Inside the NFL: What were the original 8 NFL teams?
The APFA was founded in 1920 with 14 teams- two of which still exist, the Bears and Cardinals. The “original 8” NFL teams were then created in 1932.
The NFL was founded in 1920 as the first professional football league to successfully establish a nationwide showing, after various decades of failed attempts. At the time, it was founded as the APFA, or the American Professional Football Association, with 14 teams- two of which still exist today, the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals.
So why is it the “original 8” who started the NFL and not the original 14? Let’s take a look.
The “Original 8” NFL Teams
Over the first decade of the NFL’s existence, the number of teams fluctuated regularly; the 14 teams became 22 teams in 1926, and a year later they dropped to 12 teams.
Then the first playoffs took place in 1932, and there were eight teams existing by then: the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants, the Boston Braves (today’s Washington Football Team), the Portsmouth Spartans (today's Detroit Lions), the Staten Island Stapletons, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
That’s when the NFL we know truly came to be.
In 1943, the NFL also had eight existing teams again: the Dodgers, the Redskins, the Bears, the Cardinals, the Giants, Packers, the Detroit Lions, and the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Steagles (the wartime player shortage resulted in the merging of the Eagles and Steelers in one season).
From 1944 to 1969, the Rams, Browns, 49ers, Vikings, Saints, Falcons, Cowboys, and Colts were added to the league. Then the NFL merged with the AFL in 1969/1970, which added ten new teams.
The AFL-NFL merger: the Super Bowl Creator
The AFL, or American Football League was founded in 1960, as the rival. Because of the NFL’s dominance at the time, the birth of the AFL only created the merger that the old NFL needed to become the real NFL we know today. That merger was the reason the league expanded greatly, and created the Super Bowl, which became the dominant sporting event in the United States.
The modern NFL is the outcome of decades of expansions and contractions, with 32 teams currently. The latest team addition was in 2002 when the Houston Texans were added to the league.