Blog: The NFL’s Structure

The NFL is a much more corporate organization than sports leagues in the UK. This is due to the environment that the league has grown up in. Founded the 1920s it didn’t really see success until the 1960s when the NFL merged with its competitor AFL to form a monopoly on the sport that has lasted until this day. The 1960s in the US was the rise of corporate America as the post WW2 economic boom combined with corporations pivoting their focus to investors instead of consumers, gave rise to massive corporate entities. The NFL became one such entity as it built up the sport to become popular and well supported, with the Super Bowl becoming a national spectacle. The league has undergone much change as it has expanded including the adding of new teams, the largest example being when it merged with the AFL in the 60s and added several new teams. It has quickly become the largest sports league in the US and one of the largest in the world with the Super Bowl now drawing millions of views in the US as well as worldwide. This success has driven a desire to increase the leagues competitiveness and prestige. This has lead to it implementing things such as the draft, where NFL teams get the opportunity to pick from the university talent pool with the worst performing team the previous season getting to pick first and the super bowl winning team picking last. Other initiatives like the salary cap, which means that each team has the same amount of money to spend on player salaries, and free agency have made the league more competitive. In recent years the league has increased the number of teams that can make the playoffs, increased the number of regular season games and increased the number of regular season games played abroad in attempts to increase the financial and global success of the sport. The league doesn’t feature promotion or relegation, so the same 32 teams feature every season and can rely upon the support of the NFL as well as it’s platform.

Photo by Adrian Curiel on Usplash

NFL Franchises operate in a very unique way, the NFL is funded by the 32 teams but has executive power over the league and makes decisions around playing schedules, managing legislation for the game’s rules and policing team restrictions like salary caps. Each team has a franchise agreement with the NFL allowing it to operate in its home city and granting it rights around the territory it is allowed to operate in and market in. Franchises are given a ‘Home Territory’ which is the home city they reside in as well as the surrounding area 75 miles away from the exterior corporate limit of their home city. This home territory is exclusive to each team unless the team shares its home territory with another team such as the two teams that call LA home. Each franchise also gets a home marketing area which allows them to market within the state their home territory is based in. This places unique restrictions on each team when it comes to marketing and commercial activity but allows for each team to foster relations and commercial success in there home city regions.

NFL teams also differ to sports teams here in the UK in that they are now intrinsically tied to a location. Many teams have moved cities whilst keeping the same players and team identity, simply playing in a different city. Teams like the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have been in their locations since the 1920s, having completely integrated themselves into the local economies and communities, making relocation unthinkable. Other teams though, have spent decades in one city to then move across the US to another. The now Los Angeles Rams started life in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams, then a few years later moved to LA, spent multiple decades there, then in 1994 moved to St Louis and then finally in 2016 moved back to LA.

A detailed view of the Rams new 2020 Uniform, Los Angeles Rams


I’m Aidan Moore, a Graphic Design student at University Centre St Helens.


Any questions or queries, get in touch in the following ways.


Based in St Helens, Merseyside, UK

close-alt close collapse comment ellipsis expand gallery heart lock menu next pinned previous reply search share star