The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing its name to the National Football League in 1922. The league currently consists of thirty-two teams from the United States. The league is divided evenly into two conferences – the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC), and each conference has four divisions that have four teams each, for a total of 16 teams in each conference. The NFL is an unincorporated 501(c)(6) association, a federal nonprofit designation, comprising its 32 teams.
The regular season is a seventeen-week schedule during which each team plays sixteen games and has one bye week. The season currently starts on the Thursday night in the first full week of September and runs weekly to late December or early January. At the end of each regular season, six teams from each conference (at least one from each division) play in the NFL playoffs, a twelve-team single-elimination tournament that culminates with the championship game, known as the Super Bowl. This game is held at a pre-selected site which is usually a city that hosts an NFL team.
The NFL is the most attended domestic sports league in the world by average attendance per game, with 66,960 fans per game in 2010–11. Although not as frequently as the other major professional sports leagues in the United States, the NFL still is not immune to labor disputes, such as the players' strikes of 1982 and 1987, and more recently a lockout in 2011, though the latest did not result in the cancellation of any regular-season games.
The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. The Heidi Game obtained its name because the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) controversially broke away from the game with the Jets still winning to air the television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone. In the late 1960s, few professional football games took longer than two and a half hours to play, and the Jets–Raiders three-hour time slot was thought to be adequate. A high-scoring contest, together with a number of injuries and penalties for the two bitter American Football League rivals, caused the game to run long. NBC executives had ordered that Heidi must begin on time, but given the exciting game, they decided to postpone the start of the film and continue football coverage. As 7 p.m. approached, many members of the public called NBC to inquire about the schedule, to complain or opine, jamming NBC's switchboards, and the change could not be communicated. Heidi began as scheduled, preempting the final moments of the game and the two Oakland touchdowns in the eastern half of the country, to the outrage of viewers. The Heidi Game led to a change in the way professional football is shown on network television; games are shown to their conclusion before evening programming begins. To ensure that network personnel could communicate under similar circumstances, special telephones (dubbed "Heidi phones") were installed, with a connection to a different telephone exchange from other network phones. In 1997, the Heidi Game was voted the most memorable regular season game in pro football history.
Brock Edward Lesnar (born July 12, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, actor, mixed martial artist and amateur wrestler. He is currently signed with professional wrestling promotion WWE. He is also a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and was ranked the No.5 Heavyweight in the world by Sherdog before he announced his retirement at the end of 2011. Lesnar is an accomplished amateur wrestler, winning the 2000 NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship and placing second in 1999, losing in the finals to 1999 world freestyle wrestling champion and future New England Patriots offensive lineman Stephen Neal. He then gained prominence in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he was a three-time WWE Champion, becoming the youngest WWE Champion at age 25 with his first reign. Lesnar was the 2002 King of the Ring and the winner of the 2003 Royal Rumble. After leaving WWE in 2004, Lesnar pursued a career in the NFL. He played during the preseason for the Minnesota Vikings, but ended up being a late cut. Lesnar returned to professional wrestling at the end of 2005, and joined New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first match. He was stripped of the title in July 2006, although he held the physical belt until June 2007. Lesnar started a career in mixed martial arts and won his first fight in June 2007. He then signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in October 2007. He lost his UFC debut against Frank Mir. He captured the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Randy Couture on November 15, 2008, then avenged his loss to Mir at UFC 100 to become the Undisputed Champion. After being sidelined from fighting in late 2009 due to diverticulitis, Lesnar returned to defeat the Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin at UFC 116. Lesnar lost the Heavyweight belt against Cain Velasquez at UFC 121. He was once again stricken with a bout of diverticulitis in May 2011 and had surgery to try to cope with the ailment. In August 2011, Lesnar stated that he was ready to return to fighting in the UFC. Lesnar retired from the UFC following his loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141.