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The National Football League Got Its Start in Stark County

     With less than a week left in 2013, we wouldn’t want to spring into the New Year without noting that this year was the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame located in Canton, Ohio.

     Football in the United States got its start in 1869 when the first soccer football game was played at the college level. In 1876, after the game evolved into what we think of as football today, rules for play were established.

     The first paid player of football received $500 to play in a game in 1892. Afterward the use of paid professional players increased each year. In 1903, the hot bed of pro football activities moved to Ohio from the Pittsburgh area where interest in the sport had decreased. The amateur team – the Massillon Tigers – increased interest in professional football by hiring professional players. Canton also had an early professional team and the rivalry between the two cities began early in the 1900’s.

     In the early years of the game, scoring was different from the way we tally touchdowns and field goals today. In 1904, a field goal went from five points to four points and it was later decreased another point to the current three points in 1909. In 1912, the points earned for a touchdown went from five to six.

     The birthdate of the National Football League was September 17, 1920. On that date a meeting was held in Canton, Ohio, with representatives of the professional football teams of the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Decatur Staleys, Chicago Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Dayton Triangles, Hammond Pros, Massillon Tigers, Muncie Flyers, Rock Island Independents, and Rochester Jeffersons. They formed an organization known as the American Professional Football Association; this was changed two years later to the NFL. The minutes from this meeting are now part of the collection at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

     The Massillon Tigers never joined the NFL and there are only two teams from that meeting that are still in existence today – the Decatur Staleys moved to Chicago to be renamed the Bears and the Chicago Cardinals, which now call Arizona home.

    September 7, 1963 marked the first day the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio was open and they also enshrined a charter class of 17. Today the Hall of Fame, which is located just off of I-77 in Canton, has grown in many ways. If you are can’t visit in person, you may want to check out their interesting online exhibits from the comfort of your home computer at profootballhof.com.

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