The NFL is one of the most recognizable sports leagues worldwide despite the fact that American football is only popular in North America.
Even within the US, those who don’t know who quarterback Tom Brady is are likely familiar with his wife, international supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Those who don’t want to sit down to watch the Super Bowl for the sake of football will likely watch for a stellar halftime show and presentation of special commercials by major brands.
The NFL tends to offer something for everyone. And now that sports betting has arrived in the US, the league will likely gain more steam with new sports fans interested in trying their hand at betting.
In the past two years, sports betting has slowly entered the US market state by state. As the industry grows, it’s likely the Super Bowl will become the most popular spectacle to wager on given it regularly sees over 100 million remote viewers.
At the moment, sportsbooks are competing to gain a foothold with new bettors. At the same time, sites like OddsCheckers that offer NFL picks and allow users to compare odds from a wide range of companies are also helping to bring more attention to the sport.
As the NFL’s stakes grow with a new wave of sports fans, there’s likely to be an influx of new fans with plenty to learn. So with this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting facts about the league.
Packers 1,000-Year Wait List
The Green Bay Packers are one of the most popular teams in the league. In the hundred years, the Packers have been an active club, they’ve been a formidable force. Since the official formation of the NFL, they’ve made five appearances in the Super Bowl and have taken home four titles.
Most importantly, the Packers have never left their home in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Unlike the other 31 teams in the NFL, the Packers are the only to be a publicly-traded franchise. This means that fans own the team that represents their city.
While this adds to the pride and prestige surrounding the Packers, it’s also lent to a very long wait for season tickets. Since 1960, the team has sold out season tickets every year. Today, the waitlist has 130,000 names which, totaled together with the average wait time of 30 years, is equal to nearly 1,000 years.
4,000 Footballs a Day
Wilson is a leading manufacturer of sports equipment worldwide. They’re also the official brand for the NFL’s footballs, which means the company regularly produces cow-skin balls for the league.
Wilson creates up to 4,000 footballs every day worldwide and uses about 3,000 cowhides each year to produce the astronomical amount of footballs in demand. They’ve been under contract with the NFL since 1941.
Fewest Games in the Major Leagues
The MLB, NHL, and NBA are notorious for their high season game count, which number past 2,000 league-wide in the regular season alone. The NFL, by comparison, only plays 256 games in the 17-week regular season.
This occurs because the NFL is the only major league sport aside from the MLS that doesn’t include series faceoffs. In the MLB, NHL, and NBA, certain regular season faceoffs, as well as championships, include multi-game series’ that determine whether or not a team advances.
Colts First Contract Cheerleaders
In 1954, the Baltimore Colts became the first NFL franchise to have their own professional female cheerleading squad. In 2018, the LA Rams became the first team to hire male cheerleaders.
Though cheerleading squads aren’t standard (six NFL teams don’t have them), they’re largely synonymous with the sport.
The 1958 NBC Legend
One popular myth in the NFL world comes from a 1958 NFC Championship Game. At the time, there wasn’t a Super Bowl Championship Game played between the NFC and AFC. Instead, each competed in a separate finals match.
In 1958, broadcasting major games like the NFC Championship was still new. As such, an NBC statistician noticed that the company’s cable had come unplugged, meaning the live match wouldn’t make it to homes around the country. To stall the match, the statistician allegedly ran onto the field to impersonate a wily fan gone wild.
Washington Football Team Rename
In 2013, the owner of the Washington Football Team went on record saying, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.” Fast forward seven years to FedEx and other major sponsors for the franchise pushing owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the squad.
After decades of groups lobbying against the use of a slur as the name and mascot for the Washington Football Team, the franchise officially announced its plans to rebrand earlier this year.
Apollo Creed Was a Raider
Before actor Carl Weathers made his name alongside Sylvester Stallone in 1976’s Rocky, he was an NFL player for the Oakland Raiders. After a short stint as a linebacker for the team, Weathers was injured.
Unable to recover and find his place on the team, the Raiders released Weathers. He briefly played with the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League before moving on to Hollywood.
In the early 1960s, executives in the fledgling NFL struggled to reform the league’s divisions between the AFC and the NFC. Huge disagreements continued to delay important decisions when Peter Rozelle, commissioner of the league, brought in his secretary, Thelma Elkjer, to help form the divisions.
Split between five different division plans, Elkjer devised a solution: throw each plan into a vase and allow her to randomly select the winner. As a trusted confidante for all those who worked with her, Elkjer’s plan led to the formation of the NFC East.
Halfback to Supreme Court Justice
In 1938, Bryon White was drafted to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a halfback. In his debut season, he led the league in rushing yards. However, White would go on to Yale Law School the next year and forego his career in the NFL to become a Supreme Court Justice.
In 1993, he retired and was replaced by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Five Teams Without Retired Numbers
Most NFL teams retire numbers of prestigious players after they’re inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. The Chicago Bears hold the record with a total of 14 retired numbers that new players can’t wear.
However, the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars have no retired numbers due to their late-coming to the league. The Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders also have no retired numbers, though it’s due to internal policy rather than lack of Hall of Famers.