The forerunner of American
football may have been a game played by the ancient Greeks, called
harpaston. In this game there was no limit to the number of players. The
object was to move a ball across a goal line by kicking it, throwing it,
or running with it.
contains detailed accounts of the game, including its rougher elements,
such as ferocious tackling.
Most modern versions of football originated in England, where a form of
the game was known in the 12th century. In subsequent centuries football
became so popular that various English monarchs, including Edward II and
Henry VI, forbade the game because it took interest away from the
military sport of archery. By the middle of the 19th century, football
had split into two distinct entities. Still popular today, these two
sports were soccer and rugby.
American football evolved
from these two sports. The sport called soccer in the United States is
still known as football throughout much of the world.
The first professional
football game in the United States took place in 1895 in the town of
Latrobe, Pennsylvania, between a team representing Latrobe and a team
from Jeannette, Pennsylvania. In the following years many professional
teams were formed, including the Duquesnes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
the Olympics of McKeesport, Pennsylvania; the Bulldogs of Canton, Ohio;
and the team of Massillon, Ohio. Noted college players who took up the
professional game during its early years include Willie Heston (formerly
at the University of Michigan), Fritz Pollard (Brown University), and
Jim Thorpe (Carlisle Indian School).