History: NFL Football - Franchise History

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NFL Franchise History

NFL Franchise Yearly Genealogy
Entry of Current NFL Teams to the National Football League
Defunct National Football League ( NFL ) Franchises

NFL Franchise Yearly Genealogy

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 Bulldogs
  • Cleveland Tigers
  • Dayton Triangles
  • Akron Professionals
  • Rochester (N.Y.) Jeffersons
  • Rock Island Independents
  • Muncie Flyers
  • Decatur Staleys
  • Chicago Cardinals
  • Hammond 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.

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 Packers
  • Cincinnati Celts (play 1921 season only)
  • Minneapolis Marines
  • Evansville Crimson Giants
  • Tonawanda 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 Giants
  • Washington Senators
  • Tonawanda Kardex
  • Cleveland Tigers
  • Muncie Flyers
  • Cincinnati Celts
  • Detroit Heralds
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 Indians
  • Racine Legion
  • Toledo Maroons
  • Teams that fold between the 1922 and 1923 seasons:
  • Columbus Panhandles
  • Evansville Crimson Giants
Teams that enter the NFL for the 1923 season:
  • Columbus Tigers
  • Duluth Kelleys
  • St. 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 Bulldogs
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Louisville Brecks
  • Marion Oorang Indians
  • Racine Legion
  • St. Louis All-Stars
  • Toledo Maroons
Buffalo All-Americans change their name to Buffalo Bisons

Teams that join the NFL for the 1924 season:

  • Cleveland Bulldogs
  • Frankford Yellow Jackets
  • Kansas City Blues
  • Kenosha Maroons (play 1924 season only)
Teams that fold between the 1924 and 1925 seasons:
  • Kenosha Maroons
  • Minneapolis Marines
  • Columbus Tigers
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 Giants
  • Providence Steam Roller
  • Pottsville Maroons
  • Detroit Panthers
Teams that fold between the 1925 and 1926 seasons:
  • Cleveland Bulldogs
  • Rochester Jeffersons
The Rock Island Independents leave the NFL for the rival AFL at end of the season

The Buffalo Bisons change their name to the Buffalo Rangers

Teams that join the NFL for the 1926 season:

  • Hartford Blues
  • Brooklyn Lions
  • Los 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 Cowboys
  • Los Angeles Buccaneers
  • Buffalo Rangers
  • Detroit Panthers
  • Hartford Blues
  • Brooklyn Lions
  • Milwaukee Badgers
  • Akron Indians
  • Racine Tornadoes
  • Columbus Tigers
  • Canton Bulldogs
  • Hammond Pros
  • Louisville Colonels
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 Bison
  • Cleveland Bulldogs
  • Duluth Eskimos
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

Teams that join the NFL for the 1929 season:

  • Buffalo Bisons (play 1929 season only)
  • Minneapolis Red Jackets
  • Staten Island Stapletons
  • Orange Tornadoes
  • Boston 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 Triangles
  • Buffalo Bisons
  • Boston Bulldogs
Teams that join the NFL for the 1930 season:
  • Portsmouth Spartans
  • Brooklyn Dodgers
  • The Orange Tornadoes change their name to the Newark Tornadoes
Teams that fold between the 1930 and 1931 seasons:
  • Minneapolis Red Jackets
  • Newark Tornadoes
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 Indians
  • Providence Steam Roller
The Boston Braves join the NFL for the 1932 season

The Staten Island Stapletons fold between the 1932 and 1933 seasons

The Boston Braves changed their name to the Boston Redskins

Teams that join the NFL for the 1933 season:

  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Philadelphia Eagles
The NFL splits into divisions as follows:
Boston Redskins
Brooklyn Dodgers
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Bears
Chicago Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds
Green Bay Packers
Portsmouth Spartans

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

The Cleveland Rams are awarded an NFL franchise in the Western Division

The Boston Redskins move to Washington

The Pittsburgh Pirates are renamed the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Cleveland Rams suspend operations for the 1943 season

The Eagles and Steelers merge for one season to the Phil-Pitt Steagles

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

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

The Cleveland Rams move to Los Angeles

The Brooklyn team was formally disbanded. The owner went on to launch the AAFC, a rival league.

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.

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

The NFL establishes the following alignment:

Chicago Cardinals
Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington Redskins
San Francisco 49ers
Baltimore Colts
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Rams
New York Yanks

The Baltimore Colts folds after 1950 season

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

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

The AFL is formally organized with the charter members:

Boston Patriots
Buffalo Bills
Houston Oilers
New York Titans
Dallas Texans
Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers

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

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

The Los Angeles Chargers move to San Diego

The AFL approves expansion into Atlanta for 1961

The AFL approves expansion into Chicago for 1961

The Titans are renamed the Jets

The Texans move to Kansas City and are named the Chiefs

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:

Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins
Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers
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.

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

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):

Baltimore Colts
Boston Patiots
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Houston Oilers
Pittsburgh Steelers

Denver Broncos
Kansas City Cheifs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Redskins
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers

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

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

Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin play

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

The Oakland Raiders move to Los Angeles

The Baltimore Colts move to Indianapolis

The St. Louis Cardinals move to Phoenix

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

The Phoenix Cardinals are renamed the Arizona Cardinals

The Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis

The Los Angeles Raiders move back to Oakland

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)

The Houston Oilers move to Memphis and become the Tennessee Oilers

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

Entry of Current NFL Teams to the National Football League

1920 - Decatur Staleys (now Chicago Bears) and Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals)

1921 - Green Bay Packers

1925 - New York Giants

1930 - Portsmouth-OH Spartans (now Detroit Lions)

1932 - Boston Braves (now Washington Redskins)

1933 - Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers)

1937 - Cleveland Rams (now St. Louis)

1950 - Added AAFC's Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers

1953 - Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis)

1960 - Dallas Cowboys

1961 - Minnesota Vikings

1966 - Atlanta Falcons

1967 - New Orleans Saints

1970 - Added AFL's Boston Patriots (now New England), Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals (1968 expansion team), Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins (1966 expansion team), New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers (the AFL-NFL merger divided the league into two 13-team conferences with old-line NFL clubs Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh moving to the AFC)

1976 - Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1995 - Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars

1997 - Baltimore Ravens

Defunct National Football League ( NFL ) Franchises

Akron (Ohio) - Pros (1920-25) and Indians (1926)

Baltimore - Colts (1950)

Boston - Bulldogs (1926) and Yanks (1944-48)

Brooklyn - Lions (1926), Dodgers (1930-43) and Tigers (1944)

Buffalo - All-Americans (1921-23), Bisons (1924-25), Rangers (1926) and Bisons (1927,1929)

Canton (Ohio) - Bulldogs (1920-23,1925-26)

Chicago - Tigers (1920)

Cincinnati - Celts (1921) and Reds (1933-34)

Cleveland - Tigers (1920-21), Indians (1923), Bulldogs (1924-25,1927), Indians (1931) and Browns (1950-95)

Columbus (Ohio) - Panhandles (1920-22) and Tigers (1923-26)

Dallas - Texans (1952)

Dayton (Ohio) - Triangles (1920-29).

Detroit - Heralds (1920-21), Panthers (1925-26) and Wolverines (1928)

Duluth (Minnesota) - Kelleys (1923-25) and Eskimos (1926-27)

Evansville (Indiana) - Crimson Giants (1921-22)

Frankford (Pennsylvania) - Yellow Jackets (1924-31)

Hammond (Indiana) - Pros (1920-26)

Hartford (Conneticut) - Blues (1926)

Kansas City - Blues (1924) and Cowboys (1925-26)

Kenosha (Wisconsin) - Maroons (1924)

Los Angeles - Buccaneers (1926)

Louisville­Brecks (1921-23) and Colonels (1926)

Marion (Ohio) - Oorang Indians (1922-23)

Milwaukee - Badgers (1922-26)

Minneapolis - Marines (1922-24) and Red Jackets (1929-30)

Muncie (Indiana) Flyers (1920-21)

New York - Giants (1921), Yankees (1927-28), Bulldogs (1949) and Yankees (1950-51)

Newark (New Jersey) - Tornadoes (1930)

Orange (New Yersey) - Tornadoes (1929)

Pottsville (Pennsylvania) - Maroons (1925-28)

Providence (Rhode Island) - Steam Roller (1925-31)

Racine (Wisconsin) - Legion (1922-24) and Tornadoes (1926)

Rochester (New York) - Jeffersons (1920-25)

Rock Island (Illinois) - Independents (1920-25)

Staten Island (New York) - Stapletons (1929-32)

St. Louis - All-Stars (1923) and Gunners (1934)

Toledo (Ohio) - Maroons (1922-23)

Tonawanda (New York) -Kardex (1921), also called Lumbermen

Washington - Senators (1921)

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