Rulers of Football
12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.
The first American football game was played on November 6, 1869, when Rutgers defeated Princeton (at that time still called New Jersey) by a score of 6 to 4. To us, however, that game would have looked more like soccer than what we know as football today. It wasn’t until 1880 that rule changes established the snap, the line of scrimmage and the concept of downs. It took even longer for the forward pass to become legal.
The American Professional Football Association, the forerunner of the National Football League, was formed in 1920, and James Francis “Jim” Thorpe, the first name listed on our ruler, was playing football at the time. He was already an Olympic champion, having won gold in both the pentathlon and the decathlon at the at the Stockholm Summer Olympics of 1912, the first Native American to win gold for the United States. Thorpe played baseball for the New York Giants in 1912 and 1913, and also briefly played professional basketball. Talk about an all-round athlete!
If you disregard place kickers and punters, the player with most games played in the NFL is wide receiver Jerry Lee Rice Sr., who played mostly with the San Francisco 49’ers and caught most of his passes from quarterback Joseph Clifford "Joe" Montana. Rice also holds the records for most receptions, most touchdown receptions, and most receiving yards, accumulated during his 20-year NFL career.
After the name of each individual, we have listed their position, if they were a player, or their league function (coach, owner, commissioner), if that is their reason for inclusion. The entries on our ruler are listed in order of the first year that the individual was part of the league.
The “head” image is that of Vincent Thomas “Vince” Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, wearing his trademark fedora.
If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in Rulers of Baseball, Rulers of Hockey, Rulers of the Olympics, or Great Women Rulers of Sports.