous Names: Pittsburgh Pirates (1933 – 1939); Pittsburgh Steelers (1940 – 1942), (1945 – Present); Phil-Pitt Steagles (1943); and Card-Pitt (1944)
Current Colors: Black and Gold
Pittsburgh Steelers is one of the original eight NFL teams still playing in the NFL. Arthur J. Rooney founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933, and the Rooney family remains the team’s current owners. While the team has always been in Pittsburgh, it was not always called the Steelers and was first the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Steelers were a mediocre club throughout the first 40 years of the franchise’s history and failed to win any kind of championship. Then in the 1970s, the Steelers struck their stride and produced one of the best winning streaks in NFL history.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won four AFC championships, eight straight trips to the playoffs in the 1970s, and seven AFC Central championships.
The Steelers became the only team to win the Super Bowl twice in succession and the first NFL club to win four Super Bowls.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (1933)
First NFL Season: 1933
Year Established: July 8. 1933
Home Field: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Current Owner: Jeffrey Lurie
Previous Names: Philadelphia Eagles (1933 – 1942), (1944 – Present); and Phil-Pitt Steagles (1943)
Current Colors: Midnight Green, Silver, Black, and White
The Philadelphia Eagles have a solid historical background in sports. The Philadelphia Eagles were founded in 1933 when a syndicate led by Bert Bell and Lud Wray paid $2,500 for the rights to the Frankford Yellowjackets.
The Philadelphia Eagles had a mediocre first decade until breaking through in the middle of the 1940s. The Philadelphia Eagles have seen many highs and lows since then, including winning the Super Bowl for the first time in 2017.
The History Behind the NFL
American football dates to the mid-19th century, when academic institutions began playing games using altered rules from soccer and rugby. As professional football became increasingly popular, many organizations started supporting teams.
The American Professional Football Association (APFA), the precursor to the National Football League founded in 1920, was established. APFA started with ten teams from four American States. These teams had previously been working in some capacity as regional teams.
The APFA changed its name to National Football League in 1922. After several decades of futile attempts, the NFL became the first professional football league to develop a presence on a national level permanently.
The NFL endured several years of instability and rivalry from rival organizations to become the strongest American professional football league. In the 1960s, the American Football League (AFL) posed the biggest threat to its dominant position.
The NFL and AFL finalized a merger in 1970, producing a 26-team league under the banner of the older NFL. Six more franchises have been added to the league through four league expansions.
FAQs- Original Eight NFL Teams
What were the original eight AFL teams?
The following are the original eight AFL teams:
- New York Titans
- Boston Patriots
- Buffalo Bills
- Houston Oilers
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Denver Broncos
- Oakland Raiders
- Dallas Texans
How many are NFL founding teams still there?
Only two founding members, the Decatur Staleys (the Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals ( the Arizona Cardinals), are still playing in the NFL.
How many original NFL founding members were there?
There were 14 founding members of the NFL, of which only two are currently playing in the league. The names of the founding members are:
- Akron Pros
- Buffalo All-Americans
- Canton Bulldogs
- Decatur Staleys
- Chicago Tigers
- Cleveland Tigers
- Columbus Panhandles
- Dayton Triangles
- Chicago Cardinals
- Hammond Pros
- Muncie Flyers
- Rock Island
How was the Super Bowl created?
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest American sports tournaments in the US. The Super Bowl was created as a result of the AFL-NFL merger.
The National Football League is one of the oldest American Football leagues. The League was established in 1920. The NFL now includes 32 competitive teams that fight to become the champion in the NFL finale, the Super Bowl.
However, there were only original eight NFL teams at the beginning. These teams evolved with the NFL and experienced all the highs and lows of time.
In our blog, we dove deep into the history of the NFL and how it became one of the most famous American Football leagues.