American Football Leagues

American Football Leagues Era (1923-1983)

Only the American Football League of 1960-1969 has been successful long-term, leading to both the start of the Super Bowl between the AFL Winners and the NFL Winners in 1967 and the eventual merger of the two leagues (They are now the American & National Football Conferences in the NFL – the Super Bowl is still played between the winners of the two Conferences)

The first Major rival to the NFL to use the American Football League name was the AFL of 1926, and from then until 1950 Leagues using this name came and went, usually lasting only one or two seasons. Theses Leagues, however, are notable for the genesis of teams such as the Cleveland (Now Los Angeles) Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts, which later joined the NFL. The AFL of 1960 also reused the names of some of these teams (Buffalo Bills & Cincinnati Bengals), teams which are now also in the NFL.

After the 1950s when the National Football League started playing International games in Canada and against Canadian opposition, and the Canadian Football League and Leagues in the New York Metropolitan Area provided a AAA Alternative to the NFL, new AAA Leagues started up again in the 1960s. The Continental Football League (1965-1969), World Football League (1974-1975) and United States Football League (1983-1985) are the most famous and biggest of these leagues.

Most of these Leagues, in particular the WFL & USFL tried, and failed to become another American Football League of 1960-1969 which was so successful it forced a merger with the NFL, with the winners of the two Leagues (now conferences since the merger in 1970) playing each other in the Super Bowl. (see National Football League )

The United Football League (1961-1964) was the first of these, and then from 1965-1969 the Continental Football League was the first to put teams in both Canada and Mexico.

The Southwestern Football League of 1972-1973 was the precursor to the World Football League (1974-1975) which aimed to bring the sport to the World, although Hawaii was as far as it got. The American Football association of 1977-1983 was another attempt at a AAA League although it was put out of business by the United States Football League (1983-1985) which was the first Major Spring League.  It featured High Profile Owners, such as the later US President Donald Trump, but was itself put out of business by the NFL’s collusion with the Major TV Networks to keep it off the air, as was proved in a later anti-trust trial.