The AAFC and NFL Agree to Merge
On December 9, 1949, two days before the AAFC title game, the two leagues made peace.
Three AAFC teams were admitted to the NFL: the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts. The Buffalo Bills, Brooklyn-New York Yankees, Chicago Hornets, and Los Angeles Dons folded. The enlarged league was renamed the National-American Football League.
The Browns and 49ers, as the AAFC's two strongest teams, were obvious choices. The third choice was the subject of some debate.
There was some sentiment to admit the Bills rather than the Colts, as the Bills had better attendance and the better team. However, Buffalo's size (only Green Bay was smaller) and climate were seen as problems. George Preston Marshall had long objected to the Colts' proximity to his Redskins. However, the choice was Baltimore after Marshall, deciding that Redskins-Colts could be an excellent rivalry, agreed to accept a $150,000 fee to waive his territorial rights.
Although Buffalo fans petitioned the NFL to admit the Bills as well, Buffalo owner Jim Breuil was content to accept a minority share of the Browns and the NFL was not inclined to add a fourth team. The popularity of the original franchise prompted Ralph Wilson (former minority owner of the Detroit Lions) to adopt the name "Buffalo Bills" for his American Football League franchise ten years later.
The Yankees' players were divided between the Giants (who chose six players) and Bulldogs (who received the rest). Three Bills players were awarded to the Browns. The remaining Bills, Dons, and Hornets entered a dispersal draft.
With the AAFC Yankees gone, Bulldogs owner Ted Collins was free to rename his team "Yanks" and move into Yankee Stadium. He continued to lose money, however, and sold the team to Dallas interests after two seasons.
The word "American" did not remain in the enlarged league's name for long. "National Football League" was restored in March 1950. Although "National" and "American" became the names of the league's new conferences, within three years the conferences were renamed Eastern and Western. It was not until the AFL-NFL merger twenty years later that the "American" and "National" conference names were restored.