Oldest teams in the NFL

Written by:
July 16, 2019
Scott Halleran // Getty Images

Oldest teams in the NFL

This year, the National Football League celebrates its 100th season. There will likely be a multitude of tributes and trips down memory lane this fall, providing a weekly lesson in football history. Before the season kicks off September 5, when the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers, Stacker decided to list the oldest teams in the NFL and delve into their histories on the gridiron. This includes the olden days of leather helmets and black-and-white broadcasts when fans attended games in dresses and suits and ties as opposed to painted faces and oversized jerseys.

The 32 teams are ranked by years active, with ties broken by the number of wins. The oldest teams are not necessarily the most successful when it comes to titles (the top two only have one Super Bowl title between them), while relative newcomers like the New England Patriots have trophy cases stuffed to the brim. The NFL hasn't added a new team since 2002, creating enough of a sample size for even the youngest of franchises to have its share of stars and marquee moments.

This list also details the extensive moves of several franchises, from trips in and out of Baltimore to the exodus and return to Cleveland. Several NFL teams have not only changed cities but also switched nicknames (did you know the New York Jets were once called the Titans, while the Tennessee Titans used to be the Houston Oilers?).

Training camps will be kicking off in a matter of weeks and before you know it, football season will be here. Click through to relive a century of football history, from heartbreaking Super Bowl losses to the gaudiest uniforms ever worn, as well as the only team to ever finish a season with a perfect, undefeated record.

You may also like: Famous NFL players from every state

1 / 32
Ronald Martinez // Getty Images

#32. Houston Texans

- Year founded: 2002
- Overall record: 124-156-0

Prior to the birth of the Texans, the Tennessee Titans franchise (formerly known as the Oilers) called Houston home. The Oilers left for Nashville after the 1996 season, leaving Houston without an NFL team for five seasons. The Texans have had a string of recent success since 2011, winning five division titles behind the talents of Andre Johnson, J. J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, and Arian Foster.

2 / 32
Al Bello // Getty Images

#31. Baltimore Ravens

- Year founded: 1996
- Overall record: 215-176-1

The Ravens are another team born out of relocation. Former Browns owner Art Modell ripped out the hearts of many Clevelanders when he announced his plans to relocate the city's NFL team to Baltimore (the Browns were re-established as an expansion team, beginning play in 1999). The Ravens returned pro football back to Baltimore, a city which was also the victim of a move in 1984 when the Colts fled to Indianapolis. The Ravens saw quick success, winning two Super Bowls (2002, 2012) on the strength of stout defense featuring the likes of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Ed Reed.

3 / 32
Doug Pensinger // Getty Images

#30. Jacksonville Jaguars

- Year founded: 1995
- Overall record: 177-221-0

The Jacksonville Jaguars began their winning ways early, taking two division titles in 1998 and 1999. Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith, and Mark Brunell were vital cogs of the ascent, but the Jaguars did not win another division title until 2017. They have often been the subject of relocation speculation, but current owner Shahid Khan appears set on keeping the team in Jacksonville, for now.

4 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#29. Carolina Panthers

- Year founded: 1995
- Overall record: 199-201-1

Similar to the Jaguars (the team they entered the NFL with in 1995), the Panthers experienced success out of the gate, winning a division title in 1996. A strong defense led by Kevin Greene and Eric Davis carried Carolina to the NFC Championship Game that season, a stage they'd also reach in 2003, 2005, and 2015. The Panthers remain 0-2 in Super Bowl matchups, but with Cam Newton at quarterback, they should remain a steady threat in the NFC South.

5 / 32
Rick Stewart // Getty Images

#28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

- Year founded: 1976
- Overall record: 266-424-1

For much of their existence, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have resided toward the bottom of the NFL standings (winning 38% of your games will have that kind of effect). While their play on the gridiron has not always inspired, at least aesthetically they have had some of the flashiest uniforms in NFL history. Despite their history, the Bucs can lay claim to one Super Bowl win, in 2002; 12 other teams cannot.

6 / 32
Tim DeFrisco // Getty Images

#27. Seattle Seahawks

- Year founded: 1976
- Overall record: 360-347-1

The Seahawks have long been known for their raucous fans and suffocating defense. This century, they have 12 playoff appearances, thanks to the performance of stars past and present including Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and Marshawn Lynch. Since 2005, the Seahawks have made three Super Bowls, including a championship in 2013.

7 / 32
Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#26. Cincinnati Bengals

- Year founded: 1968
- Overall record: 362-441-4

Earlier this decade, the Cincinnati Bengals were one of the NFL's most consistent franchises, making playoff appearances five straight seasons from 2011–15. However, the Bengals—from the Boomer Esiason era and the reign of Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson to today's regime helmed by Andy Dalton—still remain without a Super Bowl title. During the 1980s, the Bengals lost two heartbreaking Super Bowls at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

8 / 32
Tony Duffy // Getty Images

#25. New Orleans Saints

- Year founded: 1967
- Overall record: 371-446-5

While the Saints are now considered one of the NFL's premier franchises (thanks in large part to the skills of Drew Brees), they were once a laughingstock. Because of the team's subpar play, fans would attend games with paper bags on their heads, and the franchise became known as the ‘Aints. But since Brees arrived before the 2006 season, New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV and has made seven playoff appearances.

9 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#24. Atlanta Falcons

- Year founded: 1966
- Overall record: 368-466-6

The Falcons have fielded some of the NFL's most athletic players, from Deion Sanders to Michael Vick. Still, Atlanta has yet to win a Super Bowl—don't mention the numbers 28 and 3 to any Falcons fan. In Super Bowl LI, Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead, as the New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points for a comeback win.

10 / 32
Tony Duffy // Getty Images

#23. Miami Dolphins

- Year founded: 1966
- Overall record: 472-381-4

Dolphins fans, despite not winning a championship since the 1973 season, can still puff out their chests whenever debating NFL supremacy with rival fanbases. That's because during the 1972 season, Miami finished with a perfect 14-0 record, and they remain the only team to go undefeated en route to a title. That team was led by Bob Griese, Mercury Morris, and Larry Csonka on offense and the Dolphins' vaunted "No-Name Defense" on the other side of the ball.

11 / 32
Ken Levine // Getty Images

#22. Minnesota Vikings

- Year founded: 1961
- Overall record: 498-426-11

The Vikings pulled off one of the most miraculous plays in NFL history during the 2017 divisional-round playoffs, when Stefon Diggs caught a 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play to defeat the New Orleans Saints, 29-24. However, Minnesota fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game and remain without a Super Bowl title, going 0-4 in the big game. Included among this franchise's all-time greats are Fran Tarkenton, Cris Carter, Randy Moss, and Adrian Peterson.

12 / 32
Rick Stewart // Getty Images

#21. New York Jets

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 413-504-8
- Previous team names: New York Titans

The Jets are the owners of several iconic NFL moments, ranging from the good to the bad to the downright ugly. Good? In the 1968 season, Joe Namath guaranteed an upset victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, legitimizing the American Football League. The bad? Well, the Jets haven't reached a Super Bowl since Namath's boast. And the ugly? Can anyone say “Butt Fumble?”

13 / 32
Rick Stewart // Getty Images

#20. Buffalo Bills

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 429-493-8

In the early 1990s, the Buffalo Bills were kings of the AFC, making four straight Super Bowl appearances. The Bills, however, never reached the mountaintop of the NFL, falling in all four contests. Those teams were paced by a high-octane offense led by Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed, with Bruce Smith terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.

14 / 32
Rick Stewart // Getty Images

#19. Tennessee Titans

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 446-483-6
- Previous team names: Houston Oilers, Tennessee Oilers

One yard. That's how close the Tennessee Titans came to winning Super Bowl XXXIV (as Helen Hunt notably pointed out to Tom Hanks' character in “Cast Away”). While Kevin Dyson could not reach across the goal line on the final play, the Titans, who formerly played in Houston, do have a bright future with Marcus Mariota behind center.

15 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#18. Los Angeles Chargers

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 459-460-11
- Previous team names: San Diego Chargers

In recent years, when Los Angeles attempted to bring back an NFL team, the Chargers were at the center of relocation rumors. FInally, in 2017, the Chargers made the drive up Interstate 5 from San Diego, leaving behind a disappointed fanbase. A new stadium is expected to be completed in Inglewood, where a likely core of Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Derwin James, and Keenan Allen will attempt to win the franchise's first Super Bowl.

16 / 32
Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#17. Kansas City Chiefs

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 479-438-12
- Previous team names: Dallas Texans

One of the originals of the American Football League, the Chiefs are steeped in tradition. Owner Lamar Hunt was instrumental in helping the NFL flourish and presided over a Super Bowl IV champion. The Chiefs are chasing their next title on the backs of a high-powered offense led by Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, looking to avenge a crushing loss in the AFC Championship Game in January against the New England Patriots.

17 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#16. Oakland Raiders

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 491-442-11
- Previous team names: Los Angeles Raiders

This could be the last year of the Raiders' stay in Oakland, as the team is planning a move to Las Vegas in 2020. For almost 60 years, the Raiders have resided in California, winning three Super Bowl titles. Notorious for their gritty style of play, Ken Stabler, Howie Long, Marcus Allen, and Tim Brown are among those who have donned the silver and black.

18 / 32
Harry Benson // Getty Images

#15. Denver Broncos

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 499-433-10

After floundering for the first 25 years of their existence, the Broncos, led by John Elway, reached three Super Bowls in the late 1980s. But it took Elway and company almost another decade to the capture the Vince Lombardi Trophy, as Denver won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. As an executive, Elway oversaw another Super Bowl win in the 2015 season, with Peyton Manning helming the Broncos offense.

19 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#14. New England Patriots

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 537-411-9
- Previous team names: Boston Patriots

They may be in the middle of the pack when it comes to NFL longevity, but the Patriots are near the cream of the crop when it comes to Super Bowl wins. Thanks to the dynamic duo of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots have won six titles since the 2001 season. The first championship, in Super Bowl XXXVI, was secured by a last-second field goal to defeat the St. Louis Rams. Seventeen seasons later, the Patriots won their record sixth Super Bowl with a victory over the same Rams, now based in Los Angeles.

20 / 32
Stephen Dunn // Getty Images

#13. Dallas Cowboys

- Year founded: 1960
- Overall record: 547-408-6

Long heralded as "America's Team," the Cowboys have had a litany of success. Tony Dorsett, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Roger Staubach are just some of this franchise's Hall of Famers. Dallas is also notorious for its outspoken owner, Jerry Jones, whose creation of AT&T Stadium, AKA "Jerry World," cost more than $1 billion to build.

21 / 32
Tony Duffy // Getty Images

#12. Indianapolis Colts

- Year founded: 1953
- Overall record: 539-483-7
- Previous team names: Baltimore Colts

For the past 20 years, Colts fans have had an uncanny string of success at the quarterback position, the most difficult spot to anchor a team. First, Peyton Manning led Indianapolis to a Super Bowl win in the 2006 season, and now Andrew Luck, a four-time Pro Bowler and 2018's Comeback Player of the Year, holds down quarterback duties. In the past, other stud signal-callers like Earl Morrall and Johnny Unitas suited up for the Colts.

22 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#11. Cleveland Browns

- Year founded: 1950
- Overall record: 532-514-14

The Browns, taking into account their history from their first stint in Cleveland, are the oldest AFC team without a Super Bowl title. For many years, the Browns were the butt of jokes around the NFL, but prospects are looking up for the beleaguered franchise. With upstart Baker Mayfield at quarterback and a dynamic receiving corps including Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns have the tools to compete with the best in the league.

23 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#10. San Francisco 49ers

- Year founded: 1950
- Overall record: 601-507-16

The 49ers rose to prominence in the 1980s, led by Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, and a host of other stars, winning four Super Bowls. With Steve Young at quarterback, San Francisco added a fifth title in Super Bowl XXIX. Since then, the team reached one more Super Bowl led by Colin Kaepernick but have been largely rebuilding in recent years.

24 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#9. Los Angeles Rams

- Year founded: 1937
- Overall record: 589-588-21
- Previous team names: Cleveland Rams, Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Rams

After 21 years in St. Louis, the Rams returned to Southern California in 2016. Since then, they have been one of the league's most complete teams, evident by their Super Bowl run during the 2018 season. Twenty years after winning their only Super Bowl behind Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt, the current core of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald will try to capture title #2 this season.

25 / 32
Rick Stewart // Getty Images

#8. Philadelphia Eagles

- Year founded: 1933
- Overall record: 600-623-26

When the Eagles won their first Super Bowl two seasons ago, taking down the New England Patriots, Philadelphia fans reacted with raucous celebrations in the streets. Home to a passionate base of supporters, the Eagles had suffered through more heartbreak than success in their 80-plus years of existence, despite hosting a spate of legendary players from Reggie White to Brian Dawkins. Sometimes Eagles fans reacted so strongly to the team's performance, that a courtroom was set up inside Veterans Stadium to deal with the most unruly offenders.

26 / 32
Stephen Dunn // Getty Images

#7. Pittsburgh Steelers

- Year founded: 1933
- Overall record: 659-569-21
- Previous team names: Pittsburgh Pirates

Known for Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and those yellow “Terrible Towels,” the Steelers are one of the NFL's most successful franchises. Pittsburgh is tied with the New England Patriots for most Super Bowl championships at six and have been a part of some of the league's most historic plays like the “Immaculate Reception.” During a 1972 playoff game, a pass by Bradshaw was deflected off an Oakland Raiders defensive player, only for Harris to scoop up the ball before it hit the ground, allowing him to run in for the game-winning touchdown.

27 / 32
Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#6. Washington Redskins

- Year founded: 1932
- Overall record: 623-609-28
- Previous team names: Boston Braves

During a 10-year run spanning the early 1980s through the early 1990s, Washington won three Super Bowls. Since then the team has struggled to reclaim its glory days but hope that rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins can change the mojo.

28 / 32
Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#5. Detroit Lions

- Year founded: 1930
- Overall record: 566-671-32
- Previous team names: Portsmouth Spartans

The Lions are the second oldest team to never win a Super Bowl. They have long been known more for their futility on the football field than success, such as their 2008 campaign when they became the first team to lose all 16 games in a season. However, some of the game's greats have also suited up for the Lions, like Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson.

29 / 32
TG Higgins // Getty Images

#4. New York Giants

- Year founded: 1925
- Overall record: 716-621-33

New York's NFC team has the reputation of being giant-killers, particularly after defeating the New England Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. The first time, the Patriots entered Super Bowl XLII with an undefeated record but fell to the heroics of Eli Manning, David Tyree, and Plaxico Burress. Overall, the Giants have won four Super Bowls but now face the prospect of a rebuilding period with Manning reaching the end of his career.

30 / 32
Stephen Dunn // Getty Images

#3. Green Bay Packers

- Year founded: 1921
- Overall record: 777-593-38

The NFL's publicly owned team is the pride of Green Bay, Wis. Although the shares that fans can purchase of the four-time champions are largely ceremonial, few areas support their team like Wisconsinites do their NFL team (the team has reportedly sold out every home game since 1959, according to Sporting News' Arthur Weinstein). Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Reggie White are among the greats Packers fans have been able to cheer on over the years.

31 / 32
George Rose // Getty Images

#2. Arizona Cardinals

- Year founded: 1920
- Overall record: 560-762-40
- Previous team names: Chicago Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals

The oldest team to never win a Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals came closest in the 2008 season, when they lost a heartbreaking Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Larry Fitzgerald scored a go-ahead 64-yard touchdown with under three minutes to play, but Pittsburgh drove down the field and responded with the game-winning score with just 35 seconds remaining.

32 / 32
Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#1. Chicago Bears

- Year founded: 1920
- Overall record: 778-602-42
- Previous team names: Decatur Staleys, Chicago Staleys

The Chicago Bears are the NFL’s winningest team and a franchise full of history. Bronko Nagurski, George Halas, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Brian Urlacher, and Red Grange are just a few of the team’s legends, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame can often seem like a retelling of the Bears’ greatest triumphs. One moment Chicago fans would like to forget, though, is this past season’s playoff loss to the Eagles, when a game-winning field-goal attempt hit the upright and sent the Bears home for the winter.

Trending Now