I've posted this before but thought I'd do so again. Another reason to feel proud of our contribution to the game of gridiron as written by an American academic:
Football: the Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession - by Mark Bernstein, University of Pennsylvannia Press. 2001. (exerpt below)
[i]Standoffish from the start, Harvard declined to participate on the grounds that its Boston rules were so different from those of the other colleges that they could not be reconciled. Its letter explaining this to the captain of the Yale team is an unintended masterpiece of patronization. "You perhaps wonder on your side at our rules; but I assure you that we consider the game here to admit of much more science, according to our rules. We cannot but recognize in your game much brute force, weight and especially 'shin' element. Our game depends upon running, dodging and position playing.... We even went so far as to practice and try the Yale game. We gave it up at once as hopeless. . . . I would send you a copy of our rules but we do not have a spare copy."
Those students who did attend the conference formed the Intercollegiate Football Association, the sport's first governing body. The game they agreed upon still very much resembled soccer; no throwing or carrying the ball was permitted. Teams were to have twenty men to a side, although Yale argued for eleven on the theory that it might be easier to gain faculty approval for fewer men to travel to away games. These 1873 rules, which lasted only one season, were ultimately of little significance. Harvard eventually prevailed, but first Harvard's own game had to change.
The occasion was a pair of matches in May 1874 against a visiting team from McGill University of Montreal. The first of the two contests was played under Harvard rules, the second under the All-Canada Rugby Rule Code. Harvard won the opener, 3-0, in just twenty-two minutes, while wearing for the first time "magenta handkerchiefs bound round their heads." Although the second game ended in a scoreless tie (in part because McGill had neglected to bring a Canadian rugby ball, assuming erroneously that they could buy one in Boston), Harvard students who had recently derided the Canadian rule as "wholly unscientific and unsuitable to colleges," so preferred the new game that they decided to adopt it.[/i] (continues . . .)
Let's not forget that the game evolved from RUGBY!! that's the name on the Grey Cup, it was awarded to the Rugby championship in Canada. The rules and the game changed when Canadians decided that the game was too rough for them and they had to start wearing padding. Then it changed when in desperation someone threw the ball forward instead of tossing it back and the modern game evolved from that.
Let's not pretend that the game we call football was invented by North Americans, it evolved from Rugby.
Yes, rugby in Canada and soccer in the US which, as the excerpt above indicates from Bernstein's book, wasn't quite doing it for the Ivy Leaguer's and they heard of this rugby game being played in Canada where holding onto the ball was allowed, which they wanted, more physical than the soccer they were playing.
The game of football was most certainly invented in Canada. While the origins of football were developed from rugby, Canadians quickly improved the game 150 years ago with the invention of the scrimmage line-up, rather than rugby scrums.
For many years, Canadian football was called "Rugby Football".
This is what's actually inscribed on the Grey Cup Trophy:
His Excellency Earl Grey
Amateur Rugby Football Champions
Canadian football instituted the "line of scrimmage" in 1880 which differentiated it from rugby. That was just the start of the improvements which forever changed the game of football.
Football came to Canada from England in the form of rugby. We taught the Americans that game and they refined it to modern-day football. We liked what they did so well we adapted it to our style of play and have been as happy as pigs in mud ever since.
This doesn’t mean that American football is really any better than the Canadian version. It is just that our American cousins have developed more refined and concentrated instructional and coaching methods for the sport. And this has resulted in a rather interesting physical and scientific application in terms of tactics, strategy and human engineering co-ordination.
After all, we Canadians taught the Americans how to play hockey and now they have more professional teams than we have. But most of the players are Canadians who learned their skills here in Canada.
This game of football on both sides of the border certainly has gone through several changes since Ellis first got a firm hold on the ball nearly 200 years ago. Will fans 50 years hence still recognize their beloved game?
Rockne wasn't even close to being the innovator of the forward pass!:
The forward pass had been attempted at least 30 years before the play was actually made legal. Passes "had been carried out successfully but illegally several times, including the 1876 Yale–Princeton game in which Yale’s Walter Camp threw forward to teammate Oliver Thompson as he was being tackled. Princeton's protest, one account said, went for naught when the referee 'tossed a coin to make his decision and allowed the touchdown to stand' ".
The University of North Carolina used the forward pass in an 1895 game against the University of Georgia. However, the play was still illegal at the time. Bob Quincy stakes Carolina's claim in his 1973 book They Made the Bell Tower Chime:
John Heisman, namesake of the Heisman Trophy, wrote 30 years later that, indeed, the Tar Heels had given birth to the forward pass against the Bulldogs (UGA). It was conceived to break a scoreless deadlock and give UNC a 6–0 win. The Carolinians were in a punting situation and a Georgia rush seemed destined to block the ball. The punter, with an impromptu dash to his right, tossed the ball and it was caught by George Stephens, who ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
In a 1905 experimental game, Washburn University and Fairmount College (what would become Wichita State) used the pass before new rules allowing the play were approved in early 1906. Credit for the first pass goes to Fairmount's Bill Davis, who completed a pass to Art Solter.
Rules changed in 1906 to allow the forward pass
1905 had been a bloody year on the gridiron; the Chicago Tribune reported 18 players had been killed and 159 seriously injured that season. There were moves to abolish the game. But President Theodore Roosevelt personally intervened and demanded that the rules of the game be reformed. In a meeting of more than 60 schools in late 1905, the commitment was made to make the game safer. This meeting was the first step toward the establishment of what would become the NCAA and was followed by several sessions to work out "the new rules."
The final meeting of the Rules Committee tasked with reshaping the game was held on April 6, 1906, at which time the forward pass officially became a legal play. The New York Times reported in September 1906 on the rationale for the changes: "The main efforts of the football reformers have been to 'open up the game'—that is to provide for the natural elimination of the so-called mass plays and bring about a game in which speed and real skill shall supersede so far as possible mere brute strength and force of weight." However the Times also reflected widespread skepticism as to whether the forward pass could be effectively integrated into the game: "There has been no team that has proved that the forward pass is anything but a doubtful, dangerous play to be used only in the last extremity." The forward pass was not allowed in Canadian football until 1929.
First legal pass
Eddie Cochems, "Father of the Forward Pass", 1907
1906 St. Louis Post-Dispatch photograph of Brad Robinson, who threw the first legal forward pass
Most sources credit St. Louis University's Bradbury Robinson from Bellevue, Ohio with throwing the first legal forward pass. On September 5, 1906, in a game against Carroll College, Robinson's first attempt at a forward pass fell incomplete and resulted in a turnover under the 1906 rules. In the same game, Robinson later completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jack Schneider. The 1906 St. Louis University team was coached by Eddie Cochems. Football authority and College Football Hall of Fame coach David M. Nelson wrote that "E. B. Cochems is to forward passing what the Wright brothers are to aviation and Thomas Edison is to the electric light."
While St. Louis University completed the first legal forward pass in the first half of September, this accomplishment was in part because most schools did not begin their football schedule until early October.
In 1952, football coaching legend Amos Alonzo Stagg discounted accounts crediting any particular coach with being the innovator of the forward pass. Stagg noted that he had Walter Eckersall working on pass plays and saw Pomeroy Sinnock of Illinois throw many passes in 1906. Stagg summed up his view as follows: "I have seen statements giving credit to certain people originating the forward pass. The fact is that all coaches were working on it. The first season, 1906, I personally had sixty-four different forward pass patterns." In 1954, Stagg disputed Cochems' claim to have invented the forward pass:
"Eddie Cochems, who coached at St. Louis University in 1906, also claimed to have invented the pass as we know it today ... It isn't so, because after the forward pass was legalized in 1906, most of the schools commenced experimenting with it and nearly all used."
Stagg asserted that, as far back as 1894, before the rules committee even considered the forward pass, one of his players used to throw the ball "like a baseball pitcher." On the other hand, Hall of Fame coach Gus Dorais told the United Press that "Eddie Cochems of the St. Louis University team of 1906–07–08 deserves the full credit." Writing in Collier's more than 20 years earlier, Dorais' Notre Dame teammate Knute Rockne acknowledged Cochems as the early leader in the use of the pass, observing, "One would have thought that so effective a play would have been instantly copied and become the vogue. The East, however, had not learned much or cared much about Midwest and Western football. Indeed, the East scarcely realized that football existed beyond the Alleghanies ..."