Famous NFL Firsts

Super Bowl I, 1967
Super Bowl I, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers, 1967. James Flores/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Since its initial inception in 1920, the National Football League has been the premier professional football league. It has been responsible for the growth and development of the game of football, along with being a pioneer for the game’s overall popularity.

The NFL has undergone its fair share of changes since its inception, but it continues to set new standards for football and the way the game is played, and watched.

NFL Firsts

First NFL Night Game: The first NFL night game took place on November 6, 1929.
The Chicago Cardinals defeated the Providence Steam Roller, 16-0.

First NFL Rules: February 25, 1933
In 1933, NFL officials adopted rules specifically for the NFL and discontinued the use of collegiate rules.

First NFL Championship Game: The first NFL Championship Game took place on December 17, 1933. The Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants, 23-21.

First NFL Draft Pick: February 8, 1936

A halfback by the name of Jay Berwanger holds the distinction of being the very first NFL draft pick, as well as the first Heisman Trophy winner.

First Pro Bowl: The NFL’s first Pro Bowl took place on January 15, 1939. The New York Giants defeated the Pro All-Stars, 13-10.

First NFL Divisional Playoff Game: December 14, 1941

The Chicago Bears defeated the Green Bay Packers, 33-14, in an NFL Western Division playoff game.

First Use of a Penalty Flag in the NF: September 17, 1948
The penalty flag was first used in the NFL in a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Boston Yanks.

First Overtime NFL Game: August 28, 1958

The Los Angeles Rams defeated the New York Giants, 23-17, three minutes into overtime of a preseason contest.

First Overtime NFL Championship Game: December 28, 1958

The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23-17.

First Super Bowl: January 15, 1967

Although it was not called the Super Bowl at the time it was played, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in what came to be known as the inaugural Super Bowl. At the time, the less flashy title of ‘AFL-NFL Championship Game’ was used. The following year’s championship game was the same. Super Bowl III in 1969, was actually the first championship game that was billed as the Super Bowl at the time it was played.

African-Americans in the NFL

First Modern African-American NFL Player: March 21, 1946

The Los Angeles Rams signed halfback Kenny Washington to an NFL contract. (Fritz Pollard won a championship with Akron in 1920, but Washington is considered the first African-American player of the modern era.)

First African-American NFL Player From an All-Black College: 1947

Paul "Tank" Younger also signed with the L.A. Rams a year after Washington.

First African-American Head Coach of the Modern NFL Era: 1989

Art Shell was hired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders after serving as a player and assistant coach for the Raiders for 20 years.

First NFL Playoff Game Featuring Two African-American Head Coaches: January 4, 2003

Herman Edwards' New York Jets defeated Tony Dungy's Indianapolis Colts 41-0 in the wild-card round.