Around 800 BCE the Greeks played a game called ‘episkyros’ with some coincidental similarities to US football. The game was played between two teams of usually 12 - 14 players each, with one ball and the rules of the game allowed using hands. There was a white line between the teams and another white line behind each team. Teams would change the ball often until one of the team was forced behind the line at their end. The ball was made of leather pieces sewn together and painted with vivid colors and geometric shapes.
Photo: Greek marble relief of a man with a ball on his knee (400 BCE). Athens Archeological Museum.