A Basic Overview of the National Football League
Training Goals for this Lesson
• By the end of lesson you should be able to answer questions about
• The History of the NFL
• League structure
• The typical league year
• The commissioner and his powers
• Team structure
• There will be an assessment at the end of this lesson that you will need to pass to
move on to the next lesson.
National Football League
• The National Football League is one of the largest governing bodies of
sports in the world.
• The NFL governs and maintains the rules for football a sport played by two
teams on a field that is 360 foot long and 160 foot wide.
• Each team has an offense and a defense with 11 players on each side
meaning that only 22 players are allowed on the field at the same time.
• According to Forbes Magazine the NFL made roughly 9 billion dollars in
2013 and is expected to increase by almost 20% in the next five years
making it the most profitable sport in the world.
• The NFL was founded in 1920 under the name “The American Professional Football
• The first league included 10 teams from 4 different states
• In 1922 the APFA was forced to restructure and became what we know as the
National Football League.
• The first championship game was held in 1933 between the Chicago Bears and the
NewYork Giants in which the Bears won 23-21.
• A rival “American Football League” was founded in 1960 but was eventually forced
to merge with the NFL after ten years in 1970.
• The NFL continued to grow until there was finally 32 teams operating two major
• The NFL has two major conferences:
• The American Football Conference (AFC)
• The National Football Conference (NFC)
• There are four divisions in each
conference with four teams in each.
• Each conferences has a north, south,
east, and west division.
• The league year typically starts in the beginning of March.
• The first day of the league year is when teams may begin signing free agents (players no
longer under contract).
• The next event in the league year is the draft which is held in late April or early May.
• In between the draft and the beginning of the preseason the teams are allowed to
hold a few organized team activities (OTAs).
• The typical OTAs are a rookie (drafted and undrafted first year players) camp and a mini
camp that is no longer than three days long that includes all team players.
• In late July and early August teams conduct a two to three week training camp in
which the players learn the offensive and defense plays and packages that they will
use during the year.
• Teams are allowed 96 players on their rosters at this point.
• At least during the last week or so of training camp the preseason begins.
• The preseason is currently four games in which the teams evaluate their players
and make the roster cuts to 53 players.
• These games have no bearing on standing.They are merely meant as tuning games in
which the team can learn and evaluate its players.
• After the preseason is the actual season.
• The season is 16 games long in a 17 week period.
• Each team is schedule one week in which they do not play called the bye week.
• The season determines the seeding for the post season.
• The teams with the best record in each division get an automatic pass into the post season.
• Two more teams with the best records in each of the conferences are then placed into the
postseason asWild Card teams.
• Each conference has 6 teams in the post season and they play each other in a single
• The two teams with the best records in each conference are given a bye
week during the first week of the postseason so they can rest.
• The two best teams in each division meet in their ConferenceChampionship
game and the winner of this game moves on to the Super Bowl.
• The winner of the Super Bowl is crowned the league champion for the year.
• The highest executive of the
NFL is the commissioner.
• The current commissioner is
Roger Goodell who has served
• The commissioner is essentially
responsible for running the
• The commissioner has the power to
• Resolve disputes between owners, players, coaches, officials, and league executives
• Hire and fire all league employees
• Discipline owners, players, coaches, and officials for violating league rules or operate with
conduct detrimental to the league.
• Hand out fines up to $500,000
• Take away draft picks from teams
• In sum, the commissioner is the judge, jury, and executioner of the NFL, any and all
decisions come from him. He is the most powerful man in the sport.
Team Structure: NFL Owners
• NFL Owners are basically the bank for the team.
• Their money is what is used to pay the players.
• Some of them can be very hands on with football operations or they can let
their General Managers take care of the football operations.
• They meet once or twice a year and vote on new rules or changes to old
Team Structure: General Manager
• Typically, the general manager is in charge of most of the decisions regarding the
• They are responsible for hiring the head coach, the head of football operations
(scouting department), head scout, area scouts, and assistant scouts.
• They are the ones who deal with agents during free agency and usually are the
ones who negotiate the contracts with all players on their team.
• They have final say on who the team drafts.
• They have to fill roster spots and make decisions on which players go on injured
Team Structure: Scouting Department
• The Head of Football Operations is the general manager’s right hand man.
• He assists the GM in anyway possible and helps organize the team’s scouts during the
• Head Scout is the longest tenured scout with the team his responsibilities include
assisting the head of football operations and teaching the lower levels scouts their
• Areas scouts are assigned to specific regions during the collegiate season and are
responsible for gathering information on all players eligible for the draft in their
Team Structure: Coaching Staff
• The Head Coach is usually hired by the GM and/or manager and he is
responsible for putting together the rest of the coaching staff.
• He is responsible for building a game plan each week during the season and to put his
team in the best possible position to win.
• The offensive and defensive coordinators are responsible for assisting the
head coach in building the game plan for their side of the ball.
• The position coaches help training, motivate, and teach the position players
the proper way to play and help them better themselves.
• This concludes the first lesson of the NFL Scouting Initiative. Please
complete the assessment to move on to the next topic:The NFL Draft.