National Football League

The NFL (National Football League) is one of the, wealthiest and most powerful sports organizations in the world. Many of the single franchises or teams are worth $200-300 million each. As such, each team should be thought of as a major corporation.

American-style football, of which the NFL maintains a complete monopoly over the elite professional ranks, has its roots in English rugby, which was played in U.S. Eastern colleges and universities in the nineteenth century. However, rugby did not have features in keeping with American cultural norms. So U.S. football arose out of norms consistent with American society, such as clearly measured possession of territory and the expansion of frontiers through conquering new land.  

Walter Camp, a Yale player, devised the rules of the American game. In 1880, he introduced “downs” into the game, or breaks so that teams could re-assess their position and prepare for the next attack. This was in stark contrast to rugby’s non-stop and more flowing play. This move would years later be crucial to the sport’s success.

With natural breaks in play, the game would be one conducive to American commercial television, which relies on advertisement breaks for the generation of revenue. Equally important was the later inclusion of the forward pass into the game. This made the game appear more offensive, and the famous “Hail Mary” long pass is to this day one of the most dramatic plays in sport.  

Football’s success as a dominant American sport (alongside baseball) was secured in the 1960s with some important contracts with television networks. The ABC television network sponsored a rival American Football League to compete with the other dominant National Football League. ABC television did not hide the fact that the rival league was created for the sole purpose of creating more leverage with advertisers. After gaining greater legitimacy and earning more revenue, the up-start AFL was able to negotiate independently with other television networks and sign on big-name players. The most notable was star quarterback Joe Namath. With the AFL rising as a legitimate business competitor, the NFL and AFL negotiated a merger, resulting in the NFL league, as it is known to this day. Since the merger, the NFL has maintained almost a complete monopoly over American professional football.  

Football’s success, then, has been a reflection of the ideals of American society and, more specifically, of American-style commercial enterprise. The league’s success has, in no small part, been due to the relationship between the media and the sport. In a sense, football is a perfect example of a modern media-generated sport, successfully linking American norms and values with a sport tailor-made for commercial profit.

1 thought on “National Football League

  • wealthy

    having a lot of money, possessions etc
    ᅳsynonym rich
    very/extremely/immensely/fabulously etc wealthy
    He left as a poor, working class boy and returned as an extremely wealthy man.
    the wealthy nations of the world


    American English a professional sports team

    big company




    the usual or normal situation, way of doing something etc
    be/become the norm

    Short term contracts are now the norm with some big companies.
    Joyce’s style of writing was a striking departure from the literary norm .


    be consistent with something
    if a fact, idea etc is consistent with another one, it seems to match it
    Her injuries are consistent with having fallen from the building.

    The results are consistent with earlier research.



    land that is owned or controlled by a particular country, ruler, or military force : 
    Hong Kong became Chinese territory in 1997.
    occupied/enemy/disputed/hostile territory
    The plane was flying over enemy territory.


    an area where people have never lived before, that not much is known about, especially in the western US before the 20th century
    a novel about a family’s struggle on the American frontier

    space, the final frontier



    to make a judgment about a person or situation after thinking carefully about it  SYN  judge
    assess the impact/extent/effectiveness etc of something
    a report to assess the impact of advertising on children
    assess what/how etc
    The technique is being tried in classrooms to assess what effects it may have.
    be assessed as something
    Many of the adults were assessed as having learning difficulties.


    unpleasantly clear and impossible to avoid
    ᅳsynonym harshThe movie shows the stark realities of life in the ghetto.The extreme poverty of the local people is in stark contrast to the wealth of the tourists.We are faced with a stark choice.a stark reminder of life under communist rule


    a difference between people, ideas, situations, things etc that are being compared
    While there are similarities in the two cultures, there are also great contrasts.
    contrast between
    the economic and social contrasts between the poor and the rich
    contrast with
    The marble is smooth and polished, making a strong contrast with the worn stonework around it.
    by contrast (to/with)
    The birth rate for older women has declined, but, by contrast, births to teenage mothers have increased.
    in contrast (to/with)
    The stock lost 60 cents a share, in contrast to last year, when it gained 21 cents.
    (in) stark/marked/sharp etc contrast to something
    The winter heatwave in California is a stark contrast to the below-freezing temperatures on the East Coast.
    The spirited mood on Friday was in sharp contrast to the tense atmosphere last week.
    The approach to learning at this school stands in marked contrast to the traditional methods used at other schools nearby.


    something that is crucial is extremely important, because everything else depends on it
    crucial to
    This aid money is crucial to the government’s economic policies.
    crucial in/to doing something
    The work of monks was crucial in spreading Christianity.
    play a crucial role/part in something
    The city of Mycenae played a crucial role in the history of Greece.
    The conservation of tropical forests is of crucial importance .

    be conducive to something


    if a situation is conducive to something such as work, rest etc, it provides conditions that make it easy for you to work etc
    an environment conducive to learning

    Another Source
    likely to produce; helping (an esp. desirable result) to happen:

    The atmosphere in the conference room was hardly conducive to frank and friendly discussions.
    The friendly tone of the meeting seemed conducive to finding a solution to the problem.


    the process of producing something or making something happen
    ᅳsynonym production
    generation of
    the generation of electricity


    the act of including someone or something in a larger group or set, or the fact of being included in one
    inclusion in
    His inclusion in the team has caused controversy.
    photos chosen  for inclusion in  the magazine
    inclusion of
    the inclusion of early recordings on the CD


    American English relating to getting points and winning a game, rather than stopping the other team from getting points
    ᅳopposite defensive

    the Jets’ offensive strategy


    more powerful, important, or noticeable than other people or things
    ᅳsee also dominate
    The dominant male gorilla is the largest in the group.

    Japan became dominant in the mass market during the 1980s.
    its dominant position within the group


    the sole person, thing etc is the only one
    ᅳsynonym only
    the sole American in the room
    Griffiths is the sole survivor of the crash.
    The story was published with the sole purpose of selling newspapers.



    influence that you can use to make people do what you want : 
    diplomatic leverage by the US


    acceptable or allowed by law : 
    Their business operations are perfectly legitimate.

    legitimacy   noun  [ uncountable ] : 
    Opponents have questioned the legitimacy of the ruling.



    to discuss something in order to reach an agreement, especially in business or politics
    negotiate with
    The government refuses to negotiate with terrorists.
    negotiate an agreement/contract etc

    Union leaders have negotiated an agreement for a shorter working week.
    His first aim is to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table (=used to refer to official discussions) .


    the player in American football who directs the team’s attacking play and passes the ball to the other players at the start of each attack.


    the joining together of two or more companies or organizations to form one larger one
    merger of/between
    a proposed merger between two of the largest software companies
    merger with
    There has been a lot of talk about a merger with another leading bank.
    merger negotiations
    the two companies’ merger was approved by the shareholders


    to discuss something in order to reach an agreement, especially in business or politics
    negotiate with
    The government refuses to negotiate with terrorists.
    negotiate an agreement/contract etc Union leaders have negotiated an agreement for a shorter working week.His first aim is to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table (=used to refer to official discussions)


    if a company or government has a monopoly of a business or political activity, it has complete control of it so that other organizations cannot compete with it
    monopoly of
    They are demanding an end to the Communist Party’s monopoly of power . the state monopoly of television
    monopoly on/in
    For years Bell Telephone had a monopoly on telephone services in the US. a monopoly in copper trading


    generally accepted standards of social behaviour
    terrorists who violate the norms of civilized society

    social/cultural etc norms

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