Category Archives: Football

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The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL

When the NFL first started in 1920, it wasn’t the high-flying spectacle it is now. Here are the moments that shaped America’s game in 100 years of the NFL.
The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL
Photo Credit: Betway NFL
The Forward Pass
The passing game isn’t nearly what it used to be during the early years of the NFL. The NFL in its early stages resembled a game closer to that of the game of Rugby and forward passes were considered illegal.

When forward passes were allowed—although still rare—quarterbacks could only throw the ball forward from within five yards of the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t until 1933 that the NFL began to separate itself from college football where they began to allow forward passes from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. This is what would come to shape the game of football that we know today.

At this same time, it was rare to see a quarterback throw for big numbers. In the 1932 season, no quarterback threw for more than 640 yards or nine touchdowns. In 2015, we saw Drew Brees throw for 505 yards and seven touchdowns in one game—an NFL record for passing touchdowns in a single game.
The Draft
The volatility of one team going from the bottom dwellers to winning a super bowl title in a couple of seasons is what makes the NFL Draft one of the most exciting sports events of the year.

In 1936, the NFL, in a bid to restore a competitive and take leverage away from the players, held its inaugural draft. Franchises would begin taking turns selecting college players, with the worst team from each previous season picking first. Before then, the players held all the cards as teams would engage in chaotic bidding wars to sign amateur players right out of college.

Within the next 30 years, every other major sports league would follow suit and hold their own inaugural draft.
Racial Integration
During the league’s formative years, its players and coaches were almost exclusively white, despite having a handful of black players in its very early seasons. Between 1934 and 1946, there were no black players at all.

Ultimately, in 1946, UCLA Bruins running back, Kenny Washington—who is regarded as one of the best collegiate players ever— broke the race barrier and became the first African-American to sign an NFL contract.

From then on, the NFL slowly integrated black players into the league, with most coming from the AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

As of 2014, the NFL’s player pool was 68% African-American. But the issues of race in sports is still ongoing despite the NFL’s ground-breaking Rooney Rule (2003), which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for every head coaching vacancy. As of the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, only three of the 32 NFL head coaches are African-American.
The Schedule
The NFL’s early years were chaotic in terms of teams’ schedules. At one point, there was no set schedule and franchises wound up playing any teams they could arrange a match with, which even included teams from outside of the league. Because of the unorganized structure of the games, the amount of match-ups teams got varied widely. Some teams were able to play 10 or more games, while the Muncie Flyers played just one, to which they lost and put them in last place.

Oddly enough, there was no championship game in the early years. Title winners were voted on by team owners at an end-of-season meeting. In 1933, the NFL revised its strange formula and had its inaugural title game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. In 1936, the NFL would begin having all nine teams play 12 games each, and since 1978, the regular season has been comprised of 16 games for each team.
The Helmets
It’s frightening to imagine the kind of helmet-to-helmet contact we see today happening with the soft leather caps players wore in the NFL’s early years. In the 1940s and 1950s, the NFL finally moved on to using plastic helmets with face masks to polymer helmets that are universal in today’s game.

The decision to move away from the leather caps was intended to improve player safety. But brain injuries like CTE are still a key concern today and the league continues to push rule changes around the league and make that kind of harsh contact illegal in the game.

In 2013, the league was sued by nearly 4,500 former players for concussion-related injuries.
The AFL Merger
In 1959, the founding of the American Football League (AFL) quickly threatened the dominance of the NFL by luring away top college recruits with lucrative contracts. The NFL recognized that the competition could threaten their talent pool and profitability and by 1966, a deal was agreed to merge the two leagues. The NFL kept its name and the AFL and NFL franchises were separated into two conferences: the AFC and the NFC. At the end of each season, the conference champions would play each other, spawning one of the biggest sporting events in the world…
The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl regularly attracts over 100 million viewers worldwide each year, more than any annual sporting event except the Champions League final. That’s impressive—thanks to the NFL’s marketing strategy—considering American Football is difficult for most outside of the U.S. to understand.

Super Sunday has essentially become a national holiday for American Football fans, and traditions like Super Bowl parties and prop bets have spread to countries even outside of the US.
The Halftime Show
Some of the biggest musical acts in the world like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé have produced iconic performances at the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s the biggest in-game entertainment that no other sports league sees and is a big component to just how successful the super bowl is.

Until the 1990s, the half-time show would only feature a marching band with a theme like A Salute to the Big Band Era or It’s a Small World. It wasn’t until Michael Jackson’s iconic 1993 91 million viewer performance that changed everything. The half-time show from then on would be a coveted gig for the world’s biggest artists.

Since then, the half-time show has essentially been as memorable as the game itself. Some unforgettable moments from over the years include Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, Katy Perry’s ‘Left Shark’, and Lady Gaga’s leap from the stadium roof.
The Salary Cap
Aside from the draft, the salary cap is the NFL’s greatest leveler. While sports like baseball and soccer (sorry, football fans) tend to reward the owners with the deepest pockets, when the NFL introduced the salary cap in 1994, a teams’ success no longer relied on how much money came out of their pockets but on good coaching and talent evaluation.

Take the New England Patriots for example. They have dominated the league since 2000 and their success can be largely attributed to three-time league MVP, Tom Brady—the (almost) undisputed GOAT quarterback and former sixth-round draft pick—and three-time Coach of the Year, Bill Belichick, rather than the checkbook of owner Robert Kraft.
International Expansion
While the NBA and MLB have both played games in London in the last year, it was the NFL that really pioneered the international expansion. The NFL played a handful of exhibition games at Wembley in the 1980s and instantly won over the fans. Now, the NFL attempts to hold a few regular-season games in London every year, thanks to a deal made by Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shahid Kahn, in 2013. International expansion has even reached Mexico City and it could end up being only a few years from now that we see a league expansion move internationally.

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Photo Credit: Betway NFLThe post The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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A Look to the Memorable FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 Finals

The FIFA U-20 World Cup has come to an end for another year, finishing up with an almighty showoff between Ukraine and the Korea Republic. The 22nd edition of the U-20s World Cup saw the world’s youth teams come together to battle it out for the trophy in the biennial championship, but it was Ukraine that came out on top this time around for the first time in the team’s run in the U20s World Cup.

Poland proved to be a worthy host for this year’s championship, catering for increased sports betting, an influx of tourists and, of course, the number of games with six pitches ready to go at once, but it was the final in Lonz that truly captured the attention of thousands.
Ukraine prove worthy
Despite falling behind after an early penalty by South Korea, Ukraine came all guns blazing to secure three goals and a 3-1 win on June 15th. The early lead saw Lee Kang-in of the South Korean secure a goal via a fifth-minute penalty, following a VAR review of a potential foul by Kim Se-Yun. However, the team seemed to fall short for the rest of the match, with Ukraine levelling the playing field at the 34th minute with an impressive goal by Supriaha just after Korea failed to secure a free kick.

On the eighth minute of the second half, Kim Hyun-Woo pulled what many consider to be a rookie error – he played the ball right into the path of Supriaha, who yet again secured another goal. Now a point up, Korea had some work to do, but despite a near-goal, they never caught up.

Ukraine secured their third goal, rubbing salt in Korea Republic’s wounds when they scored just a minute from full time when Heorhiy Tsitaishvili travelled over half of the field, finishing with a score right at the far corner.

Despite having a number of standout players, Ukraine went on to deny any individual acclaim, claiming that the team worked as precisely that – a team. However, the likes of Andriy Lunin, Serhii Buletsa, Yukhym Konoplia, Danylo Sikan and Vladyslav Supriaha certainly proved themselves as worthy candidates for the senior teams in the coming months and years.

Head Coach, Oleksandr Petravok, stated, “I am so happy. I don’t know what to say. Maybe I still have not fully realised what we achieved. It was the most important game in my life. I already got a call from the Ukraine president, who congratulated us. I have been working with these boys for five years, and I am proud. It will be very tough to say goodbye to them.”

A worthy speech, for an emotional and much-deserved win.
The Awards
As with any championship, there were some much-deserved accolades that needed to be awarded, and this year, the three talented players came from South Korea, Ukraine and Norway. Despite most teams shining as a combined unit, there were a number of players that stood out amongst the rest, offering exceptional play and outstanding results.
The Golden Ball award went to Lee Kangin, who showcased his composure, talent and skill throughout the competition. Despite being just 18 years old and the youngest player on the Korea Republic team, he showed true prowess when it came to playing decisive passes and head-turning assists. Having only been a member of the team since March this year, he’s already showing promise as a player to be watched in the coming years, with the highest number of assists and two goals, one in the semi-final, and one in the final.
The Silver Ball trophy went to Serhii Buletsa from Ukraine, who earned recognition for his smooth passing style, precise play and his ability to rack up goals for the team, while the Bronze went to Gonzalo Plata from Ecuador. He was awarded this medal for his pace, determination and his technique that turned heads and left quite the impression throughout the championship in Poland.

The Golden Boot award went to Erling Haland from Norway, who earned 9 goals in a single game! When Norway annihilated Honduras 12-0, he took claim to nine of them, earning him the much sought-after award and a third-place position in the overall all-time top scorers hall of fame for U20s. The silver award went to Danylo Sikan, who earner 4 goals over 6 games, while Amadou Sagna from Senegal earned the Bronze for 4 goals across 4 games.

The Golden Glove Award went to Andriy Lunin from Ukraine, who earned his recognition thanks to his precise and organised defence. His saves are impressive, so much so that the senior Ukraine team often call him up for the European games which saw him miss out on a few of the U-20s Championship matches this year.

Japan were the winners of this year’s Fair Play Award, only receiving 7 yellow cards across their four games, with less than 16 fouls per match. They were deserving winners of the trophy, but also took home $10,000 to put towards football equipment for the youth teams.

This year’s U20s World Cup may have come to an end, but unlike the senior games, the next one is only two years away. With the qualifying matches soon to begin, we won’t have long until we can fix our eyes on the top talent coming up through the youth rankings again.

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