New York Times Co./Getty Images
- Football helmets used to be made of leather and weren't mandatory in the NFL until 1943.
- Scoreboards used to be manually operated.
- Football audiences dressed more formally than they do now.
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Before there were durable plastic football helmets and virtual reality training sessions, there were thin leather helmets and chalkboards.
The game of football has undergone many changes since the National Football League was founded in 1920.
In honor of the NFL's 100th year (and the impending Super Bowl), here's a look back at what the game of football used to look like.
Jim Thorpe was the first president of the NFL, then called the American Professional Football Association.
Thorpe was known as one of the greatest athletes of his generation. He served as the president of the APFA from 1920 to 1921 — before it was renamed the NFL in 1922 — and was also a football player himself.
"Red" Grange was another star player of the 20th century.
New York Times Co./Getty Images
Grange was known as the "Galloping Ghost" for his ability to outsmart and outrun opponents on the field.
Helmets didn't become mandatory until 1943, and even then, they weren't as protective as they are today.
Early football helmets were made out of leather, which is where the nickname "leatherheads" comes from. Face masks didn't become part of the design until around 1946.
Football uniforms also began to include padding for the ribs, shoulders, elbows, and knees.
Jerseys were mostly made out of durable materials like wool.
To protect the hips and waist, padding reminiscent of girdles was also used on jerseys.
Jerseys didn't yet come in bright colors — most of them were navy, black, or grey.
Before scoreboards went digital, they were manually operated.
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Football audiences dressed more formally than they do now.
Men wore fedoras, and women wore strings of pearls. No body paint or foam fingers in sight.
The 1967 NFL Championship game lives in infamy as the "Ice Bowl" for its sub-zero temperatures and intense rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
Despite the -15 degree weather, the Green Bay Packers won the game 21 to 17.
Some cheerleader costumes, like these headdresses that appropriate Native American ceremonial dress, wouldn't fly today.
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At Super Bowl I in 1967, cheerleaders wore glamorized versions of Native American headdresses, a form of cultural appropriation that hasn't aged well.
Back in the day, the official football rule book was an actual physical book.
Now, it's a downloadable PDF.
Plays were planned on blackboards.
These days, the NFL uses virtual reality to help train players for tough game scenarios and reduce the chances of injury.
Early team mascots looked more like stuffed animals than cartoon characters.
Today, the Chicago Bears mascot, Staley Da Bear, wears a team jersey and his orange eyes are more fierce-looking.
While the look of the game has changed over the years, its spirit and sportsmanship have remained intact.
- Read more:
- Rare color photos taken back in the day that show how much life has changed
- 10 vintage outfits from the 1920s that we'd wear today
- The very first Miss America contest took place in 1921 — here's what that first pageant was like
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