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Jay Berwanger was the top selection in the first-ever NFL draft (1936). Originally drafted by Philadelphia, his rights were sold to Bears coach George Halas. But his asking price of $25,000 for two seasons was too high, and he never signed a contract--instead taking a job as a foam-rubber salesman. He died of lung cancer in 2002.
Baseball's Philadelphia Athletics, managed by Connie Mack, and the Philadelphia Phillies formed professional football teams in 1902, joining the Pittsburgh Stars in the first attempt at a pro football league, named the National Football League. The Athletics won the first night football game ever played, 39-0 over the Kanaweola Athletic Club at Elmira, New York, November 21, 1902.
New York's original AFL team was called the Titans. When Sonny Werblin took over the franchise in 1963, he changed the team name to the New York Jets to reflect the modern approach of his team and the star-studded performances he hoped his team would produce.
Sweeping rules changes were adopted by the NFL in 1974 to add action and tempo to games: one sudden-death overtime period was added for preseason and regular-season games; the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines; kickoffs were moved from the 40- to the 35-yard line; after missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was to be returned to the line of scrimmage; restrictions were placed on members of the punting team to open up return possibilities; roll-blocking and cutting of wide receivers was eliminated; the extent of downfield contact a defender could have with an eligible receiver was restricted; the penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of the hands, and tripping were reduced from 15 to 10 yards; and wide receivers blocking back toward the ball within three yards of the line of scrimmage were prevented from blocking below the waist.