Facts and information about the AFL

  • The American Football League (AFL) was founded in 1959 and operated from 1960 through 1969 before it merged with the NFL.
  • One now normal football game feature that was first introduced by the AFL was a large clock visible to fans that showed how much time was left in the game. Until that time, the NFL kept time on the wristwatch of one of the officials.
  • AFL teams were the first to put players’ names on the backs of jerseys. This not only helped fans and announcers, but made the game more TV friendly.
  • Three other unrelated leagues formed previously as the AFL; one in 1926, one in 1936-1937, and one in 1940-1941.
  • The AFL representative won Super Bowls III and IV against the more established NFL.
  • The first AFL Championship game (won by the Oilers over the Chargers) was played on New Year’s Day, 1961.
  • The decision Joe Namath made to play for the New York Jets of the AFL instead of the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL, both teams had drafted him in their respective drafts, is considered to be one of the contributing factors behind the AFL-NFL merger taking place.
  • The AFL’s first Commissioner was Joe Foss, he would hold that position until 1966 when former Raiders Head Coach and future owner Al Davis would become Commissioner of the AFL. Davis would resign the job of Commissioner in protest after the merger of the two leagues was announced, as he was against it.
  • The agreement to merge the AFL and the NFL into one league was negotiated by Tex Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys and Lamar Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs. It was agreed to in 1966, and though the leagues would now draft players together and play a Championship game against each other, they wouldn’t completely merge until 1970.
  • The last AFL game ever played was the AFL All-Star Game on January 17, 1970. The Western All-Stars, led by Chargers Quarterback and game MVP John Hadl, defeated the Eastern All-Stars by a score of 26-3.
  • The AFL remains as the only league to ever have challenged the NFL completely successfully. All ten AFL teams were merged into the NFL and all player and team statistics, team histories, and win-loss records were integrated into NFL records and statistics.
  • The AFL introduced the two point conversion to professional football thirty-four years before the NFL would decide on its own to institute it to their game.
  • The AFL was first to put revenue sharing into practice where all the teams shared the television and ticket revenue equally.
  • Four non-AFL teams owe their existence, at least in part, to the AFL; the Minnesota Vikings were awarded an NFL franchise in exchange for not joining the AFL, the Dallas Cowboys were awarded a franchise in 1960 to compete against the then Dallas Texans who would eventually become the Kansas City Chiefs., the Falcons were awarded to owner Rankin Smith as a way of persuading him to not purchase the Miami Dolphins, and the New Orleans Saints were awarded a franchise In what amounted to a backroom deal with Louisiana politicians involved with the NFL’s antitrust lawsuit.
  • The Sunday following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the AFL would vote to cancel games while the NFL would elect to play them.

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