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The game we call "football" is indigenous to North America. It did not have one inventor, rather, it developed gradually from soccer to rugby, to "rugby football", to football.
As football developed into the way we know it today, it took on many rule changes. In the late 1800’s athletic clubs took up the sport, and professional football can be traced as far back as 1892. It was centered in Pennsylvania and then spread to Ohio. There the league that became known as the "National Football League" was formed [in 1920].
The NFL can be more fully understood if we trace the beginnings of the roots of "football". Soccer is called football on other continents, it’s the most popular sport in the world today. Rugby is also played almost everywhere, the byproduct of British imperialism. American football is a cousin of these games, and they all involve, in one way or another, kicking an object up and down a field. Kicking games are thought to have existed for 2,000 years. Kicking and throwing objects for recreation in America are as old as America itself. In the latter part of the 18th century this haphazard "kicking game" assumed a place with fisticuffs, wrestling matches, and drinking bouts, enjoyed by undergraduates as a means of relief from the severe mental discipline of college life.
Two important steps in the evolution of football occurred in England.
First, Rugby was invented. Then in 1823 a student at the Rugby School [- William Webb Ellis - ] picked up the ball during a soccer game and ran with it. The rules forbade advancing the ball in any way except kicking it, and many people were outraged at Ellis for breaking the rules. Ellis became the subject of countless juvenile stories of young men who weren’t afraid to go against the mainstream of opinion. A photograph of the plaque at Rugby College commemorating Ellis’ achievement is virtually a requisite in any recollection of football history. Eventually, independent [o...