Fans of American football will be glued to their TVs Sunday for Superbowl LIII, which pits the New England Patriots against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Patriots started as the Boston Patriots in 1959, when the final version of the American Football League (AFL) was being organized. The Rams’ journey began in Cleveland in 1936, when the franchise joined an earlier version of the AFL. Since then, the team has bounced around, with stints in Los Angeles (1946–1994, 2016–present) and St. Louis (1995–2015).
NFL History Crash Course
The NFL was founded as the American Professional Football Association in 1920; it renamed itself the National Football League two years later. Two of its 10 charter teams still exist: the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears) and Racine Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals).
In 1969, the NFL and AFL merged. The eight AFL charter teams joined the NFL and all still exist:
- New York Titans (now the New York Jets)
- Boston Patriots (now the New England Patriots)
- Buffalo Bills
- Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans)
- Los Angeles Chargers (the San Diego Chargers from 1961 to 2016)
- Denver Broncos
- Oakland Raiders (the Los Angeles Raiders from 1982 to 1993)
- Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs)
NFL Team Genealogies
The roots of some NFL teams have as many twists and turns as your family tree does, with name changes and moves from town to town. This football history timeline shows the “parent teams” of today’s NFL teams, their migrations, and the years they were born. It lists teams alphabetically by current franchise names, which are in all caps.
If you’re after records of ancestors who played football (or other sports), whether on a community, school or professional level, find tips in our athletic ancestors research guide.