In this section:

  1. National Football League (Early Era 1920-1959):
  2. National Football League (Super Bowl Era 1960-Present):
  3. Early Pro Football Leagues (1890-1919):
  4. American Football Leagues Era (1920-1950):
  5. United States Football Leagues Era (1960-1985):
  6. Arena / Indoor Football Leagues (1986-Present):
  7. Legends Football Leagues (2004-2020):
  8. XFL Football Leagues Era (1990-2020):

Note: This is a record of the Major Football Leagues (NFL and Major League Rivals to the NFL or AAA Leagues). For a more comprehensive look at each Era and League, please see the individual sections, also please see the other sections on American Football in this website:

World American Football

  1. International American Football:
  2. World American Football Leagues:
  3. Canadian Football Leagues:
  4. Mexican American Football Leagues:
  5. Japanese American Football:
  6. European American Football:

Minor League American Football:

  1. AA American Football Leagues (3rd Level: Regional: North, South, East, West):
  2. Semi-Pro American Football (4th Level: State Level Leagues):
  3. Amateur American Football (5th Level: Gridiron Development Football Leagues: City-Based):

Other American Football:

  1. Women’s American Football:
  2. US College Football:
  3. US Armed Forces Overseas:
  4. World Flag Football:
  5. World E-Football:

Major American Football Leagues Timeline:

Major American Football Leagues Timeline 1909-Present (from the Canadian Football League 1909-Present to the various Major Leagues in the USA and around the World, to the XFL-Era failed Leagues:

National Football League Early Era (1920-1959)

The most successful teams in the Ohio League and Upstate New York Pro Football Circuit joined forces in 1920, in attempt at creating a true National Football League, in order to provide a common set of rules and to cut down on the spiralling wage demands, which saw players jump from team to team in search of the best pay packet. This League, the American Professional Football Association, renamed itself the National Football League in 1922, and has since become the most popular sports league in America, although from 1920-1932 it was still a Minor (AAA) League in status.

(see: National Football League for more details on 1933-Present)

National Football League Logo [Reference: 1]

National Football League 1920-1925 (Irish Players)

National Football League Super Bowl Era (1960-Present)

National Football League and American Football League 1966-1969 (Tom Furlong and Adrian Young):

National Football League 1970-1975 (Adrian Young):

National Football League (Preseasons):


NFL Timelines

National Football League Major League Teams Timeline 1920-present

National Football League Expansion 1920-present

Early Pro American Football (1890-1919)

The first Pro american Football League was the Western Pennsylvania Pro Football Circuit in the Pittsburgh and surrounding Coal-Mining areas. The Leagues were unofficial, and the players paid under the counter. The first Word series was held in 1901, actually a five-team tournament, and that lasted two seasons. In 1903 the Ohio League became the first League to Officially pay players and when that League saw players salaries spiral due to competition from other teams for their services, four Ohio League teams joined forces with teams from Pennsylvania and Upstate New York to form the American Professional Football Association in 1920, which in 1922 changed its name to the National Football League, the Major League we know today. Canton is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the NFL Preseason opens there with the latest induction of Hall of Fame players in honour of the Canton Bulldogs, prime players in the Ohio League and formation of the NFL.

Ohio League:

Ohio League Champions Roll of Honour 1903-1919:

Ohio League Standings 1915-1919:

American Football Leagues Era (1920-1950)

Rival Leagues to the National Football League have existed since the 1920s, most of them from the 1920s to 1960s called themselves the American Football League, and since then there has been a variety of names and ideas, such as the Continental Football League (1965-1969), World Football League (1974-1975), Spring Leagues (United States Football League, 1983-1985), Indoor Football Leagues (Arena Football League 1986-2019), World Football Leagues (World League of American Football / NFL Europe 1991-2007, Elite Football League of India 2012, China AFL 2016-2019, & LFA Mexico 2016-present), Extreme Football Leagues & Leagues which failed to get off the ground (PSFL 1993, Spring League 2000, XFL 2001, United Football League 2009-2011, FXFL 2014-2015, North American Football League 2016, The Spring League 2017-Present, XFL 2020), More recently Minority Football Leagues have appeared such as the Alliance of American Football 2019 and the Freedom Football League 2020.

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)

American Football Leagues Era (1926-1950):

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.

All-America Football Conference Logo [Reference: 2]

American Football League 1926

American Football League 1934

American Football League 1936-1937

American Football League 1938-1939

American Football League 1940-1941

American Football League 1944

Pacific Coast Pro Football League 1940-1948

All-American Football Conference 1946-1949

All-America Football Conference (seasons): 1949

Major American Football Leagues Timelines

National Football League Major League Teams Timeline 1920-present

Canadian Football League Timeline 1869-present

National & American Football Leagues Timeline 1920-1959

United States Football Leagues Era Timeline 1960-1985

United States Football Leagues Era (1960-1985)

United States Football Leagues Era (1960-1985):

After a break in the 1950s when the National Football League started playing International games in Canada and against Canadian opposition, and the Canadian Football League provided a AAA Alternative to the NFL, new AAA Leagues started up again in the 1960s. 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.

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 )

United States Football League Logo [Reference: 6]

United Football League 1961-1964 (*)

Continental Football League 1965-1969

Southwestern Football League 1972-1973 (*)

World Football League 1974-1975 (Irish Players)

American Football Association 1977-1983 (*)

United States Football League 1983-1985

Southwestern Football League (Seasons): 1973

XFL Football Leagues Era (1990-2020)

X Football Leagues Era (1990-2020)

From the early 1990s to 2020 Leagues have sprung up that have attempted to be the AFL / WFL / USFL of the Era. Some of these Leagues, such as the XFL of 2001 and 2020 have had quite an impact on the American Football scene, with big budgets, and Major TV contracts. Most of these Leagues, however, have failed to even start their first season, have defrauded investors, or just suffered from a lack of mainstream publicity in the Internet Era with so much Football and other sports available to view online.

United Football League 2009-2011

Stars Football League 2011-2013

FXFL Fall Experimental Football League 2014-2015

The Spring League 2017-Present

International League of American Football (Seasons): 1990 (W)

Professional Spring Football League (Seasons): 1993

Spring Football League (Seasons): 2000

XFL (Seasons): 2001

Stars Football League (Seasons): 2011 2012 2013

North American Football League (Seasons): 2016

Trinity Professional Spring Football League (Seasons): 2018

Alliance of American Football (Seasons): 2019

XFL (Seasons): 2020

Freedom Football League (Seasons): 2020

Major League Football (Seasons): 2020

X-League Extreme Football League (Seasons): 2020 (L)

Note: (W) Usually considered part of the World Football Leagues.

(L) Usually considered part of the Legends Football Leagues.

Arena / Indoor Football Leagues

About Arena / Indoor Football

Indoor Football, also known as Arena Football was developed in 1986 as an 8v8 form of Indoor American Football. After an initial few seasons where the game was developed with a 4 team league, a full seasons League with eventually over a dozen teams was developed in the 1990 which was considered by the Wall Street Journal to be a fifth major.

The Arena Football League over-expanded in the 2000s with a Minor League, and its importance (and number of teams) waned since it first experienced financial diffulties  in 2009, and it ceased operations after the 2019 season due to the legacy debt incurred.

There is now, however, Indoor Football Leagues all over America, all of which would now be considered Minor League or Semi-Pro (AAA, AA, or even A)

Indoor Football is played on a 50-yard field with two 8-yard endzones, and teams have 5 downs (attempts) to reach the endzone or the ball is turned over. 3 of those downs must be passing plays, making Indoor Football highly explosive and high scoring.

The main difference between Arena Football & Indoor Football is the rebound nets either side of the goalposts in Arena Football, which is the only part of the original patent given to the Arena Football League in 1989, that a subsequent ruling in 1998 ruled was copyright, the rest being Football already in other leagues.

Note: For Women’s Indoor Football Leagues, including both Serious Leagues such as the Super 8 Football League in Baja California (Mexico) and Lingerie/Legends Football Leagues (where the Women wear sexy apparel) see Women’s American Football

Note 2: The American grading system for Pro Leagues is 1. Major League, 2. AAA League, 3. AA League, 4. A League, 5. Semi-Pro State Leagues.

Equivalent to 1. Premier League / Major League Soccer, 2. EFL/USL Championship, 3. EFL/USL League 1, 4. EFL/USL League 2, and 5. National League/NPSL in the English and American Soccer System.

Note 3: League in Bold sometimes considered Major Football Leagues.

Major Arena Football Leagues

Arena Football League (Major National Leagues):

Arena Football League 1987-1991

Arena Football League 1992-2000

Arena Football League 2001-2008

Arena Football League 2010-2015

Arena Football League 2016-2019

Arena Football League (Seasons):


Legends Football Leagues

The Lingerie Bowl was first played in 2004 as a rival to the Super Bowl half-time show which was seen by many fans as two long and boring. It was aired on a rival TV network and featured two teams of scantily-clad Women. The Bowl eventually came a fully-fledged league in 2009. The owner of the League admitted it was aimed at beer-drinking college students and following claims of sexism the Lingerie was replaced by bicycle shorts and crop-tops, and the League renamed the Legends Football League.

Legends Football Leagues

United States Lingerie / Legends Football Leagues

Lingerie Bowl 2004-2009

Lingerie Football League 2009-2012

Legends Football League United States 2013-2019

World Lingerie / Legends Football Leagues

Lingerie Football League Canada 2012-13

Legends Football League | Australia 2013-2014

Pretty Girls Football League | Mexico 2017

Legends Football League United States (Seasons):


Women’s X-Leagues

X-League Extreme Football League (Seasons):




See individual articles on each League for References regards the text in each Era. [Links in Blue-Green]

Image References

Header Image

[1] Irish American Football Association (2018) Nostalgia – A look a some pictures from the archives [Internet] Available from:×768.jpg [Accessed 3 July 2018]

Featured Image

[2] NASL Jersey (2016) Adrian Young in action for the Philadelphia Eagles a versus the New York Giants Preseason 1971 [Internet] Available from:,%20Adrian%20Young%20(35),%20Giants.jpg [Accessed 9 April 2020]


[1] National Football League (2019) NFL Logo [Internet] Available from: data:image/png;base64,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 [Accessed 17 September 2019]
[2] Wikipedia (2018) All-America Football Conference Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 8 October 2018]
[3] Brands of the World (2018) LFA Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 1 August 2018]
[4] X-League (2020) X-Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 7 January 2020]
[5] Kids Encyclopedia facts | Kiddle (2019) Canadian Football League League facts for Kids [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 9 June 2019]
[6] Sports Logos History (2018) USFL Logo 1983-1985 [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 31 December 2019]
[7] Growth of a Game (2014) NFL Europe Logos [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 23 April 2018]
[8] Arena Football League (2019) Arena Football League Reveals New Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 17 September 2019]
[9] China Arena Football League (2019) CAFL-AFLG Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 3 December 2019]
[10] Wikipedia (2019) XFL 2020 Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 24 September 2019]
[11] 1000 Logos (2018) Legends Football League Logo {Internet] Available from: [Accessed 24 January 2020]
[12] American Football International (2019) Alliance of American Football Logo [Internet] Available from:×400.png [Accessed 3 February 2020]

Image References [Photos]
Header Image

[13] Irish American Football Association (2018) Nostalgia – A look a some pictures from the archives [Internet] Available from:×768.jpg [Accessed 3 July 2018]

Featured Image

[14] Irish Independent (2014) Tom Furlong and the NFL career that slipped away [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 2 April 2020]