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American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sports of association football (known in the U.S. as soccer) and rugby football. The first match of American football was played on November 6, 1869, between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules based on the association football rules of the time. During the latter half of the 1870s, colleges playing association football switched to the Rugby Union code, which allowed carrying the ball. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, the line of scrimmage, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs; later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone, and specified the size and shape of the football. The sport is closely related to Canadian football, which evolved parallel and contemporary to the American game, and most of the features that distinguish American football from rugby and soccer are also present in Canadian football.

American football as a whole is the most popular sport in the United States. The most popular forms of the game are professional and college football, with the other major levels being high school and youth football. , nearly 1.1 million high school athletes and 70,000 college athletes play the sport in the United States annually, almost all of them men, with a few exceptions. The National Football League, the most popular American football league, has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world; its championship game, the Super Bowl, ranks among the most-watched club sporting events in the world, and the league has an annual revenue of around US$10 billion.

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Joe Namath
The history of the New York Jets American football team began in 1959 with the founding of the Titans of New York, of the American Football League (AFL). The team had little success in its early years. In January 1965, New York signed University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath (pictured), and showed gradual improvement in the late 1960s, posting its first winning record in 1967 and winning its only American Football League championship in 1968. By winning the title, the team earned the right to play in Super Bowl III against the champions of the National Football League, the Baltimore Colts. The Jets defeated the Colts in the game, improving public perception of the AFL as the two leagues prepared to merge.

In the following years, New York had limited success, enduring a string of disastrous seasons. In 1997, the Jets hired two-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells. The new coach guided the team to its most successful season since the merger: in 1998, the Jets finished with twelve wins and four losses, reaching the AFC Championship Game. The team made five playoff appearances in the 2000s, their most of any decade. In 2009 and 2010, under coach Rex Ryan, the Jets achieved back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game, losing to the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Credit: J. Glover

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome (originally Louisiana Superdome and commonly The Superdome) is a multi-purpose dome-covered stadium and arena comprising, as regards American football, a FieldTurf playing field, situated in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

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Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan (born 1962) is an American football head coach for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). After serving as an assistant coach for 22 years, Ryan attained his first head coaching job in the NFL with the Jets in 2009. He is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals head coach Buddy Ryan and is the fraternal twin brother of Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.

Upon graduating from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Ryan spent the next 22 years serving as an assistant coach on different teams at both the college and professional level. At the behest of their head coach Brian Billick, Ryan joined the Baltimore Ravens in 1999 and spent nine years there. In 2005 he earned the title of defensive coordinator and in 2008 became the assistant head coach. Hours after the Ravens lost to the Steelers in the 2008 playoffs, Ryan accepted a contract offer from the Jets for their vacant head coaching position.

Ryan has become known throughout the league for his outspoken manner, boisterous attitude and success with the Jets, and his teams are highly regarded by critics for their defensive capabilities.

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My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family, and self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part.
— Jack Trice

Iowa State College Cyclones offensive tackle, in a letter to his family one day prior to his sustaining fatal injuries in a game betwixt his team and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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