It is interesting that about the same time other major team sports such as football, rugby and cricket were starting to come into organised existence in England in the 1860s and 1870s, American Football was taking its first steps on the field.
Rugby surely served as the basis for the first recorded game back in 1869 between two universities in New Jersey — Princeton and Rutgers. The first rules were written in 1876 by which time the sport had spread up and down the east coast of the US and also into Canada.
The rules were tweaked and amended in the years after by limited the number of players and the extension of the ‘down’ system which gives teams four plays to move 10 yards.
The first game was recorded as taking place in 1869
There were a number of deaths recorded in the early days before the intervention of US President Theodore Roosevelt
A European league started in the nineties but folded
College football can be more popular than the professional league
The biggest development was perhaps the intervention of president Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. He told the sport to tone down the violence and the danger that had led to deaths and a lot of serious injuries.
The NFL began officially in 1920 but the sport had already established itself around the country in universities. The popularity of college football remains to this day and in some parts of the country, there is more interest in college football than the money-laden NFL.
The game has continued to grow and started to break out of the United States in the 80s and it started to be broadcast in European countries.
In 1991, NFL Europe was born with teams in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany as well with a number of teams in the United States. It had its ups and downs, started with plenty of interest but continued to lose money and it ceased operations in 2007.
There is still a more international interest in the modern game. The NFL plays a couple of games in London and Mexico City on a regular basis and there, or were before the onset of coronavirus, plans to open a full-time franchise overseas.