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Throughout the years, a number of teams in the
National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any s ...
(NFL) have either moved or merged. In the early years, the NFL was not stable and teams moved frequently to survive, or folded only to be resurrected in a different city with the same players and owners, while the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
era saw the movement of most surviving small-town NFL teams to larger cities to ensure survival, and franchise mergers were also popular during World War II in response to the exodus of players to war service. Few, if any, of these relocations and mergers were accompanied with widespread controversy. Franchise moves became far more controversial in the late 20th century when a vastly more popular NFL, free from financial instability, allowed many franchises to abandon long-held strongholds for perceived financially greener pastures. Despite a
Pete Rozelle Alvin Ray "Pete" Rozelle (; March 1, 1926 – December 6, 1996) was an American businessman and executive. Rozelle served as the History of the NFL Commissioner, commissioner of the National Football League (NFL) for nearly thirty years, from Ja ...
promise to
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Congress
not to relocate franchises in return for a law exempting the league from certain aspects of
antitrust Competition law is a law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environmen ...
laws, thus making possible the
AFL–NFL merger The AFL–NFL merger was the merger of the two major professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of ele ...
, several franchises have relocated since the merger and the passage of the law (Public Law 89-800) which sanctioned it. While owners invariably cited financial difficulties as the primary factor in such moves, many fans bitterly disputed these contentions, especially in
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
,
St. Louis St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State ( ...

St. Louis
, and
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North ...

Cleveland
, each of which eventually received teams some years after their original franchises moved. However, Los Angeles, the second-largest media market in the United States, History of the National Football League in Los Angeles, did not have an NFL team from 1995 to 2015. The league had started actively promoting a return to Los Angeles no later than 2006, and in January 2016, the NFL gave the St. Louis Rams approval to move back to Los Angeles. A year later, the San Diego Chargers, Chargers also relocated to the city, while the Oakland Raiders, Raiders Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas, relocated to Las Vegas in 2020. Within the United States, the San Diego–Tijuana market is currently the largest metropolitan area (and only one with over 3 million residents) without an NFL franchise. The only other city to be seriously considered in the country in recent times was San Antonio, Texas, which the Raiders seriously considered as a relocation candidate in 2014 before choosing Las Vegas. Speculation on future relocation has mainly been centered around two larger cities outside the United States: Toronto, Canada ''(q.v. National Football League in Toronto)'' and London, England, United Kingdom ''(q.v. Potential London NFL franchise)'', the latter of which would be the first attempt by one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada to place a team outside North America. Additionally, with the increasing suburbanization of the U.S., the building of new stadiums and other team facilities in the suburbs instead of the central city became popular in the 1970s.


Timeline


Teams making more significant moves, in chronological order

The NFL considers these continuous franchises that relocated to different metropolitan areas. The list also includes franchises from the 1960s American Football League that moved during that league's existence. The NFL and AFL AFL–NFL merger, agreed to merge in 1966, with the merger taking effect in 1970. All AFL franchises were accepted into the NFL, and the NFL incorporated the AFL's history, records, and statistics. *Decatur Staleys: to Chicago in 1921 (renamed the Chicago Bears in 1922) *Toledo Maroons: to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1924 *Cleveland Bulldogs: to Detroit as the 1928 Detroit Wolverines (NFL) season, Wolverines in 1928 *Pottsville Maroons: to Boston as the Pottsville Maroons, Bulldogs in 1929 *Dayton Triangles: to Brooklyn as the Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL), Dodgers in 1930 (renamed Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL), Brooklyn Tigers in 1944) *Portsmouth Spartans: to Detroit as the Detroit Lions, Lions in 1934Willis, 2010, p. 323–325.Peterson, 1997, p. 122.McDonough, 1994, p. 50. *Boston Redskins: to Washington, D.C. in 1937 *History of the Cleveland Rams, Cleveland Rams: to Los Angeles in 1946 *History of the Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals: to
St. Louis St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State ( ...

St. Louis
in 1960 *Los Angeles Chargers: to San Diego in 1961 (AFL) *Dallas Texans (AFL), Dallas Texans: to Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City as the Chiefs in 1963 (AFL) *Oakland Raiders: to Los Angeles in 1982 *History of the Baltimore Colts, Baltimore Colts: to Indianapolis in 1984 *History of the St. Louis Cardinals (NFL), St. Louis Cardinals: to Phoenix metropolitan area, Phoenix as the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988 (renamed Arizona Cardinals in 1994) *Los Angeles Rams: to St. Louis in 1995 *History of the Los Angeles Raiders, Los Angeles Raiders: back to Oakland, California, Oakland in 1995 *History of the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers: temporarily to Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis in 1997 as the Tennessee Oilers and permanently to Nashville, Tennessee, Nashville in 1998 (renamed Tennessee Titans in 1999) *History of the St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Rams: back to Los Angeles in 2016 *History of the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Chargers: back to Los Angeles in 2017 *History of the Oakland Raiders, Oakland Raiders: to Las Vegas in 2020


Quasi-moves: movement of more or less intact teams from one city to another

The NFL considers these separate franchises but there is significant continuity from one to the other *Canton Bulldogs: mothballed for the 1924 NFL season when the owner of the Cleveland Bulldogs bought it and took the players and nickname to
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North ...

Cleveland
. Franchise resurrected in 1925 *Cleveland Bulldogs: to Detroit, Michigan in 1928 as the Detroit Wolverines (NFL), Detroit Wolverines *Duluth Eskimos: to Orange, New Jersey as the Orange Tornadoes in 1929 (separate franchises but same players) *Newark Tornadoes: The Newark franchise was forfeited to the league and ordered to be disposed of to the highest bidder after the 1930 season. With no takers, the league owned-and-operated Cleveland Indians (NFL 1931), Cleveland Indians of 1931 took the Tornadoes' place, which in turn was filled by the Boston Braves (NFL), Boston Braves (now Washington Football Team franchise) in 1932. So, while it is possible that Newark or Cleveland franchise was sold to the Boston group in 1932, there is no documentation available. The Tornadoes themselves joined the minor-league American Association (football), American Association later in the 1930s and adopted the name ''Newark Bears''. *Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers corporate entities and players (but not franchises) swap cities after the 1940 NFL season after complex ownership deal. *Boston Yanks franchise to New York City as the New York Bulldogs in 1949 (separate franchise but same owner and players) *New York Yanks (formerly New York Bulldogs) folded after the 1951 NFL season; players transferred to new Dallas Texans (NFL), Dallas Texans franchise for the 1952 NFL season *Dallas Texans (NFL), Dallas Texans: operated out of Hershey, Pennsylvania for the last five games of the 1952 NFL season, playing their last three games in Akron, Ohio. Franchise folded after season's end and players awarded to new Baltimore Colts franchise in 1953 *Owners of the History of the Baltimore Colts, Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams traded franchises in 1972. *Cleveland Browns: to
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
as the Baltimore Ravens, Ravens in 1996. In 1995 Browns owner Art Modell announced plans to move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore for the 1996 NFL season. The NFL, the city of
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North ...

Cleveland
and Modell reached an agreement whereby the Browns franchise and history would remain in Cleveland to be resurrected by 1999. Modell was given a new franchise for Baltimore, made up of players from the 1995 Cleveland Browns season, 1995 Cleveland Browns. For more information on this particular move, see Cleveland Browns relocation controversy.


Franchise mergers

*The Detroit (1920s NFL teams), Detroit Tigers roster merged with the Buffalo All-Americans in November 1921. *The Brooklyn Lions and Brooklyn Horsemen of the American Football League (1926), 1926 AFL played in the NFL for the rest of the 1926 season: this franchise was given to the New York Yankees (NFL), AFL's New York Yankees in 1927. *The Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles merged to form the Steagles, Phil-Pitt "Steagles" for the 1943 season due to the exodus of players during World War II. The team split their home games between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. *The Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Cardinals merged to form Card-Pitt, for the 1944 season due to the exodus of players during World War II. The team split their home games between Pittsburgh and Chicago. *The Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL), Brooklyn Tigers (the same Brooklyn team that moved from Dayton, Ohio, Dayton in 1930) and Boston Yanks, merged initially for the 1945 season, as simply "The Yanks." The team split home games between Brooklyn and Boston. The merger became permanent, as the Boston Yanks, after relocation of the Brooklyn franchise in 1946. *The Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference, AAFC and Los Angeles Rams of the NFL merged after the 1949 season, shortly before the two leagues merged entirely. *The Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills (AAFC), AAFC Buffalo Bills merged in 1950 after the Bills were denied entry into the NFL. *The New York Yankees (AAFC), AAFC New York Yankees team name and six players merged with New York Bulldogs to form the New York Yanks, with rest of the team being absorbed by the New York Giants.


Teams moving between cities/boroughs within their metropolitan area, chronologically by team's first such move

*Orange Tornadoes to nearby Newark, New Jersey in 1930, renamed the Newark Tornadoes *Oakland Raiders: from San Francisco to Oakland, California, Oakland (''Frank Youell Field'', and later the ''Oakland Coliseum'') in 1962 *New York Giants: from Manhattan (''Polo Grounds'') to The Bronx (''Yankee Stadium'') in 1956, temporarily relocated to New Haven, Connecticut (''Yale Bowl'') for the second half of the 1973 and the entire 1974 season, then temporarily relocated to Queens (''Shea Stadium'') for the 1975 season, then permanently to East Rutherford, New Jersey (''Giants Stadium''/''MetLife Stadium'') in 1976 *Philadelphia Eagles: between three Philadelphia neighborhoods—North Philadelphia to University City, Philadelphia, University City in 1958, and then on to South Philadelphia (''Veterans Stadium/Lincoln Financial Field'') in 1971 *New York Jets: from Manhattan (''Polo Grounds'') to Queens (''Shea Stadium'') in 1964 and to East Rutherford, New Jersey (''Giants Stadium''/''MetLife Stadium'') in 1984 *Pittsburgh Steelers: from the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland (Pittsburgh), Oakland (''Forbes Field/Pitt Stadium'') to the city's North Shore (Pittsburgh), North Shore (''Three Rivers Stadium/Heinz Field'') in 1970 *San Francisco 49ers: from Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (''Kezar Stadium'') to the Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco, Hunters Point, San Francisco neighborhood (''Candlestick Park'') in 1971, and south to Santa Clara, California (''Levi's Stadium'') in 2014 *Dallas Cowboys: from Dallas (''Cotton Bowl (stadium), Cotton Bowl'') to Irving, Texas (''Texas Stadium'') in 1971, to Arlington, Texas (''AT&T Stadium'') in 2009 *Boston Patriots: from the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood of Boston (''Nickerson Field'' and ''Fenway Park'') to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Chestnut Hill ''(Alumni Stadium)'' in 1969, to the Allston neighborhood of Boston (''Harvard Stadium'') in 1970, then to Foxborough, Massachusetts in 1971 (''Foxboro Stadium/Gillette Stadium'') and renamed New England Patriots *Buffalo Bills: to Orchard Park (town), New York, Orchard Park, New York (''Highmark Stadium (New York), Highmark Stadium'') in 1973 *Detroit Lions: to Pontiac, Michigan (''Pontiac Silverdome'') in 1975 and back to Detroit (''Ford Field'') in 2002 *New Orleans Saints: from Uptown New Orleans (''Tulane Stadium'') to the New Orleans Central Business District, Central Business District (''Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Superdome'') in 1975 *Los Angeles Rams: to Anaheim, California (''Angel Stadium, Anaheim Stadium'') in 1980; after returning to Los Angeles in 2016, from Los Angeles proper (''Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum'') to Inglewood, California, Inglewood (''SoFi Stadium'') in 2020 *Minnesota Vikings: from suburban Bloomington, Minnesota, Bloomington (''Metropolitan Stadium'') to downtown Minneapolis (''Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Metrodome'') in 1982. Temporarily moved within Minneapolis to the University of Minnesota campus (''TCF Bank Stadium'') starting in 2014 before returning to the Metrodome site at ''U.S. Bank Stadium'' in 2016. *Miami Dolphins: to unincorporated northern Miami-Dade County, Florida, Dade County (now the city of Miami Gardens, Florida, Miami Gardens) in 1987 (''Hard Rock Stadium'') *Washington Redskins: from Washington, D.C. (''Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, RFK Stadium'') to Landover, Maryland (''FedExField'') in 1997 (stadium's postal address was ''Raljon, Maryland'' until Redskins purchased by Daniel Snyder in 1999) *Arizona Cardinals: from the eastern Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Arizona, Tempe (''Sun Devil Stadium'') to the western suburb of Glendale, Arizona, Glendale (''State Farm Stadium'') in 2006 *Los Angeles Chargers: after returning to the Los Angeles area in 2017, from the suburb of Carson, California, Carson (''Dignity Health Sports Park'') to join the Rams in Inglewood (''SoFi Stadium'') in 2020


Temporary moves, in chronological order

The following are not actually relocations, but temporary moves because these teams' home stadiums were either under construction or otherwise adversely affected: *St. Louis Cardinals (NFL), St. Louis Cardinals: On October 12, 1964, the Cardinals' scheduled home game vs. the Baltimore Colts was moved to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium (Baltimore), Memorial Stadium as the St. Louis Cardinals, baseball Cardinals were using Busch Stadium I, Busch Stadium for the 1964 World Series, World Series. *Boston Patriots: Played the 1969 season at Boston College's Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Chestnut Hill and the 1970 season at Harvard Stadium before Schaefer Stadium opened in 1971. *Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons' October 5, 1969 home game vs. the Colts was shifted from Atlanta Stadium to Bobby Dodd Stadium, Grant Field at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football, Georgia Tech due to the Atlanta Braves hosting the New York Mets in the 1969 National League Championship Series. *Minnesota Vikings: The same day the Colts-Falcons game was moved, the Vikings' matchup with the Green Bay Packers was moved from Metropolitan Stadium to Memorial Stadium (University of Minnesota), Memorial Stadium at the University of Minnesota due to an 1969 American League Championship Series game between the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles. *Chicago Bears: Played September 27, 1970 game vs. Philadelphia Eagles at Ryan Field (stadium), Dyche Stadium at Northwestern University due to a new league requirement following the
AFL–NFL merger The AFL–NFL merger was the merger of the two major professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of ele ...
that all stadiums seat at least 50,000. After the city of Evanston, Illinois and Big Ten Conference rejected the Bears request to playing further games at Northwestern, they returned to Wrigley Field, which seated 47,000, for the remainder of 1970. The Bears moved to Soldier Field in 1971. *Oakland Raiders: On September 23, 1973, the Raiders' game vs. the Miami Dolphins was moved to California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California, Berkeley, home of the California Golden Bears football, University of California Golden Bears, due to a scheduling conflict with the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball, baseball team. *New York Jets: The Jets' October 21, 1973 home game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers was moved to Three Rivers Stadium due to the 1973 New York Mets season, New York Mets' participation in that season's 1973 World Series, World Series. Even though the Mets' last home game in the World Series was on Thursday, October 18 (Game 5), the contract between New York City, the Mets and Jets required the stadium be available for the Mets until the conclusion of their season. Game 7 of the World Series, on October 21, was at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. *New York Giants: The Giants played their home games at the Yale Bowl for most of 1973 and all of 1974, and in Shea Stadium in 1975 while Giants Stadium was under construction. The Giants were left Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium following week two of the 1973 season when the stadium in The Bronx was closed for renovations which lasted over two years. *San Francisco 49ers: On October 22, 1989, the 49ers' home game vs. the New England Patriots was played at Stanford Stadium, home of the Stanford Cardinal football, Stanford University Cardinal (and the site of Super Bowl XIX five years earlier), due to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Loma Prieta earthquake in northern California. *St. Louis Rams: played the first half of their inaugural 1995 season in St. Louis at Busch Memorial Stadium while construction of Trans World Dome was completed. *Carolina Panthers: The Panthers began play in 1995 but spent their first season at Memorial Stadium (Clemson), Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina as their Bank of America Stadium, new stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina was still under construction. *Seattle Seahawks: Played three games in 1994 at Husky Stadium as the Kingdome was undergoing emergency repairs, and returned there for the entire 2000 and 2001 seasons before Seahawks Stadium (now Lumen Field) was completed. *Chicago Bears: Spent the 2002 season at Memorial Stadium (Champaign), Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois while Soldier Field was being renovated. *San Diego Chargers: On October 27, 2003, the Chargers' home game vs. the Miami Dolphins was played at Sun Devil Stadium, then the home of the Arizona Cardinals, due to the Cedar Fire (2003), Cedar Fire in southern California. *New Orleans Saints: Due to Effect of Hurricane Katrina on the Louisiana Superdome, extensive damage to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Louisiana Superdome, their home stadium, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints played three home games of the 2005 season in the Alamodome in San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, where the team set up temporary operations, as well as four home games at Tiger Stadium (LSU), Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (and, officially, one at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey). The Saints returned to New Orleans in 2006. See also Effect of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans Saints. The Saints later returned to Giants Stadium in 2005, defeating the Jets 19–17 on November 27: it marked the first time since the early 1930s that an NFL team had played two regular-season games in a road stadium in the same season. *Minnesota Vikings: ** The roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Metrodome collapsed from heavy snowfall and high winds on December 12, 2010, forcing the Vikings' home game against the New York Giants to be postponed and played on Monday, December 13 at Ford Field in Detroit. Minnesota's next home game was relocated to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota while repairs to the roof took place. ** The Vikings returned to TCF Bank Stadium for the 2014 and 2015 seasons after the Metrodome was demolished and U.S. Bank Stadium was being built on that site. *Buffalo Bills: Due to a severe snow storm in late November 2014, the Buffalo Bills' home game against the New York Jets in week 12 was moved to Ford Field in Detroit. It was also postponed from Sunday, November 23 to Monday, November 24, with local markets showing the game on CBS: the Bills had already played in Detroit in 2014, defeating the Lions, 17–14, on October 5.


Ultimate disposition of the 15 charter franchises

By the start of the 1920 APFA season, the nascent National Football League was composed of 15 franchises. Of those teams, only two are still in operation (denoted in bold): * Akron Pros: Changed name to Akron Indians in 1926, but shut down in 1927. * Buffalo (NFL), Buffalo All-Americans: Changed name to Buffalo Bisons in 1924, Buffalo Rangers in 1926, and changed back to Buffalo Bisons in 1927 before suspending operations halfway through 1927. They resumed play in 1929, but folded following the season. City is currently represented by the Buffalo Bills, a charter member of the American Football League in 1960. * Canton Bulldogs: Cleveland Bulldogs in 1923, but suspended operations in 1924, resuming play in Canton in 1925 before folding following the 1926 season. The city is currently represented by the preseason Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. *History of the Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals: Merged with Pittsburgh Steelers for one year in 1944, returned as an independent team in 1945. Moved to History of the St. Louis Cardinals (NFL), St. Louis in 1960, and to Phoenix in 1988. Changed name to Arizona Cardinals in 1994. * Chicago Tigers: Folded following 1920 season. * Cleveland Tigers (NFL), Cleveland Tigers: Folded following 1921 season. City is currently represented by the Cleveland Browns. * Columbus Panhandles: Changed name to Columbus Tigers in 1923, folded following 1926 season. * Dayton Triangles: Moved to Brooklyn as Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930, changed name to Brooklyn Tigers in 1944. Merged with Boston Yanks in 1945, but folded after 1945 season. Through multiple successor franchises, the current Indianapolis Colts can trace their indirect lineage to the Triangles. *Decatur Staleys: Moved to Chicago in 1921, changed name to Chicago Bears in 1922. * Detroit (NFL), Detroit Heralds: Changed name to "Tigers" and folded in the middle of the 1921 season, sending its players to Buffalo. City currently represented by the Detroit Lions. * Hammond Pros: Folded following 1926 season. * Massillon Tigers: Represented at the September 17, 1920, meeting by Ralph Hay but never played in the league and are only counted as a charter member on a technicality. * Muncie Flyers: Folded following 1921 season. * Rochester Jeffersons: Suspended operations following 1925 season, and folded in 1928. * Rock Island Independents: Left the NFL and became an independent team following 1924 season. Joined the first American Football League in 1926, but folded before end of the season.


See also

*Timeline of the National Football League *List of defunct National Football League franchises, Defunct NFL franchises


References


Bibliography

* ''Official 2005 National Football League Record and Fact Book''. New York: Time Inc. Home Entertainment. (2005). * Carroll, Bob; with Gershman, Michael, Neft, David, and Thorn, John (1999). ''Total Football:The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League''. New York: HarperCollins. * McDonough, Will (1994). ''75 Seasons: The Complete Story of the National Football League''. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc. * Peterson, Robert W. (1997). ''Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football''. New York: Oxford University Press. * Willis, Chris (2010). ''The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr''. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc. {{DEFAULTSORT:Franchise moves and mergers History of the National Football League National Football League controversies National Football League lists National Football League franchise relocations,