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Dividing NFL history into smaller eras than just "pre-merger" or "post-merger"


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When the NFL history is discussed, there are usually two eras - pre-merger (1920-69) and post-merger (1970-present), in reference to the AFL-NFL merger.

I've proposed a division into smaller eras:

1920-32 - Early Years: These were the years where the NFL did not divide into divisions.

1933-45 - Depression/WWII Era: The Great Depression and World War II shaped these 13 NFL seasons, the first in which divisional play was instituted.

1946-59 - War with the AAFC and Early Television Era: The AAFC co-existed with the NFL for the remainder of the 1940s, and two of its teams are still active as NFL members today. The 1950s were the birth of the NFL on television. The 1951 season also was the last season in which the NFL reduced in size.

1960-69 - War with the AFL: The 1960s saw pro football grow from 12 teams in 1959 to 26 in 1969. The AFL was so successful it forced a merger with the NFL with all teams intact.

1970-81 - Early Post-Merger Era: The NFL did not see a single relocation in the first 12 years after absorbing the AFL, while expanding to 28 teams in 1976.

1982-97 - Franchise Free Agency Era: Despite what the NFL promised in the AFL merger agreement, it permitted six franchises to relocate during these years (one of them twice, the second move back to their previous home city), and the relocation of a seventh team's personnel (but not all of them) to form the basis for a new expansion team, while that team shut down for three years before returning in 1999.

1998-2015 - Manning VS. Brady Era: Much of these eighteen NFL seasons was defined by the rivalry between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

2016-present - New Breed of Quarterbacks: While Peyton Manning is no longer in the league, Tom Brady still is, albeit a Buccaneer rather than a Patriot. He's expected to remain with the Bucs until at least 2024, when he would be 47. Also since 2016, new star quarterbacks have emerged at a greater rate than before, including Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa.

Edited by pf9
corrected 16 to 18
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3 hours ago, pf9 said:

1998-2015 - Manning VS. Brady Era: Much of these sixteen NFL seasons was defined by the rivalry between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

2016-present - New Breed of Quarterbacks: While Peyton Manning is no longer in the league, Tom Brady still is, albeit a Buccaneer rather than a Patriot. He's expected to remain with the Bucs until at least 2024, when he would be 47. Also since 2016, new star quarterbacks have emerged at a greater rate than before, including Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa.

I've thought about this before as well. I agree that ~1998 is the right starting point for that era

However, I think instead of 2016, I was pegging 2018 as the fulcrum point for the current era. Personally, I don't really see 2016 or 2017 being tangibly different from 2013-2015. You have the same few elite QBs, you have the same few elite teams and super bowl winners/contenders

But 2018 marked Mahomes breaking out and the start of the new wave of QBs. It's also (around) the time of some of the former elite teams starting to fall off, and some of the newer ones picking up. 

Basically everything you said about 2016 makes more sense for 2018, other than the fact that Peyton retired between the 15 and 16 seasons

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The league is better divided into eras based on rule changes. For instance, after 1978 they penalized illegal contact by the defense past 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. This impacted the game far more than any of the changes you suggest. 

Also they started protecting defenseless receivers more every year starting 2009, which has contributed to the rapid increase in passing efficiency since then. 

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4 hours ago, pf9 said:

.....since 2016, new star quarterbacks have emerged at a greater rate than before, including Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa.

giphy.gif

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On 3/18/2021 at 5:58 PM, pf9 said:

2016-present - New Breed of Quarterbacks: While Peyton Manning is no longer in the league, Tom Brady still is, albeit a Buccaneer rather than a Patriot. He's expected to remain with the Bucs until at least 2024, when he would be 47. Also since 2016, new star quarterbacks have emerged at a greater rate than before, including Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa.

@Malfatron - found the thesis.

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2012 might also be significant in that it will be the last season a RB wins the MVP. Henry had a 2K season and wasn't even close. A.P won over Manning and Brady seasons that would have won normally. So I see that season as the cut off for the late 2000s football. 

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1998-2015 isn't a good cut off. Too much happened in that time frame to change the league and it feels like it's just their to get in Manning's entire career in one era, which I find kinda unneccessary since he really blew up as a megastar around 2003 anyways. 

Really it should be something like 

1981-1993/4 (NFC Super team era. When the NFC dominated the NFL and was filled with super teams like the Niner's, 85 Bears etc)

1994-2003 (early salary cap era, when teams were just figuring out how to deal with the new cap and it was a growing pain of adjustment)

2004-2017 (new passing rules era, where passing stats exploded and more and more limitations were placed on the defense)

2018- (hybrid QB era where the emphasis on more mobile younger QB's like Mahomes, Goff, Watson, Jackson really took off)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

1928-1945: Silent era where nothing happened

 

1946-1964: NFL Boom I guess

 

1965-1980: Pre-Joe Montana days and the deadball days. The X-Factor of the game was defense

 

1981-1996: Joe Montana days and the Millennial period in which people born during these years remember an NFL without Tom brady being a starting QB(late 2001). The peak of NFL play, but the low point of the AFC. 

 

1997-sometime in the early 2010s: (AFC finally wins again) The Zooming of Tom Brady's Hall of Fame career. 

 

2010ish to now: The "ALPHA GO" days of Tom Brady

 

I am just oddly trying to fit in Pew's Research gospel of real life generations to the NFL. It actually works out in a weird way.

 

1. Baby Boomers are the last to likely remember a time before the Super Bowl 

2. Gen X was all born before Joe Montana started in 1981. 

3. Gen Z begins in 1997 when the AFC finally won a Super Bowl again and Tom Brady became a starter around 9/11 which is the gospel on how to separate 1996/1997 from each other. So Millennial remember the pre Brady days or something. 

 

If I had to do a serious take on this I would just go by eras like this.

 

Pre-1978: Dead Ball Era

 

1978 to 2003: Moderate Rules Era

 

2004 to now: Present Era

Edited by NeptunePenguins
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