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Which teams were the first in the NFL?


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    The NFL traces its origins back to 1920, when the now-dominant sports league had an entirely different name and just two of the franchises that eventually became known to modern fans.

    Originally known as the American Professional Football Association, the league began as a collection of teams scattered across a few states. Five of the original organizations were in Ohio, including one in Canton, the eventual home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    The APFA had 14 teams in its inaugural season: the Akron Pros, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs, Racine Cardinals, Chicago Tigers, Cleveland Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, Detroit Heralds, Hammond Pros, Muncie Flyers, Rock Island Independents and Rochester Jeffersons.

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    Canton-Bulldogs-1923

    NFL Champions Canton Bulldogs in 1923.

    The Akron Pros were the first-ever league champions, amassing an 8-0-3 record, according to the Los Angeles Times. Legendary athlete Jim Thorpe played for the Bulldogs and also served as the APFA’s first president.

    Of the 14 original franchises, just two survived through the present day. The Cardinals eventually relocated to St. Louis and then again to Phoenix. The team is still active in the NFC West division.

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    Akron-Pros-1910

    Akron Pros

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    The Decatur Staleys were renamed the Chicago Staleys after one season. In 1922, the Chicago Staleys became the Chicago Bears. An NFL mainstay, the Bears play in the NFC North division.

    The APFA changed its name to the National Football League in 1922. The league’s power grew when it merged with its chief rival, the American Football League, in 1970.

    The modern-day NFL earns more than $16 billion in annual revenue.

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