On this page we'll cover some of the more common questions we get asked about American Football, including why they call it football when the ball is primarily carried, how much players make and why teams move from town to town.
- Why is it called football?
- How much do NFL players get paid?
- Why do college football players not get paid?
- Is an American Football made out of pigskin?
- Why does the Super Bowl have it's name?
- Why do NFL teams move between towns?
Why is it called “football”?
Many people wonder why American football is referred to as football when the ball is mainly carried and thrown. The origin of the name comes originally from the fact that American football’s roots lie in the game of rugby, the official name of which is rugby football. Rugby football grew out of the game of soccer in the UK, when according to legend, William Webb Ellis decided to pick the ball up and run with it. The game of rugby spread to other nations, including the USA. Here, various college teams played their own versions of rugby football and the game’s rules were standardised following a meeting between Princeton, Harvard and Yale representatives in 1875. Thus a form of ‘“American rugby football” was founded – the popular name becoming “American football”.
How much do NFL players get paid / Who is the highest paid NFL player?
Like most sports, the salaries of NFL footballers can vary wildly. However, unlike many sports the NFL does have agreed minimum salaries for all players, these rising by $15,000 every year. They are as follows:
- 2016 - $450,000
- 2017 - $465,000
- 2018 - $480,000
1 Year Experience
- 2016 - $525,000
- 2017 - $540,000
- 2018 - $555,000
2 Years Experience
- 2016 - $600,000
- 2017 - $615,000
- 2018 - $630,000
3 Years Experience
- 2016 - $675,000
- 2017 - $690,000
- 2018 = $705,000
4-6 Years Experience
- 2016 - $760,000
- 2017 - $775,000
- 2018 - $790,000
7-9 Years Experience
- 2016 - $885,000
- 2017 - $900,000
- 2018 - $915,000
10+ Years Experience
- 2016 - $985,000
- 2017 - $1,000,000
- 2018 - $1,015,000
Some players in the NFL however earn considerably more than these amounts. How much a player can make in the NFL can depend upon various factors including:
- Which team he plays for
- How successful that team is
- His position in the team
- How good he is as a player
- How experienced he is
- How ‘commercial’ he is (i.e. is he a celebrity/is he the sort of player that brands want to sponsor or use in adverts).
Currently, Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s highest paid player earning on average $22 million per year (2016). There have been a number of similar contracts in recent years, including Peyton Manning in his twilight years at the Denver Broncos, earning $23 million per year, the New York Giants Eli Manning earning $20.5 million, and Donovan McNabb reputedly earning $25 million per year whilst at the Washington Redskins. Unsurprisingly, all of these high earners are quarterbacks. The average NFL player makes approximately $860,000 per year.
Why do college football players not get paid?
The difference between college football and NFL football is that college football is an amateur game and the NFL is a professional game. The college game effectively acts as a feeder system for the NFL, the best amateur players in college football being drafted into the NFL every year.
The amateur status of college football has come under attack in recent years despite the NCAA’s insistence that college football should remain its amateur status and that it should not overtake the primary principle of going to college which is to get a good education. The NCAA state on their website that "Amateur competition is a bedrock principle of college athletics. Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority."
Thanks to a recent US Court of Appeals ruling, the status quo has been retained and whilst college football players may not receive money for playing football, they can receive money towards their college fees, as well as having an allowance to cover living and travel costs.
Is a football made out of pigskin?
Footballs may often be referred to as ‘pigskins’ but football’s today are made out of cowhide or a vulcanized rubber. However, it is often cited that the origin of the name ‘pigskins’ comes from the fact that football’s in the old days (1800s) used to be made from the skin of pigs.
Is this true? Yes… and no. Yes, football’s did used to be made out of pigs, but it wasn’t their skin it was made from. Footballs were actually made out of pig’s bladders. This was for two main reasons. Firstly, a pig's bladder is essentially offal, which makes it a lot more accessible and affordable compared to other materials, such as leather. Secondly, when it was inflated, it was reasonably round and served well as a ball to play with requiring the minimum of attention.
Occasionally the bladder would be stuffed with straw or other materials and then over time they were encased in leather. Thankfully for players, using bladders for balls ended in the mid 1800s just as the game of American football was beginning to move away from rugby.
Why is the Super Bowl called the Super Bowl?
The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967 and was the result of the merger of the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) leagues in 1966. With both leagues deciding to join together under the banner of the NFL, AFL teams went into the American Football Conference (AFC) and the NFL teams would go into the National Football Conference. The winners of these concurrent championships would meet each other in the Super Bowl game decide the NFL Championship. But where did the name “Super Bowl” actually come from?
Pete Rozelle had been given the job of NFL Commissioner and it was his job to come up with a name for this championship game. Initial ideas included “The Pro Bowl”, “ The Big One” and “The World Series of Football”. Eventually the cumbersome “The AFL-NFL World Championship Game” was decided upon. As a name, it never really took off and it was actually Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas CIty Chiefs and founder of the AFL, who came up with the name. At an owners meeting, he is reported to have said “Well, we need to come up with a name, something like the ‘Super Bowl’”. He was later said to have disliked the name but for some reason it stuck and has been the name of the NFL Championship Game ever since.
Why do NFL teams move between towns?
Although popular sports such as soccer have seen teams move cities/towns within their respective countries, it is a relatively rare occurrence. However, in USA sport, the relocation of professional sports teams is much more common and has happened a number of times in the life of the NFL. This is because the NFL, like some other American based sports, use a league franchise system where teams are privately owned and operate according to the wishes of their owners. This is in contrast to sports, such as soccer in Europe, where teams may be privately owned but have deep links and ties with their local communities.
When teams do move, it is generally (though not always) smaller and less established teams with a small fan base. There can be a number of reasons why teams move. It can stem from a lack of support in the local area, issues with facilities being inadequate, or financial problems. Ultimately, however, the decision rests with the owners of the franchise.
Since 1970 when the NFL and AFL merged, there have been a number of moves:
- 1982 - Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982
- 1984 - Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984
- 1988 - St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix in 1988 (becoming the Arizona Cardinals in 1994)
- 1995 - Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995
- 1995 - Los Angeles Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995
- 1997 - Houston Oilers moved temporarily to Memphis in 1997 as the Tennessee Oilers and then permanently to Nashville in 1998 being renamed the Tennessee Titans in 1999
- 2016 - St. Louis Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2016