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The origin of professional football can be traced back to 1892, with William "Pudge" Heffelfinger's $500 contract to play in a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Pittsburgh's football circuit became fully professional over the course of the 1890s, culminating in the first professional league, the Major League Baseball-backed National Football League of 1902, which folded after one season. The core of professional football moved westward into Ohio beginning in 1903, where it would remain until a mass dispersal throughout the midwest in the late 1910s.
In 1920, the American Professional Football Association was formed as a coalition of teams from regional state associations such as the Ohio League and the New York Pro Football League. The first game was played in Dayton, Ohio on October 3, 1920 with the host Triangles defeating the Columbus Panhandles 14-0. The league changed its name to the National Football League (NFL) two years later; from its inception, the NFL had been the de facto major league of football. Initially a sport of Midwestern industrial towns in the United States, professional football eventually became a national phenomenon. Football's increasing popularity is usually traced to the 1958 NFL Championship Game, a contest that has been dubbed the "Greatest Game Ever Played".
A rival league to the NFL, the American Football League (AFL), began play in 1960; the pressure it put on the senior league led to a merger between the two leagues and the creation of the Super Bowl, which has become the most watched television event in the United States on an annual basis. Other professional leagues, both major (or at least attempting to be major) and minor, have formed but almost all have been short-lived. High school football dates to the 1880s and enjoys regional popularity.