10 Iconic Figures who shaped NFL History


Since its early days, the National Football League (NFL) has been extremely influential on households and entertainment with its personalities. From team owners and coaches to spectacular players, there are many moving parts in the NFL machine that keep it going. Below are some of the many iconic figures that have helped make the NFL what it is today, and NFL betting odds are that these high standards will influence the game for years to come. 

George Halas 

Known commonly as “Papa Bear”, George Halas was an influential personality, most especially with the Chicago Bears. Definitely one to demonstrate how things should be done and live up to his nickname, Halas not only was a co-founder of the NFL, but also a player, coach, and owner within the NFL. Leading the Bears to many winning seasons and championships, Halas is loyal to the team and even went as far as to sell tickets before games. He was also known for his recruiting talent and contributed to many valuable additions to the Bears. In 1963 Halas was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and still has a place in the hearts of many Bears fans. 

Vince Lombardi 

Another legendary coach was Vince Lombardi, who coached for several teams but is best known for his time with the Green Bay Packers. Lombardi led the Packers to three NFL titles and two Super Bowl wins. Known for his detail and intricate understanding of the game, Lombardi helped shape the NFL. The Super Bowl trophy was renamed the Lombardi Trophy in honor of the legendary coach. 

Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice is widely considered the greatest wide receiver of all time, with multiple Super Bowl rings and an impressive reputation. Rice has the most career receptions in NFL history, among other receiving records. Many players still look to the wide receiver for tips on accuracy and precision. The key for Rice was to keep himself in good shape and practice regularly, which allowed him to stay focused and catch so many passes. 

Tim Tebow

More of an underdog during his career, Tim Tebow was a particularly influential quarterback when it came to challenging conventions. Thanks to Tebow, the “Tebow Rule” allows homeschooled players to compete in the school district they live in. He was also known for his commendable faith and commitment to following scripture, not to mention his rituals of praying before each game. 

Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson

Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson was considered one of the NFL’s biggest personalities during his career.  Johnson even changed his last name for a time so he could be officially known as Chad Ochocinco, inspired by his jersey number 85. Johnson owns many Bengals receiving records and was known as one of the most productive wide receivers during his career. His personality came out when celebrating touchdowns and off the pitch. Causing controversy by being very outspoken has been one of the reasons why "Ochocinco" is a very widely known name across the country. 

Joe Montana

Known as “The Comeback Kid”, and “Joe Cool”, Joe Montana is another impressive player who won four Super Bowl championships for the San Francisco 49ers. Montana is widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and definitely set the standard for younger players to strive towards. 

Roger Staubach

With his discipline and precision learned from his time at the Naval Academy, Roger Staubach had a successful career with the Dallas Cowboys. Leading the Cowboys to four Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl wins, Staubach is considered a legend as one of the best quarterbacks of all time. 

Al Davis

Best known as the iconic face of the Raiders franchise for many years (in Oakland and Los Angeles), Al Davis has been highly influential in the NFL. Davis was the driving force behind the merger between the NFL and AFL, and widely known for placing the team's emphasis on speed. His determination is what fueled the Raiders and allowed them to see a steady pattern of winning under his coaching. Davis isn’t one to shy away from a fight, and has caused some controversy over his career in regard to ownership and running the American Football League (AFL). 

Paul Brown

Paul Brown was known as the "father of the modern offense". Known for shaping American football into the game we know today, the coach orchestrated many innovations during his career. Safety features such as being the first coach to have his players wear face masks, and creating the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengal franchises were all thanks to Brown. 

Brett Favre 

Brett Favre had a very successful career as an NFL quarterback. Favre was known for his streak of 297 consecutive starts over 19 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, despite periods of playing through severe amounts of pain. Favre went on to set many player records and earned the highest passer rating in the NFL. He played one of the best games of his career the day after his father passed away, making him a symbol of strength, determination and commitment. Favre played until the age of 41 and dazzled multiple generations with his perseverance. 


Over the years, the NFL has seen many players, coaches and owners play a role in making it what it is today. There are also several areas that add to the NFL experience, such as modern technology and media coverage, external factors such as legal issues, and player personalities. It will be exciting to look forward what new influential figures will emerge in the future as new generations of fans watch the game evolve. 


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