NFL Franchise Year-by-Year Genealogy

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The roots of every NFL football team can be traced in this year-by-year NFL genealogy section. This detailed listing includes the year each team began play, franchise movement between cities, and NFL team name changes.

This NFL genealogy has been divided for convenience, so pick a year and begin your investigation of the history of NFL franchises.

1920[edit]

The American Professional Football Association was formally organized to begin play in fall of 1920. Jim Thorpe of Canton is elected APFA president and membership fee is set at $100 per franchise.

The original teams are:

Canton BulldogsCleveland TigersDayton TrianglesAkron ProfessionalsRochester (N.Y.) JeffersonsRock Island IndependentsMuncie FlyersDecatur StaleysChicago CardinalsHammond Pros

Later, the Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles and Detroit Heralds joined the league prior to the 1920 season.

The Chicago Tigers fold between the 1920 and 1921 seasons.

1921[edit]

The APFA is reorganized with Joe Carr elected league president The Decatur Staleys moved to Chicago but retain the name Staleys

Teams that join the APFA for the 1921 season: • Green Bay PackersCincinnati Celts (play 1921 season only) • Minneapolis MarinesEvansville Crimson GiantsTonawanda Kardex (AKA Lumbermen - play 1921 season only) • Washington Senators (play 1921 season only) • New York Brickleys Giants (play 1921 season only) • Louisville Brecks

Teams that fold between 1921 and 1922 seasons: • New York Brickleys GiantsWashington SenatorsTonawanda KardexCleveland TigersMuncie FlyersCincinnati CeltsDetroit Heralds

1922[edit]

The APFA changes its name to the National Football League The Chicago Staleys change their name to the Chicago Bears

Teams that join the NFL for the 1922 season: • Milwaukee Badgers • Marion Oorang IndiansRacine LegionToledo Maroons • Teams that fold between the 1922 and 1923 seasons: • Columbus PanhandlesEvansville Crimson Giants

1923[edit]

Teams that enter the NFL for the 1923 season: • Columbus TigersDuluth KelleysSt. Louis All-Stars (play only the 1923 season) • Cleveland Indians (play only the 1923 season)

NFL teams that fold between the 1923 and 1924 seasons: • Canton BulldogsCleveland IndiansLouisville Brecks • Marion Oorang IndiansRacine LegionSt. Louis All-StarsToledo Maroons

1924[edit]

Buffalo All-Americans change their name to Buffalo Bisons

Teams that join the NFL for the 1924 season: • Cleveland BulldogsFrankford Yellow JacketsKansas City BluesKenosha Maroons (play 1924 season only)

Teams that fold between the 1924 and 1925 seasons: • Kenosha MaroonsMinneapolis MarinesColumbus Tigers

1925[edit]

The Kansas City Blues change their name to the Kansas City Cowboys The Canton Bulldogs re-enter the NFL after an inactive 1924 season Racine Legion is inactive for 1925 season

Teams that join the NFL for the 1925 season: • New York GiantsProvidence Steam RollerPottsville MaroonsDetroit Panthers

Teams that fold between the 1925 and 1926 seasons: • Cleveland BulldogsRochester Jeffersons

The Rock Island Independents leave the NFL for the rival AFL at end of the season

1926[edit]

The Buffalo Bisons change their name to the Buffalo Rangers

Teams that join the NFL for the 1926 season: • Hartford BluesBrooklyn LionsLos Angeles Buccaneers • The Akron Pros change their name to the Akron Indians • The Racine Tornadoes (formerly the Racine Legion) re-enter the NFL • The Duluth Kelleys become the Duluth Eskimos • The Louisville Colonels (formerly the Louisville Brecks) re-enter the NFL as a road team out of Chicago

Teams that fold between the 1926 and 1927 seasons: • Kansas City CowboysLos Angeles BuccaneersBuffalo RangersDetroit PanthersHartford BluesBrooklyn LionsMilwaukee BadgersAkron IndiansRacine TornadoesColumbus TigersCanton BulldogsHammond ProsLouisville Colonels

1927[edit]

Teams that join the NFL for the 1927 season: • Cleveland Bulldogs (play only the 1927 season) • New York Yankees

Teams that fold between the 1927 and 1928 seasons: • Buffalo BisonCleveland BulldogsDuluth Eskimos

1928[edit]

The Detroit Wolverines are granted an NFL franchise but play only the 1928 season (the Wolverines have the best lifetime winning percentage (.778) of any franchise in NFL history)

The New York Yankees fold at end of the season

1929[edit]

Teams that join the NFL for the 1929 season: • Buffalo Bisons (play 1929 season only) • Minneapolis Red JacketsStaten Island StapletonsOrange TornadoesBoston Bulldogs (play only 1929 season -- the Bulldogs were in reality the Pottsville Maroons relocated, inactive for the 1928 season)

Teams that fold between the 1929 and 1930 seasons: • Dayton TrianglesBuffalo BisonsBoston Bulldogs

1930[edit]

Teams that join the NFL for the 1930 season: • Portsmouth SpartansBrooklyn Dodgers • The Orange Tornadoes change their name to the Newark Tornadoes

Teams that fold between the 1930 and 1931 seasons: • Minneapolis Red JacketsNewark Tornadoes

1931[edit]

The Cleveland Indians join the NFL (play 1931 season only) The Frankford Yellow Jackets disband during 1932 season

Teams that fold between the 1931 and 1932 seasons: • Cleveland IndiansProvidence Steam Roller

1932[edit]

The Boston Braves join the NFL for the 1932 season The Staten Island Stapletons fold between the 1932 and 1933 seasons

1933[edit]

The Boston Braves changed their name to the Boston Redskins

Teams that join the NFL for the 1933 season: • Pittsburgh PiratesCincinnati RedsPhiladelphia Eagles

1934[edit]

The NFL splits into divisions as follows:

EASTERN DIVISION

WESTERN DIVISION

The Portsmouth Spartans move to Detroit and are named the Detroit Lions. The Cincinnati Reds are allowed to move to St. Louis and become the St. Louis Gunners, folding after 1934 season.

1937[edit]

The Cleveland Rams are awarded an NFL franchise in the Western Division The Boston Redskins move to Washington

1941[edit]

The Pittsburgh Pirates are renamed the Pittsburgh Steelers

1943[edit]

The Cleveland Rams suspend operations for the 1943 season The Eagles and Steelers merge for one season to the Phil-Pitt Steagles

1944[edit]

The Cardinals and Steelers merge for 1944 season. They were called Card-Pitt and play in the Western Division

The Brooklyn Dodgers were renamed the Brooklyn Tigers The Boston Yanks are granted an NFL franchise and added to the Eastern Division

1945[edit]

The Brooklyn Tigers merge into the Boston Yanks merge for one year

1946[edit]

The Cleveland Rams move to Los Angeles The Brooklyn team was formally disbanded. The owner went on to launch the AAFC, a rival league.

1949[edit]

The Boston Yanks move to New York and become the New York Bulldogs for the 1949 season

The AAFC dissolves after the 1949 season and the Browns, 49ers and Colts move into the NFL for the 1950 season. The remaining AAFC players are spread throughout the NFL via draft.

1950[edit]

The New York Bulldogs change their name to the New York Yanks

The NFL establishes the following alignment:

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

The Baltimore Colts folds after 1950 season

1952[edit]

The New York Yankees fold; the NFL sells the assets of the Yanks to a Dallas group to become the Dallas Texans and begin play in 1952

The Dallas franchise folds, is taken over by the NFL midseason and plays out the rest of their season as a road team

1953[edit]

The NFL formally reinstates the dead Dallas Texans franchise as the Baltimore Colts

1959[edit]

The AFL is formally organized with the charter members:

EASTERN DIVISION

WESTERN DIVISION

A franchise in the Twin Cities is to be added before play beings in 1960

1960[edit]

The Dallas Cowboys franchise awarded by the NFL to begin play in the Eastern Conference in 1960

Twin Cities is also awarded a franchise by the NFL, which is later named the Minnesota Vikings and begins play in the Western Conference in 1961

The AFL Minnesota team is withdrawn due to the planned NFL expansion there in the Twin Cities

The Oakland Raiders are awarded an AFL franchise into the Western Division to replace Minnesota

The Chicago Cardinals move to St. Louis

The AFL begins league play

1961[edit]

The Los Angeles Chargers move to San Diego

The AFL approves expansion into Atlanta for 1961

The AFL approves expansion into Chicago for 1961

1963[edit]

The Titans are renamed the Jets

The Texans move to Kansas City and are named the Chiefs

1965[edit]

The NFL awarded Atlanta a new franchise to begin play in the Eastern Conference in 1966. Miami is awarded a franchise by the AFL and is named the Dolphins by contest. It is to begin play in the Eastern Division in 1966.

The NFL and AFL effectively merge with plans to go to a 2 conference 4 division setup in 1970 or after. New Orleans is awarded a franchise by the NFL, to be later named the Saints and to begin play in the Eastern Conference in 1967

Atlanta is moved to the Western Conference. For the 1967 season, the conferences will be split up as follows:

EASTERN CONFERENCE CAPITOL DIVISION

CENTURY DIVISION

WESTERN CONFERENCE CENTRAL DIVISION

COASTAL DIVISION

New York will move to the Capitol Division for 1968, then back to the Century Division for 1969. Likewise, New Orleans will move to the Century Division for 1968, then back to the Capitol Division for 1969.

1967[edit]

The Cincinnati Bengals franchise was awarded by the AFL to begin play in the Western Division in 1968.

1970[edit]

The NFL and AFL merge their schedules and go to the current two conference, six division format. The AFL becomes the AFC with the Steelers, Browns and Colts moved there from the NFL. The rest of the NFL becomes the NFC. This is the only time a rival league has successfully merged with the NFL.

The NFL is now aligned as follows (modern format):

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

EAST DIVISION

CENTRAL DIVISION

WEST DIVISION

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

EAST DIVISION

CENTRAL DIVISION

WEST DIVISION

1971[edit]

The Boston Patriots move to Foxboro and are renamed the New England Patriots

1974[edit]

Tampa Bay is awarded a franchise by the NFL and begins play in 1976 in the AFC West and switch to the NFC Central in 1977 Seattle is awarded a franchise by the NFL and begins play in 1976 in the NFC West and switch to the AFC West in 1977

1976[edit]

Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin play

1977[edit]

Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers switch to current conferences (Seahawks to the AFC West and Buccaneers to NFC Central)

1982[edit]

The Oakland Raiders move to Los Angeles

1984[edit]

The Baltimore Colts move to Indianapolis

1988[edit]

The St. Louis Cardinals move to Phoenix

1993[edit]

The Carolina Panthers are awarded an NFL franchise to begin play in 1995 The Jacksonville Jaguars are awarded an NFL franchise to begin play in 1995

1994[edit]

The Phoenix Cardinals are renamed the Arizona Cardinals

1995[edit]

The Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis The Los Angeles Raiders move back to Oakland

1996[edit]

The Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore to begin play in 1996 as the Baltimore Ravens (however, the city of Cleveland retains the rights to the Browns name, logo, team colors and memorabilia rights)

1997[edit]

The Houston Oilers move to Memphis and become the Tennessee Oilers

1998[edit]

Cleveland granted franchise, to be named the Cleveland Browns, and will begin play in 1999 The Tennessee Oilers move from Memphis to Nashville. The New England Patriots announce their intention to move to Hartford


See also[edit]