National Football League
The National Football League is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided between the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference. The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, the highest professional level of American football in the world; the NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, held in the first Sunday in February, is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC; the NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association before renaming itself the National Football League for the 1922 season. The NFL agreed to merge with the American Football League in 1966, the first Super Bowl was held at the end of that season. Today, the NFL has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world and is the most popular sports league in the United States.
The Super Bowl is among the biggest club sporting events in the world and individual Super Bowl games account for many of the most watched television programs in American history, all occupying the Nielsen's Top 5 tally of the all-time most watched U. S. television broadcasts by 2015. The NFL's executive officer is the commissioner; the players in the league belong to the National Football League Players Association. The team with the most NFL championships is the Green Bay Packers with thirteen; the current NFL champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII for their sixth Super Bowl championship. On August 20, 1920, a meeting was held by representatives of the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Dayton Triangles at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio; this meeting resulted in the formation of the American Professional Football Conference, a group who, according to the Canton Evening Repository, intended to "raise the standard of professional football in every way possible, to eliminate bidding for players between rival clubs and to secure cooperation in the formation of schedules".
Another meeting was held on September 17, 1920 with representatives from teams from four states-Akron, Canton and Dayton from Ohio. The league was renamed to the American Professional Football Association; the league elected Jim Thorpe as its first president, consisted of 14 teams. The Massillon Tigers from Massillon, Ohio was at the September 17 meeting, but did not field a team in 1920. Only two of these teams, the Decatur Staleys and the Chicago Cardinals, remain. Although the league did not maintain official standings for its 1920 inaugural season and teams played schedules that included non-league opponents, the APFA awarded the Akron Pros the championship by virtue of their 8–0–3 record; the first event occurred on September 26, 1920 when the Rock Island Independents defeated the non-league St. Paul Ideals 48–0 at Douglas Park. On October 3, 1920, the first full week of league play occurred; the following season resulted in the Chicago Staleys controversially winning the title over the Buffalo All-Americans.
On June 24, 1922, the APFA changed its name to the National Football League. In 1932, the season ended with the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans tied for first in the league standings. At the time, teams were ranked on a single table and the team with the highest winning percentage at the end of the season was declared the champion; this method had been used since the league's creation in 1920, but no situation had been encountered where two teams were tied for first. The league determined that a playoff game between Chicago and Portsmouth was needed to decide the league's champion; the teams were scheduled to play the playoff game a regular season game that would count towards the regular season standings, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, but a combination of heavy snow and extreme cold forced the game to be moved indoors to Chicago Stadium, which did not have a regulation-size football field. Playing with altered rules to accommodate the smaller playing field, the Bears won the game 9–0 and thus won the championship.
Fan interest in the de facto championship game led the NFL, beginning in 1933, to split into two divisions with a championship game to be played between the division champions. The 1934 season marked the first of 12 seasons in which African Americans were absent from the league; the de facto ban was rescinded in 1946, following public pressure and coinciding with the removal of a similar ban in Major League Baseball. The NFL was always the foremost pro
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws; the team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play is mandated. Players advance the ball by bouncing it while walking or running or by passing it to a teammate, both of which require considerable skill. On offense, players may use a variety of shots -- a dunk, it is a violation to lift or drag one's pivot foot without dribbling the ball, to carry it, or to hold the ball with both hands resume dribbling.
The five players on each side at a time fall into five playing positions: the tallest player is the center, the tallest and strongest is the power forward, a shorter but more agile big man is the small forward, the shortest players or the best ball handlers are the shooting guard and the point guard, who implements the coach's game plan by managing the execution of offensive and defensive plays. Informally, players may play three-on-three, two-on-two, one-on-one. Invented in 1891 by Canadian-American gym teacher James Naismith in Springfield, United States, basketball has evolved to become one of the world's most popular and viewed sports; the National Basketball Association is the most significant professional basketball league in the world in terms of popularity, salaries and level of competition. Outside North America, the top clubs from national leagues qualify to continental championships such as the Euroleague and FIBA Americas League; the FIBA Basketball World Cup and Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament are the major international events of the sport and attract top national teams from around the world.
Each continent hosts regional competitions for national teams, like FIBA AmeriCup. The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament feature top national teams from continental championships; the main North American league is the WNBA, whereas strongest European clubs participate in the EuroLeague Women. In early December 1891, Canadian James Naismith, a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School in Springfield, was trying to keep his gym class active on a rainy day, he sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters. After rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, balls had to be retrieved manually after each "basket" or point scored.
Basketball was played with a soccer ball. These round balls from "association football" were made, at the time, with a set of laces to close off the hole needed for inserting the inflatable bladder after the other sewn-together segments of the ball's cover had been flipped outside-in; these laces could dribbling to be unpredictable. A lace-free ball construction method was invented, this change to the game was endorsed by Naismith; the first balls made for basketball were brown, it was only in the late 1950s that Tony Hinkle, searching for a ball that would be more visible to players and spectators alike, introduced the orange ball, now in common use. Dribbling was not part of the original game except for the "bounce pass" to teammates. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. Dribbling was common by 1896, with a rule against the double dribble by 1898; the peach baskets were used until 1906 when they were replaced by metal hoops with backboards.
A further change was soon made, so the ball passed through. Whenever a person got the ball in the basket, his team would gain a point. Whichever team got; the baskets were nailed to the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, but this proved impractical when spectators in the balcony began to interfere with shots. The backboard was introduced to prevent this interference. Naismith's handwritten diaries, discovered by his granddaughter in early 2006, indicate that he was nervous about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children's game called duck on a rock, as many had failed before it. Frank Mahan, one of the players from the original
The Minnesota Vikings are a professional American football team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings joined the National Football League as an expansion team in 1960, first took the field for the 1961 season; the team competes in the National Football Conference North division. During the 1960s, the Vikings' record was typical for an expansion franchise, but improved over the course of the decade, resulting in a Central Division title in 1968. In 1969, their dominant defense led to the Vikings' league championship, the last NFL championship prior to the merger of the NFL with the AFL; the team plays its home games at U. S. Bank Stadium in the Downtown East section of Minneapolis. Professional football in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area began with the Minneapolis Marines/Red Jackets, an NFL team that played intermittently in the 1920s and 1930s. However, a new professional team in the area did not surface again until August 1959, when Minneapolis businessmen Bill Boyer, H. P. Skoglund, Max Winter were awarded a franchise in the new American Football League.
Five months in January 1960, after significant pressure from the NFL, the ownership group, along with Bernard H. Ridder Jr. reneged on its agreement with the AFL and was awarded the National Football League's 14th franchise, with play to begin in 1961. Ole Haugsrud was added to the NFL team ownership because, in the 1920s, when he sold his Duluth Eskimos team back to the league, the agreement allowed him 10 percent of any future Minnesota team. Coincidentally or not, the teams from Ole Haugsrud's high school, Central High School in Superior, were called the Vikings and had a similar purple-and-yellow uniform design and color scheme. From the team's first season in 1961 to 1981, the team called Metropolitan Stadium in suburban Bloomington home; the Vikings conducted summer training camp at Bemidji State University from 1961 to 1965. In 1966, the team moved to their training camp to Minnesota State University in Mankato; the training camp at Minnesota State was one of the longest continuously running training camp events in the NFL and is remembered as part of the golden era history of the team.
The Vikings played their home games at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis from 1982 to 2013; the Vikings played their last game at the Metrodome on December 29, 2013, defeating the Detroit Lions 14–13 to end the season. Since the team's first season in 1961, the Vikings have had one of the highest winning percentages in the NFL; as of 2017, they have won at least three games in every season except in 1962, are one of only six NFL teams to win at least 15 games in a regular season. The Vikings have won one NFL Championship, in 1969, before the league's merger with the American Football League. Since the league merger in 1970, they have qualified for the playoffs 27 times, third-most in the league; the team has played in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX, XI, though failing to win any of them. In addition, they have lost in their last six NFC Championship Game appearances since 1978; the team has 14 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The team was named the Minnesota Vikings on September 27, 1960.
From the start, the Vikings embraced an energetic marketing program that produced first-year season ticket sales of nearly 26,000 and an average home attendance of 34,586, about 85 percent of Metropolitan Stadium's capacity of 40,800. The capacity of Met Stadium was increased to 47,900. Bert Rose, former public relations director for the Los Angeles Rams, was appointed the team's first general manager; the search for the first head coach saw the team court then-Northwestern University head coach Ara Parseghian, according to Minneapolis Star writer Jim Klobuchar—the Vikings' first beat reporter for that newspaper—visited team management in the Twin Cities under the condition that his visit was to be kept secret from his current employer. His cover was blown by local columnist Sid Hartman, who reported the visit and forced Parseghian to issue denials. Philadelphia Eagles assistant Nick Skorich and a man with Minnesota ties, working in the CFL, Bud Grant, were candidates until a different Eagle, quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, was hired on January 18, 1961.
Van Brocklin had just finished his career as a player on a high note, having defeated the Green Bay Packers in the 1960 NFL Championship Game. As a new franchise, the Vikings had the first overall selection in the 1961 NFL Draft, they picked running back Tommy Mason of Tulane, they took a young quarterback from the University of Georgia named Fran Tarkenton in the third round. Notable veterans acquired in the offseason were Hugh McElhenny; the Vikings won their first regular season game, defeating the Chicago Bears 37–13 on Opening Day 1961. Reality set in -- 11 record; the losing continued throughout much of the 1960s as the Vikings had a combined record of 32 wins, 59 losses, 7 ties in their first seven seasons with only one winning season. On March 7, 1967, quarterback Fran Tarkenton was traded to the New York Giants for a first-round and second-round draft choice in 1967, a first-round choice in 1968 and a second-round choice in 1969. With the picks, Minnesota selected Clinton Jones and Bob Grim in 1967, Ron Yary in 1968 and Ed White in 1969.
On March 10, 1967 the Vikings hired new head coach Bud Grant to replace Van Brocklin, who had resigned on February 11, 1967. Grant came to the Vikings from the Canadian Football League as head coach for the
High school football
High school football is gridiron football played by high school teams in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both countries, it is popular amongst American High school teams in Europe. High school football began in the late 19th century, concurrent with the start of many college football programs. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many college and high school teams played against one another. Today, the oldest high school football rivalry dates back to 1875 in Connecticut, between the Norwich Free Academy Wildcats and the New London High School Whalers. High school football traditions such as pep rallies, marching bands and homecomings are mirrored from college football. No true minor league farm organizations exist in American football. Therefore, high school football is considered to be the third tier of American football in the United States, behind professional and college competition, it is the first level of play in which a player will accumulate statistics, which will determine his chances of competing at the college level, the professional level if he is talented enough.
In the 2000s and beyond, there has been growing concern about safety and long-term brain health, both regarding the occasional concussion as well as the steady diet of lesser hits to the head. The National Federation of State High School Associations establishes the rules of high school football in the United States; as of the next high school season of 2019, Texas is the only state that does not base its football rules on the NFHS rule set, instead using NCAA rules with certain exceptions shown below. Through the 2018 season, Massachusetts based its rules on those of the NCAA, but it adopted NFHS rules for 2019 and beyond. With their common ancestry, the NFHS rules of high school football are similar to the college game, though with some important differences: The four quarters are each 12 minutes in length, as opposed to 15 minutes in college and professional football. Kickoffs take place at the kicking team's 40-yard line, as opposed to the 35 in college and the NFL. If an attempted field goal is missed it is treated as a punt it would be a touchback and the opposing team will start at the 20-yard line.
However, if it does not enter the end zone, it can be returned as a normal punt. Any kick crossing the goal line is automatically a touchback; the spot of placement after all touchbacks—including those resulting from kickoffs and free kicks following a safety—is the 20-yard line of the team receiving possession. Contrast with NCAA and NFL rules, which call for the ball to be placed on the receiving team's 25-yard line if a kickoff or free kick after a safety results in a touchback. All fair catches result in the placement of the ball at the spot of the fair catch. Under NCAA rules, a kickoff or free kick after a safety that ends in a fair catch inside the receiving team's 25-yard line is treated as a touchback, with the ball spotted on the 25. Pass interference by the defense results in a 15-yard penalty, but no automatic first down. Pass interference by the offense results in a 15-yard penalty, from the previous spot, no loss of down; the defense cannot return an extra-point attempt for a score.
Any defensive player that encroaches the neutral zone, regardless of whether the ball was snapped or not, commits a "dead ball" foul for encroachment. 5-yard penalty from the previous spot. Prior to 2013, offensive pass interference resulted in a loss of down; the loss of down provision was deleted from the rules starting in 2013. In college and the NFL, offensive pass interference is only 10 yards; the use of overtime, the type of overtime used, is up to the individual state association. The NFHS offers a suggested overtime procedure based on the Kansas Playoff, but does not make its provisions mandatory. Intentional grounding may be called if the quarterback is outside the tackle box; the home team must wear dark-colored jerseys, the visiting team must wear white jerseys. In the NFL, as well as conference games in the Southeastern Conference, the home team has choice of jersey color. Under general NCAA rules, the home team may wear white with approval of the visiting team. NFHS rules prohibit the use of replay review if the venue has the facilities to support it.
In Texas, the public-school sanctioning body, the University Interscholastic League, only allows replay review in state championship games, while the main body governing non-public schools, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, follows the NFHS in banning replay review. At least one unique high school rule has been adopted by college football. In 1996, the overtime rules utilized by Kansas high school teams were adopted by the NCAA, although the NCAA has made two major modifications: starting each possession from the 25-yard line, starting with the third overtime period, requiring teams to attempt a two-point conversion following a touchdown. Thirty-four states have a mercy rule that comes into play during one-sided games after a prescribed scoring margin is surpassed at halftime or any point thereafter; the type of mercy rule varies from state to state, with many using a "continuous clock" after the scoring margin is reached, while other states end the game once the margin is reached or passed.
For example, Texas uses a 45-point mercy rule only in six-man football.
2009 Pro Bowl
The 2009 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's all-star game for the 2008 season. It was played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 8, 2009; this was the most recent year. The NFC defeated the AFC, 30–21; the AFC was coached by Baltimore's John Harbaugh, while the NFC's coach was Philadelphia's Andy Reid. Notes: a Replacement selection due to injury or vacancy b Injured player.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848, UW–Madison is the official state university of Wisconsin, the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System, it was the first public university established in Wisconsin and remains the oldest and largest public university in the state. It became a land-grant institution in 1866; the 933-acre main campus, located on the shores of Lake Mendota, includes four National Historic Landmarks. The University owns and operates a historic 1,200-acre arboretum established in 1932, located 4 miles south of the main campus. UW–Madison is organized into 20 schools and colleges, which enrolled 30,361 undergraduate and 14,052 graduate students in 2018, its comprehensive academic program offers 136 undergraduate majors, along with 148 master's degree programs and 120 doctoral programs. A major contributor to Wisconsin's economy, the University is the largest employer in the state, with over 21,600 faculty and staff.
The UW is one of America's Public Ivy universities, which refers to top public universities in the United States capable of providing a collegiate experience comparable with the Ivy League. UW–Madison is categorized as a Doctoral University with the Highest Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. In 2012, it had research expenditures of more than $1.1 billion, the third highest among universities in the country. Wisconsin is a founding member of the Association of American Universities; as of October 2018, 25 Nobel laureates and 2 Fields medalists have been associated with UW–Madison as alumni, faculty, or researchers. Additionally, as of November 2018, the current CEOs of 14 Fortune 500 companies have attended UW–Madison, the most of any university in the United States. Among the scientific advances made at UW–Madison are the single-grain experiment, the discovery of vitamins A and B by Elmer McCollum and Marguerite Davis, the development of the anticoagulant medication warfarin by Karl Paul Link, the first chemical synthesis of a gene by Har Gobind Khorana, the discovery of the retroviral enzyme reverse transcriptase by Howard Temin, the first synthesis of human embryonic stem cells by James Thomson.
UW–Madison was the home of both the prominent "Wisconsin School" of economics and of diplomatic history, while UW–Madison professor Aldo Leopold played an important role in the development of modern environmental science and conservationism, articulating his philosophy of a "land ethic" in his influential book A Sand County Almanac. The Wisconsin Badgers compete in 25 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference and have won 28 national championships. Wisconsin students and alumni have won 50 Olympic medals; the university had its official beginnings when the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature in its 1838 session passed a law incorporating a "University of the Territory of Wisconsin", a high-ranking Board of Visitors was appointed. However, this body never accomplished anything before Wisconsin was incorporated as a state in 1848; the Wisconsin Constitution provided for "the establishment of a state university, at or near the seat of state government..." and directed by the state legislature to be governed by a board of regents and administered by a Chancellor.
On July 26, 1848, Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin's first governor, signed the act that formally created the University of Wisconsin. John H. Lathrop became the university's first chancellor, in the fall of 1849. With John W. Sterling as the university's first professor, the first class of 17 students met at Madison Female Academy on February 5, 1849. A permanent campus site was soon selected: an area of 50 acres "bounded north by Fourth lake, east by a street to be opened at right angles with King street", "south by Mineral Point Road, west by a carriage-way from said road to the lake." The regents' building plans called for a "main edifice fronting towards the Capitol, three stories high, surmounted by an observatory for astronomical observations." This building, University Hall, now known as Bascom Hall, was completed in 1859. On October 10, 1916, a fire destroyed the building's dome, never replaced. North Hall, constructed in 1851, was the first building on campus. In 1854, Levi Booth and Charles T. Wakeley became the first graduates of the university, in 1892 the university awarded its first PhD to future university president Charles R. Van Hise.
Research and service at the UW is influenced by a tradition known as "the Wisconsin Idea", first articulated by UW–Madison President Charles Van Hise in 1904, when he declared "I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every home in the state." The Wisconsin Idea holds that the boundaries of the university should be the boundaries of the state, that the research conducted at UW–Madison should be applied to solve problems and improve health, quality of life, the environment, agriculture for all citizens of the state. The Wisconsin Idea permeates the university's work and helps forge close working relationships among university faculty and students, the state's industries and government. Based in Wisconsin's populist history, the Wisconsin Idea continues to inspire the work of the faculty and students who aim to solve real-world problems by working together across disciplines and demographics. During World War II, University
The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League where the champion of the National Football Conference competes against the champion of the American Football Conference. The game is the culmination of a regular season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. Roman numerals are used to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 1967, following the 1966 regular season; the sole exception to this naming convention tradition occurred with Super Bowl 50, played on February 7, 2016, following the 2015 regular season, the following year, the nomenclature returned to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI, following the 2016 regular season. The upcoming Super Bowl is Super Bowl LIV, scheduled for February 2, 2020, following the 2019 regular season; the game was created as a part of the merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival, the American Football League. It was agreed that the two's champion teams would play in the AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the merger was to begin in 1970.
After the merger, each league was redesignated as a "conference", the game has since been played between the conference champions to determine the NFL's league champion. The National Football Conference leads the league with 27 wins to 26 wins for the American Football Conference; the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots have the most Super Bowl championship titles, with six. The New England Patriots have the most Super Bowl appearances, with eleven. Tom Brady has six Super Bowl rings, the record for the most rings won by a single player; the day on which the Super Bowl is played, now considered by some as an unofficial American national holiday, is called "Super Bowl Sunday". It is the second-largest day for U. S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day. In addition, the Super Bowl has been the most-watched American television broadcast of the year. S. television history are Super Bowls. In 2015, Super Bowl XLIX became the most-watched American television program in history with an average audience of 114.4 million viewers, the fifth time in six years the game had set a record, starting with Super Bowl XLIV, which itself had taken over the number-one spot held for 27 years by the final episode of M*A*S*H.
The Super Bowl is among the most-watched sporting events in the world all audiences being North American, is second to the UEFA Champions League final as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide. The NFL restricts the use of its "Super Bowl" trademark; because of the high viewership, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year, leading to companies developing their most expensive advertisements for this broadcast. As a result and discussing the broadcast's commercials has become a significant aspect of the event. In addition, popular singers and musicians including Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Prince, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga have performed during the event's pre-game and halftime ceremonies. For four decades after its 1920 inception, the NFL fended off several rival leagues. In 1960, it encountered its most serious competitor; the AFL vied with the NFL for fans.
The original "bowl game" was the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, first played in 1902 as the "Tournament East-West football game" as part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and moved to the new Rose Bowl Stadium in 1923. The stadium got its name from the fact that the game played there was part of the Tournament of Roses and that it was shaped like a bowl, much like the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut; the Tournament of Roses football game came to be known as the Rose Bowl Game. Exploiting the Rose Bowl Game's popularity, post-season college football contests were created for Miami, New Orleans, El Paso in 1935, for Dallas in 1937. By the time the first Super Bowl was played, the term "bowl" for any major American football game was well established. Lamar Hunt, owner of the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, first used the term "Super Bowl" to refer to the NFL-AFL championship game in the merger meetings. Hunt said the name was in his head because his children had been playing with a Super Ball toy.
In a July 25, 1966, letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Hunt wrote, "I have kiddingly called it the'Super Bowl,' which can be improved upon." The leagues' owners chose the name "AFL–NFL Championship Game", but in July 1966 the Kansas City Star quoted Hunt in discussing "the Super Bowl — that's my term for the championship game between the two leagues", the media began using the term. Although the league stated in 1967 that "not many people like it", asking for suggestions and considering alternatives such as "Merger Bowl" and "The Game", the Associated Press reported that "Super Bowl" "grew and grew and grew-until it reached the point that there was Super Week, Super Sunday, Super Teams, Super Players, ad infinitum". "Super Bowl" became official beginning with the third annual game. Roman numerals were first affixed for the fifth edition, in January 1971. After the NFL's Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, some team owners feared for the future of the merger. At the time, many doubted the c