Today, the National Football League is 89 years old.
The NFL was formed on this date, September 17, 1920, at a Hupmobile dealership in Canton, Ohio.
The teams on that date came from four states—Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Dayton from Ohio; the Hammond Pros and Muncie Flyers from Indiana; the Rochester Jeffersons from New York; and the Rock Island Independents, Decatur Staleys, and Racine Cardinals from Illinois.
The name of the league at that time was the American Professional Football Association.
Even back in those days there was a franchise fee to join. A membership fee of $100 per team was assessed to give an appearance of respectability. Today, that would barely be the monthly minimum for many people on their credit card statements.
Four other teams—the Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, and Detroit Heralds — joined the fledgling league sometime during the year.
The new league began play almost immediately, as 800 curious onlookers watched the Independents defeat the St. Paul Ideals (not from the APFA) by a 48-0 score.
By the start of December some of the teams, the Chicago and Detroit franchises among them, had finished their seasons, disbanded, and had their franchises canceled by the Association.
For the first season, the Akron Pros finished 8-0-3 and while no official stats were kept for the 1920 season, the championship was awarded to Akron by virtue of its undefeated record — but that championship was contested since there was no title game, and it was not officially awarded until a league meeting on April 30, 1921.
For the record, the Muncie Flyers did not have much of a season — they were 0-1 before disbanding for the season.
So the Broncos kick off their 50th home season this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, with both franchises extraordinarily powerful and successful in the most successful sports league of all time. But that sports league, now called the NFL, had its birthday today 89 years after the most humble of beginnings at a long defunct auto dealership in Canton, Ohio.