The National Football League or the NFL is the biggest professional football league in the United States. The NFL has thirty-two teams that are based in a variety of cities across the country. Originally known as the American Professional Football Association when it was formed in 1920, the Association assumed the name “National Football League” in 1922.
At first, the most popular way people enjoyed their football was by watching their favorite college team play but the focus of the country changed in 1958. That NFL game went into overtime and captured a number of new fans who found that they enjoyed the professional football league just as much as if not more than their college football teams. Due to the rising popularity of professional football, the NFL merged with the American Football League in the 1960’s to form what is now the National Football League.
Over the years, some friendly and some not-so-friendly rivalries have come about due to a number of circumstances. These rivalries can be categorized into three separate groups. The first is the ‘intradivisional’, which is a rivalry between teams in the same NFL division. The second is interdivisional, which is a rivalry between teams in the different divisions but in the same conference. The third is the ‘interconference’, which is a rivalry between teams in different conferences. Many times fans will hear sportscasters refer to team rivalries as “divisional rivals”, “division rival” or “conference rival” instead of including the appropriate prefix.
For example, in the AFC North, there is a rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns based on the when the team’s owner, Art Modell, moved the Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore. Fortunately for Cleveland Browns fans, the “Dawg Pound” and its colors remained in Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns were reactivated as a NFL team in 1999. The “Dawg Pound” fans waited for their revenge and got a taste in 2001 when the Browns won against the Ravens after only four games.
Another famous rivalry began in the AFC East when the Buffalo Bills owner, Ralph Wilson, wasn’t allowed to base an AFL team in Miami and went on to establish the Buffalo Bills as a charter member of the AFL. The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins have maintained a rivalry based on this history since 1967. This particular rivalry has had a number of key moments that continued to fuel their contention over the years including playing against each other in the ultimate game of the football season- the Super Bowl.