209: First College Football Game is Played

An unknown football team from around the turn of the 20th century. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
An unknown football team from around the turn of the 20th century. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1869, the first college football game was played between what is now Princeton and Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Here are some things you may not have known about the early history of football.

In addition to being considered the first American football game, some see it as the first college soccer game because of the rules the game was played under.

The rules matched two teams of 25 players, who attempted to kick the ball into the other team’s goal. The ball could be advanced by kicking or hitting it with the feet, hands, head or sides. Rutgers won the first game by a score of 6-4.

By 1880, Walter Camp, the captain of the Yale team had changed the rules to reduce the number of players to 11-a-side and instituted the line of scrimmage instead of the rugby-style scrum.

In 1882, the concept of limiting a team to three downs to advance the ball five yards was introduced — marking the separation point of American football from rugby.

In 1905, 19 players were killed due to injuries suffered in football games, which led President Theodore Roosevelt to threaten to ban the game. This led to the creation of what is now the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA, and the forward pass.

By 1918, the game had developed into roughly the game we know today.

The National Football League was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association

In a poll in 2014, 46 percent of Americans chose some form of American football as their favorite sport. Professional football passed baseball as America’s most popular sport in 1985.

Our question, which team won the first NFL game that went to overtime?

Today is Constitution Day in the Dominican Republic and Tajikistan.

It’s unofficially National Nachos Day and Saxophone Day.

It’s the birthday of composer John Philip Sousa, basketball inventor James Naismith and football player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.


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