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What to Watch: Michael on Thursday Night Football

Tonight is my first Thursday night game of the season behind the Fox Sports desk and I can’t wait. It’s so great to see my boys, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long, on Sundays during the season; and now I get to talk shop with them on Thursday, too. I love the energy, I love the excitement, and I’m looking forward to bringing you all a great evening of Thursday Night Football.

This season is pretty special, too, because it marks the 100th season of the game. (Remember that great commercial I was lucky enough to be in earlier this year?) In honor of 10 decades of the game, we’ve compiled a few fun facts about the history of the gridiron.

  • In 1869, Rutgers and Princeton University played what is often referred to as “the first” college football game (it was called “soccer football” at the time, using modified London Football Association rules).
  • In 1876, a Yale rugby player named Walter Camp helped author the first rules for American football; he would become known as “the father of American football.” 
  • The first professional football player was a man named William “Pudge” Heffelfinger. In 1892, he was paid $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association in a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club (Pudge’s team won). 
  • The NFL was founded in 1920, and had previously been known as the American Professional Football Association. 
  • The oldest NFL franchise is the Green Bay Packers: Established in 1919, the then Green Bay Acme Packers joined the NFL in 1921.
  • The first televised football game was in 1939, between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers to 1,000 television sets in New York.
  • Until 1939, helmets were not mandatory for football players
  • The Chicago Bears are the only football that’s not changed its name or city since the NFL was formed in 1922. 
  • In 1941, Elmer Layden was named the first commissioner of the National Football League.
  • In the United States, the Super Bowl is the most-watched television event.
  • The Wilson Sporting Goods Company is the official football supplier of the NFL, and has been since 1941. 
  • The oldest rivalry in the history of the league is that between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, who have “rivaled” 198 times.