One man, Walter Camp, did more than any other American to shape the nation’s love affair with the sport today.
"What Washington was to his country, Camp was to American football, the friend, the founder and the father," John Heisman, the late longtime coach and namesake of the iconic college football trophy, once said.
Most notably, Camp’s vision turned a primitive — and often deadly — college activity into a uniquely American sporting spectacle with passionate devotees at the high school, college and professional levels.
Thirty-seven men were killed on college football fields in the 1904 and 1905 seasons. The national outcry over the brutality forged a partnership between President Theodore Roosevelt and Walter Camp that made football less brutal and more popular than ever.
Camp (1859-1925) was a Connecticut native and star player at Yale from 1876 to 1881 during American football’s infancy.
Football was never "invented" as basketball or volleyball were. Instead, it evolved out of soccer and rugby. And in the early years of that evolution, the rules of "Foot Ball" — as it was written at the time — were often inconsistent.
Camp introduced standard parameters of the game that all fans recognize today. A line of scrimmage, the system of four downs and the rules of 11 men on the field per side were all pioneered by Camp.
He gave the sport its first All-America teams — a compilation of the best college football around the nation. The All-America team is still published by the Walter Camp Football Foundation each year.
Camp also gave offenses the standardized formation of seven players on the line of scrimmage and four in the backfield that is still used today.