The History of Football: A Texas Tradition

Photo credit: eschipul via / CC BY-SA

If there’s one thing all Texans can agree on, it’s that they love their football. From pee-wee and high school to college and professional, you can find fans packed into stadiums on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. So what is it that makes football so special in Texas? We’ve done some digging to give you a closer look at some of the most well known football teams and traditions that have found their place in the history of the Texas gridiron.


History of the Game & Professional Football in Texas

Although the sport of football wasn’t invented in Texas (it was actually rumored to have made its start in the Northern part of the United States in New England during November of 1869), Texans still believe that they were the ones who helped put the heart and soul into the game. It wasn’t until 1920 when the National Football League (NFL) was created with just 11 teams across four states, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and New York. Years after that, the state of Texas founded its first professional football team in 1952 when the “New York Yanks” were transformed into the “Dallas Texans.” In their first season, the Dallas Texans finished with a 1-11 recording, picking up their only victory against the Chicago Bears.

In 1959, big changes for football were happening in the state of Texas. Bud Adams of Houston and Lamar Hunt of Dallas founded the American Football League (AFL), and in October they made the decision that a new team would be formed in Houston called the “Houston Oilers.” Soon enough in 1960, another NFL team was formed in Dallas, originally thought to be called the “Dallas Rangers,” it was quickly given the name, the “Dallas Cowboys.” Although the Cowboys went 0-11 in their first season, they quickly gained popularity within the sport and within the entire NFL. Following the merge of the AFL and NFL in 1969, the Cowboys made it into their first Super Bowl in 1970, losing to the Baltimore Ravens; however, in the following season, the Cowboys would take home their first Super Bowl victory in January of 1972 against the Miami Dolphins, winning 24-3.

Photo credit: Ray Bouknight via / CC BY
Dallas Cowboys. Photo credit: Ray Bouknight via / CC BY

Finally in 1997, the team that was known as the Houston Oilers was moved to Tennessee and renamed the Tennessee Titans. In hopes to expand football and the NFL presence in the state of Texas once again, the Houston Texans were franchised in 1999 by Bob McNair—finalizing what we now know as the two NFL teams who called Texas their home: the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans.

Photo credit: The Brit_2 via / CC BY-NC-ND
Houston Texans. Photo credit: The Brit_2 via / CC BY-NC-ND

College Football

When it comes to college football, it’s all about the rivalries. With teams like the Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Tech, the Baylor Bears, and TCU just to name a few, it’s no surprise why there’s a power struggle when it comes to who holds the crown for the best football powerhouse among these in-state teams. Leading the pack, the Longhorns hold four National Championship titles (1963, 1969, 1970 and 2005) and 32 conference championships. Close behind, the Aggies have earned three National Championships titles (1919, 1927 and 1939) and 20 conference titles, in addition to having two Heisman Trophy winners. Baylor and Texas Tech have yet to win a national title in football, and TCU has one title in the books from 1938.

Photo credit: ay_lee_in via / CC BY-NC-ND
Texas Tech. Photo credit: ay_lee_in via / CC BY-NC-ND

High School Football

Just like college and professional teams, high school football teams get just as much love and attention, if not more so, than all the other football divisions in the state of Texas. Friday Nights are filled with tailgates, packed bleachers, screaming fans, high-definition scoreboards, and a lot of appreciation for those players out on the field. Texas is known for a few of their high school dynasty teams throughout the years who have gone multiple seasons with almost no losses, including teams like Abilene High School, Wichita Falls High School, John H. Reagan High School, Permian High School, and many more. For all the young stars who continue on to play college or professional football, it all starts on Friday Nights at their local high school with the support of the entire community behind them.

Photo credit: New Deal Lions Sports and then some via / CC BY
Lamesa High School. Photo credit: New Deal Lions Sports and then some via / CC BY

Largest Football Stadium in Texas

So, with all these beloved football teams across the state playing on multiple different levels, which team is able to call their stadium the largest in Texas? Well, when it comes to stadium size and capacity, the Texas A&M Aggies take the cake. Kyle Field, located in College Station, has a max capacity of 102,733 fans. Surprised? AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, only holds 80,000, while the Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, home to the Texas Longhorns, holds 100,119, and the Houston Texan’s stadium, NRG Stadium, only holds 71,795.

Photo credit: eschipul via / CC BY-SA
Kyle Field, Texas A&M, Home of the 12th Man. Photo credit: eschipul via / CC BY-SA

For more information about all of these Texas football teams that we’ve mentioned, visit the following sources:

Ready to get your little football star out on the field?

If you’re interested in getting your son or daughter involved with either tackle or flag football, there are plenty of youth leagues spread out across the state of Texas. Many of these leagues even have divisions located in and around the San Antonio area. To find out more and to register, check out the following websites:

There’s no better time to get your child involved with sports than at a young age. For additional information, check out our article, Youth Sports in San Antonio.