The 96th National Football League season is scheduled to begin Thursday, September 10th, 2015 and the kickoff game will be between the defending Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots who are hosting the Pittsburg Steelers. The 2015 season will conclude with Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February, 7, 2016, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Each team may start training camps in early July to the end of preseason, September 3. At this point, the roster of each team will be open to 90 players. These players are cut down over the preseason games to the final 53-man roster by the end of preseason. The regular season features 256 games played over a seventeen-week schedule starting on the Thursday following Labor Day. Each of the 32 teams in the NFL play a 16-game schedule with one bye week that includes the opening game of the regular season on September 10th and the annual three games on Thanksgiving Day as well as seventeen Monday night games. This December will feature the second ever night game on Christmas Eve, the Oakland Raiders will be hosting the San Diego Chargers at 8:25p.m. EST on December 24. As usual there are new rules and regulations as well as increased testing, oversight and security surrounding the footballs and at random games officials will measure the PSI of 24 footballs at halftime. Seven teams have new coaches this year, three teams have front office personnel changes. After longtime Referee Bill Leavy retired after the 2014 season the NFL promoted judge John Hussey to the position of referee then the NFL decided to hire nine more officials including, Sarah Thomas, the first full-time female official in NFL History.
The National Football League has been around since 1920. It has gone though a few name changes (it began as the American Professional Football Conference) and merged with another league (the American Football League in 1970), but each major change has only made the league more dominant. Today, NFL tickets are arguably the most popular sports tickets in the country and national television networks truly appreciate a contract with the league, whether the station gets to show games played by the AFC or the NFC on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday, in the afternoon or in the evening.
That first season and the ones that followed were difficult. Football had yet to become extremely popular, and most of that fan devotion was attributed to the college game. This professional league sought to truly create a product worth watching and it succeeded.
The NFL steadily expanded its standings, though the only two remaining original franchises are the Decatur Staleys (the modern day Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (the modern day Arizona Cardinals).
Rivalries quickly took hold and the sport’s popularity boomed. Teams like the Green Bay Packers, Bears, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants dominated the pre-Super Bowl era. Eventually the AFL emerged and was the first professional football league to offer a challenge to the NFL. The two began pitting their champions against each other in 1967, three years before the league’s officially merged.
In the Super Bowl era, the National Football League has expanded to 32 teams, eight divisions, and two conferences. A few wild cards have been added and a couple of rounds have made the NFL playoffs even more interesting. Also, the game itself has morphed into something unrecognizable to the earlier versions of football.
Passing has not taken over, but it is on equal footing with running the football. Defenses have become increasingly complex, making each contest a venerable chess game with 11 players on each side for two coaches. Professional football is now America’s game and each Sunday during the fall and winter hundreds of thousands of fans show up at stadiums, bars, and friends places across the country to enjoy.