Touchdown! A “Genealogy” Timeline of NFL Teams

By Diane Haddad
(Library of Congress)

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)

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.

NFL Team Genealogies

Racine Cardinals1913Chicago Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals

Phoenix Cardinals1988Arizona Cardinals1994
Atlanta Falcons1965
Baltimore Ravens1996
Buffalo Bills1959
Carolina Panthers1993
Decauter Staleys1919Chicago Staleys1921Chicago Bears1922
Cincinnati Bengals1967
Cleveland Browns1944
Dallas Cowboys1960
Denver Broncos1959
Portsmouth (OH) Spartans1930Detroit Lions1934
Green Bay Packers1921
Houston Texans2002
Baltimore Colts1953Indianapolis Colts1984
Jacksonville Jaguars1993
Dallas Texans1959Kansas City Chiefs1963
Los Angeles Chargers1959San Diego Chargers 1961Los Angeles Chargers2017
Cleveland Rams1936Los Angeles Rams1946St. Louis Rams1995Los Angeles Rams2016
Miami Dolphins1965
Minnesota Vikings1960
Boston Patriots1959New England Patriots1971
New Orleans Saints1966
New York Giants1925
New York Titans1959New York Jets1963
Oakland Raiders1960Los Angeles Raiders1982Oakland Raiders1994
Philadelphia Eagles1933
Pittsburgh Pirates1933Pittsburg Steelers1940
San Francisco 49ers1944
Seattle Seahawks1974
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1974
Houston Oilers1959Tennessee Oilers1997Tennessee Titans1999
Boston Braves1932Washington Redskins1937

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.

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NFL team genealogy chart