1882 and before point scoring in football was non existant...There
basically was no scoring or point keeping. The winner won by goals
or achievments of goals.Goals were kicks made from the field thru
the wooden uprights. Also Four touchdowns equaled one goal, and
a goal kicked after a touchdown took precedence over even the four
touchdowns. They added up the number of kicking goals and touchdowns
to decide the winner. Points were not given for these at first.
So, if you scored touchdowns and missed the kicks you did not get
any kind of goal. Four touch downs were equivalent to one field
type goal. Confusing isn't it? But those were the earliest rules.
It even gets more confusing when understanding the use of a safety
in the old rule days.. Teams often used the safety to their benefit;
since at first, a safety did not count against the team making it
nor for a team creating one. In the earliest days a safety had no
points associated with it. Teams used it extensively to get a free
kick from their own 25 yard line to get the ball away from their
goal. Often teams who were pinned near their goal line would run
behind the goal line and touch the ball to the ground -thus , giving
them the opportunity to have a free kick from their own 25 yard
line to send the ball far down the field ; away from the danger
of not being able to move it or maybe fumbling it near their own
end of the field.. So often...very often, teams used this safety
rule to get the ball far away from their goal. And , because there
were no points given to the other team when this occured it was
overused and made for very close and many tied games. This overuse
of the safety soon lead to great controvery and the start of some
early scoring decisions to break the many ties.
Here is how it began to work against those over using the safety
rule..... - if a team had no kicking goal or touchdown by the end
of the game -the team that had 4 less uses of the safety would be
declared the winner.
There were still no points for the safety and it only counted when
the game was tied.
1883-1884 the start of Scoring at last....
So, in 1883-4 Walter Camp (considered the father of football) introduced
a scoring point system which was adopted. In 1883 a goal kicked
from the field was given a value of 5 points. (the best you could
achieve). Legend and fact tell of many men who kicked 60 plus yard
field goals both being held on the ground and also by being drop
A goal kicked after a touchdown was given a value of 4 points. And
a touchdown only brought 2 points.
And finally a safety was worth 1 point -a negative forced against
the team that had to make it.
As the game continued to evolve around 1885 it became clear to everyone
that a touchdown was the hardest thing to achieve...even harder
then a goal kicked from the field...which up to then was worth 5
So in late 1884-1885 a touchdown was given a new value of 4 points!
The field goal still stayed at 5 points and the goal after the touchdown
was reduced to only 2 points. And the safety was raised to 2 points
Then again, in 1897 the touchdown was
raised to 5 points and the kick after a touchdown was dropped to
1 point. (our modern day extra point) The field goal fell to 4 points
in 1904 and to 3 points in 1909.
In 1912 the touch down finally achieved its value of 6 points that
has remained the same till modern times.
This 1912 change -touchdown -6 points , kick after touchdown 1
point , field goal 3 points , and safety 2 points remained unchanged
for some 46 years . Where in 1958 the rules allowed a team to go
for two points after touchdown with a running or passing play. This
was done to help reduce the number of ties and it worked and was
considered a success.
The ealiest scoring shows why the larger ball stayed in favor as
most big scoring was done with kicking goals which could be dropped
kicked or held to be kicked from any part of the field. The huge
watermelon ball only became more steamlined, or less wide and fat
when the forward pass was allowed in 1906. The huge old ball gave
way to a slighly smaller ball but it was still big and hard to hold
by todays standards. At first, very few used the pass as the ball
was still wider and difficult to grasp and odd pass rules about
having to drop back staigfht and for at least five yards and the
rule that if a pass was touched by opposing defense in flight ,
and not caught by anyone it was thought of as an interception. These
rules limited the pass for a while until players learned to throw
a spiral and how to grasp the ball just right to make this work.
There were some early teams right at 1906 who used passes greatly
to their effectiveness in particular was St Louis University winning
many mnay games with it.
Still the pass was scorned by the big East Coast teams ..especially
Army and the Ivy leagers. But out in the Mid West teams began to
see its advantages and that's how Notre Dame used it to become a
national Power under Knute Rockne . That;s another story for later.
As in 1913 Notre Dame used the Pass to beat the super Power of Army
by a score of 35 to 13!
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