Another exciting year of professional football is just ahead and the NFL has made some changes to make it a better one for fans. This is the 87th NFL football season which will culminate with SuperBowl XLI at Dolphins Stadium in Miami.
Attendance at NFL games has been at an all-time high and television broadcast agreements have been lucrative so these changes aren't solely for monetary gain for the league. The changes seem to appeal to all NFL fans Cool Base Josh Donaldson Jersey
, and the 2006 season will even be launched with a game featuring two perennial winning teams, the Miami Dolphins and last year's SuperBowl champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A new scheduling system is being used this year. During the last 7 weeks of league play, the NFL is using a flexible scheduling method. This was in response to a problem that's plagued the league for years. Often late in the season, games between teams not in contention for post season play would be televised during prime time timeslots. Needless to say that that didn't respond to fan interest or viewership, so the new scheduling will allow the league to feature the hottest teams, or most popular teams, and those that fans are interested in watching, particularly during the key Sunday and Monday night time slots. The start times of games will be affected and games may be moved from Sunday afternoon to Sunday nights.
2006 is the first year of new television broadcast deals between the NFL and CBS and Fox networks. CBS and Fox signed new 6 year agreements that will have them televise Sunday games. ESPN however Cool Base R.A. Dickey Jersey
, will take over broadcasting Monday Night football games. The league will broadcast eight specialty games between Thanksgiving and the end of the season.
A few rule changes have come about in response to injuries during the 2005 season. Players cannot hit a passer's knees or below their knees unless they are blocked into him. Groups of players cannot dance in the endzone after a touchdown, but players can spike the ball or dunk it through the goalposts. Player's are not allowed to tackle another player from behind using the "horse collar" tackle and defensive players cannot line up directly over the ball snapper during field goal and extra point attempts.
The 2006 season also features new uniforms for the officials and a new NFL game ball. On-field game officials will wear long pants during the cold winter months. The game ball will now be known as "The Duke" in honor of the late owner of the New York Giants, Wellington Mara. The game balls will continue to be made by Wilson Sports who have been providing footballs for the NFL for 65 years.
Evolution of the National Football League
The first professional football game in the United States took place in Latrobe Pennsylvania in 1895, yet the NFL was not formed until 1920 where it was known during its first two years as the American Professional Football Association. During the 1920's a player named Fred Grange of the Chicago Bears provided some exciting play and stimulated fan support for the league which until then was considered second rate compared to college football.
During the 1936 season, the NFL instituted a player draft and many talented players signed with NFL teams including the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.
After the second world war, the league instituted a new rule that allowed players to be substituted between plays. This is how teams were allowed to send separate 11 man defensive and offensive units onto the field. In 1946, the All American Football Conference was created to compete with the National Football League. The new league included the San Francisco 49ers Cool Base Troy Tulowitzki Jersey
, the Baltimore Colts and the Los Angeles Dons. In 1950, the two leagues merged creating two divisions: the NFC and the AFC. This began a prosperous era for the NFL including television broadcast deals in the mid 1950's which brought the game to a national level. New stars such as Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns, and Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts became household names. This is the era where NFL merchandise began to appear.
In 1966, the era of the SuperBowl began. The playoff format was changed from a single championship game to a four team tournament. During the 1970 season, the league was composed of 6 divisions which created 6 first place teams. To create an 8-team championship tournament, two wild card spots were created. In 1978, the league expanded to 10 teams.
In 2002 with the addition of the Houston Texans, the NFL created and 8 division league. The playoffs were a 12 team tournament that began with a wild card round. The top two division winners receive a bye to the division championships.
Through the years, a number of teams have enjoyed particular success in winning the SuperBowl championship. The Green Bay Packers lead with 12 championships but only one SuperBowl win. The Chicago Bears similarly have 9 championships since 1920 and only one SuperBowl win. In the modern era since the introduction of the SuperBowl Championship game Cool Base Joe Carter Jersey
, the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Washington Redskins have dominated league championships. The New England Patriots have become a dominant team since 2000 with three championships.
Overall attendance at NFL games has grown from 4.6 million in 1965 to more than 17 million during the 2005 season. Attendance has grown every year to where an average 68,000 fans attend games, which is near 90 per cent of seating capacity. That is an amazing achievement for any sporting league.
So get involved in the coming 2006 season by showing your support for your local or favorite team. Plenty of NFL merchandise for your and your kids is available from a number of NFL shop retailers. Online NFL merchandise sellers can pr