|Claim to fame||first competitor of the National Football League (NFL)|
|No. of teams||9|
The first American Football League (AFL), sometimes called AFL I, AFLG, –1939), and General Charles X. Zimmerman, (1865–1926), as vice president and starring Hall of Fame halfback Harold Edward "Red" Grange, (1903–1991), the short-lived league with nine teams competed against the more established – then six-year-old – NFL, both for players and for fans. While Pyle's and Grange's New York Yankees team and the already established Philadelphia Quakers became reliable draws, the lack of star power and the uncertain financial conditions of the other seven teams led to the league's dissolution after one season.or the Grange League, was a professional American football league that operated in 1926. It was the first major competitor to the National Football League (NFL). Founded by Charles "C.C." Pyle, (1882
The controversial ending of the National Football League's 1925 season led to the founding of the first AFL by Red Grange's agent, C. C. Pyle.In an era in which no professional football team had a prearranged schedule (each team was responsible for booking its own games, with virtually no limitations as to the number of games), the Pottsville Maroons were hailed as the NFL champions by several newspapers after Pottsville defeated the Chicago Cardinals on December 6, even though there were still two weeks left in the season.
Cardinals owner Chris O’Brien hastily arranged for two more games: one against the Milwaukee Badgers the following Thursday, another against the Hammond Pros two days later, even though both teams had already disbanded for the season. –Pros game was an exhibition game between Pottsville and an all-star team consisting of former Notre Dame players at Shibe Park, near the home of the Frankford Yellow Jackets, who protested the invasion of territorial rights by the Maroons.Two shutouts (59-0 and 13-0) later, the Cardinals claimed the top spot with an 11-2-1 record. Simultaneous with the Cardinals
Despite an order from NFL commissioner Joe Carr to cancel the exhibition, the Maroons proceeded to defeat the Notre Dame all-stars 9-7, scoring a field goal in the last minute.Carr immediately canceled the Maroons' scheduled game against the Providence Steam Roller and suspended the franchise. In the league meeting in January 1926, O’Brien refused to accept the championship, but the league record book remained unchanged, showing the Cardinals with an 11-2-1 record to the Maroons’ 10-2-0.
While NFL management was contemplating the penalties for the suspended Pottsville franchise (which was eventually reinstated with the payment of a moderate fine) in December, C. C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle surprised the league by requesting a franchise in New York City for himself and star back Red Grange and secured a five-year lease for baseball's Yankee Stadium, in direct competition to Tim Mara's year-old New York Giants. When Carr announced a ruling in favor of Mara's objection to Pyle's application for NFL membership, Pyle announced the formation of the first American Football League, featuring Grange and the New York Yankees. The NFL charter member Rock Island Independents left the then seven-year-old league to join the new AFL, and the upstart league matched the NFL in having a road team representing Los Angeles.
The new league chose former Princeton athlete, former New York City deputy of street cleaning, and former Newark, New Jersey chief of waste disposalBill Edwards as its league president and prepared to compete against the older league, (established 1920 and reorganized in 1922), for its talent and spectators. The AFL and NFL went to head-to-head competition in New York (Yankees and Giants), across the East River in Brooklyn (Horsemen and Lions), in Chicago (Bulls vs Bears and Cardinals), and in Philadelphia (Quakers and Yellow Jackets). The AFL's Cleveland Panthers, previously independent, were also preparing to go face-to-face with their hometown counterpart Cleveland Bulldogs, the earlier NFL champions of 1924, when Bulldogs owner Sam Deutsch decided to suspend the operations for 1926.
Boston Bulldogs . Coached by Herb Treat, Boston's first professional football team had been in financial difficulty from the beginning, having played only six games before folding in November 1926. Its lack of stars and lack of offense (only three points per game) doomed the franchise as the team failed to score a point in either of its two home games in a nearly empty stadium. Boston would wait until 1932 before it received another professional football franchise— the NFL’s Boston Braves, later briefly renamed the Redskins, and the Washington Redskins since 1937.
Brooklyn Horsemen . Coached by Eddie McNeeley, the Horsemen featured Notre Dame Four Horsemen Harry Stuhldreher and Elmer Layden. Unlike the other New York AFL team, Brooklyn suffered at the turnstiles. After only four games, the team was forced to merge with its NFL counterpart (the Lions), played three games in the NFL as the Brooklyn Lions (all shutouts), and winked out of existence at the end of the season.
Chicago Bulls . Owned and coached by Joey Sternaman (brother of Chicago Bears owner Dutch Sternaman), the Bulls featured the younger Sternaman as quarterback. While the Bulls' owner created havoc within the Chicago Cardinals by securing a lease for Comiskey Park (forcing the Cardinals into a much smaller Normal Field) and attempting to sign their star halfback Paddy Driscoll (who wound up on the Bears as a result of a trade), the Bulls quarterback provided the bulk of the team's offense, scoring 52 of the Bulls’ 88 points in 14 games. The Bulls were one of only four AFL teams still playing at the end of the season.
Cleveland Panthers . The Panthers had existed as an independent team since 1919, mostly playing teams from upstate New York. Coached by Roy Watts, the Panthers featured six players who played for the NFL’s Cleveland Bulldogs in the 1925 season: Al Michaels, Al Nesser, Dick Wolf, Dave Noble, Ralph Vince and Doc Elliott. Despite having a potent offense and a winning record, the Panthers drew poorly at home aside from the league-opening game. The team left the AFL hours after losing to the Los Angeles Wildcats road team on October 31; they would return to independent status until folding in 1933.
Los Angeles Wildcats (some news sources referred to the team as the "L.A. Wilson Wildcats"). Named after former University of Washington star halfback Wildcat Wilson and owned by C. C. Pyle and Red Grange, the Wildcats were strictly a traveling team based in Rock Island, Illinois. With only one exception, the entire roster consisted of players who competed for colleges located west of the Rockies. One of its 14 games was played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (December 8: New York won, 28-0). Jim Clark was the head coach.
Newark Bears . Owned by the New Jersey Athletic Association (William Coughlin, president) and coached by Hal Hansen, the Bears featured a backfield consisting of players who attended college in Georgia at Georgia Tech and Oglethorpe College. The Bears scored a touchdown in its first game, a 7-7 tie with Chicago, and then did not score again in its remaining four games. Newark was the first AFL to fold, calling it quits after playing Rock Island to a scoreless tie in front of 400 fans on October 24, 1926. For its final game, Newark changed its nickname to the Demons.
New York Yankees . Coached by Ralph Scott, the Yankees showcased Red Grange, quarterback George Pease, and wingback Eddie Tryon, a backfield who dominated the league in all offensive categories as the team finished in second place with a 10-5 record. While the rest of the league was starving at the turnstiles, the Yankees were a consistent draw. The Yankees were the only AFL team to outlast the league itself: the league dissolved as the Yankees were on a barnstorming tour of the South and West, and the Yankees entered the NFL as a continuation of the just-defunct Brooklyn franchise for the 1927 season. While New York Giants owner Tim Mara was officially the owner of the “new NFL franchise”, he leased it to C. C. Pyle and Red Grange to compete as the Yankees.
Philadelphia Quakers . The Quakers were a revival of an independent team which played one season in 1921 as an independent, and, before that, as the Union Club of Phoenixville from 1907 to 1920. Owned by Leo Conway and coached by Bob Folwell, the Quakers were the AFL’s only league champion, finishing with an 8-2 record and possessing a formidable line anchored by tackles Bull Boehman and Century Milstead. On December 12, 1926, the Quakers played an exhibition game in a snowstorm against the New York Giants in front of 5000 windblown fans, and lost 31-0. Like Chicago and the traveling Wildcats, the Quakers were still alive at the end of the sole AFL season but folded along with the league at the end of the year.
Rock Island Independents . A charter member of the NFL, the Independents left the established league to make the unique accomplishment of being a charter member of a second professional football league, the AFL. Coached by Johnny Armstrong, the Independents played their first three games at Rock Island and then played the rest of their games as a traveling team before entering oblivion on November 21, 1926.
|Philadelphia Quakers||8||2||0||.800||93||52||L. S. Conway||light blue/gold|
|New York Yankees||10||5||0||.667||212||82||C. C. Pyle||red/white/blue|
|Cleveland Panthers||3||2||0||.600||62||46||Charles Zimmerman||brown/gold|
|Los Angeles Wildcats||6||6||2||.500||105||83||C. C. Pyle||light brown|
|Chicago Bulls||5||6||3||.455||88||69||Joey Sternaman||orange/black|
|Boston Bulldogs||2||4||0||.333||20||81||Robert McKirby||dark blue|
|Rock Island Independents||2||6||1||.250||21||126||A. H. Bowlby||green/white|
|Brooklyn Horsemen||1||3||0||.250||25||68||Humbert Fugazy||maroon/black|
|Newark Bears||0||3||2||.000||7||26||William Coughlin1||purple/white|
1 President of the New Jersey Athletic Association, the organization to whom the franchise was assigned
The first AFL did not maintain individual statistics (the same was true of the NFL until 1934). In recent decades, researchers of the history of American football have compiled them from contemporaneous newspaper accounts. The following is reported by David S. Neft, Richard M. Cohen, and Rick Korch in The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional Football, From 1892 to the Present.
|Eddie Tryon||New York||72|
|Red Grange||New York||50|
|Wildcat Wilson||Los Angeles||25|
|Harry Fry||New York||18|
|Mal Bross||Los Angeles||14|
8 tied with 12 points each
|George Pease||New York||7|
|Wildcat Wilson||Los Angeles||4|
|Red Grange||New York||2|
8 tied with one touchdown pass each
|Red Grange||New York||3|
|Red Maloney||New York||2|
|Eddie Tryon||New York||2|
19 tied with one touchdown catch each
|Eddie Tryon||New York||6|
|Red Grange||New York||4|
|Duke Morrison||Los Angeles||2|
15 tied with one touchdown run each
|Jim Lawson||Los Angeles||2|
|Dick Reed||Los Angeles||2|
|Eddie Tryon||New York||1|
|Art Coglizer||New York||1|
While a new nine-team AFL was competing against a National Football League that expanded to 26 teams for the 1926 season, optimism yielded to economic reality for both leagues as most professional football franchises were on financially shaky ground. The war for talent and audience had a disastrous effect on all but the strongest teams. Of the 31 teams that were in existence in 1926, only 12 survived to play in 1927.
While the Yankees and the Quakers consistently drew large crowds, the rest of the AFL did not, and one by one AFL franchises went out of business, even with the financial assistance of C. C. Pyle. The first sign of trouble occurred in mid-October, when Rock Island played its last home game (of three consecutive) and started wandering like the Wildcats. The following week, Brooklyn played its third (and last) home game in the AFL, in front of mainly empty stands.On October 24, 1926, the Newark Bears changed its nickname to the Demons, played a scoreless tie with Rock Island, and disbanded hours after the end of the game. The following week saw the end of the Cleveland franchise.
November 1926 was not much brighter for the house of cards that was the American Football League. The Brooklyn Horsemen played the last three games of its existence (all shutout losses) and left the league when it merged with its NFL cousins, the Lions.By the middle of the month, the Boston Bulldogs called it quits, as did Rock Island a week later. By Thanksgiving of 1926, there were only four teams operating in the AFL (New York, Chicago, the Wildcats, and Philadelphia), with only the Quakers making a profit for the year (boosted in part by huge attendances stemming from the United States Sesquicentennial celebration and the very large stadium capable of hosting them) and Pyle was spending money to keep the other three teams afloat.
As the Yankees went on a barnstorming tour and the Quakers repeatedly tried to arrange for a game between champions of the two leagues, the Wildcats officially became inactive (in reality, they were touring with the Yankees as the "designated opponent"). The New York Giants (seventh place) accepted the Quakers’ challenge, opting for a game in the Polo Grounds on December 12, 1926. The Quakers’ hopes for both football credibility and a financial windfall evaporated in a blustery snowstorm as only 5000 witnessed complete domination of the AFL champs by the Giants. The final score was 31-0.
The same day, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Yankees met for the last American Football League game in Comiskey Park. The Yankees won, 7-3.The league was no more.
While the bulk of the AFL disappeared at the demise of the league, three members had an official existence after the Giants–Quakers game. Although the Brooklyn Horsemen disbanded after its last NFL game, the team's franchise was never withdrawn or cancelled by the league. Tim Mara purchased the franchise and proceeded to lease it to C. C. Pyle for his New York Yankees team. The agreement between the two rivals limited the number of home games that the Yankees were permitted to play in its namesake stadium (four in 1927) and forced Pyle's squad to be primarily a road team displaying the talents of Red Grange. This arrangement lasted for two years: the Yankees were no more after the 1928 season. The Cleveland Panthers, on the other hand, reverted to independent status, and played until 1934.
The Pottsville Maroons were an American football team based in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in the Northeastern part of the state. Founded in 1920, they played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1925 to 1928. In 1929 they relocated to Boston, where they played one season as the Boston Bulldogs.
The Orange Tornadoes and Newark Tornadoes were two manifestations of a long-lived professional American football franchise that existed in some form from 1887 to 1941 and from 1958 to 1970, having played in the National Football League from 1929 to 1930, the American Association from 1936 to 1941, the Atlantic Coast Football League from 1963 to 1964 and 1970, and the Continental Football League from 1965 to 1969. The team was based for most of its history in Orange, New Jersey, with many of its later years in Newark. Its last five seasons of existence were as the Orlando Panthers, when the team was based in Orlando, Florida. The NFL franchise was sold back to the league in October 1930. The team had four head coaches in its two years in the NFL – Jack Depler in Orange, and Jack Fish, Al McGall and Andy Salata in Newark.
The New York Yankees were a short-lived professional American football team from 1926 to 1929. The team was a member of the first American Football League in 1926, and later the National Football League from 1927 to 1929. They played their home games at Yankee Stadium. The team featured Red Grange at halfback.
The Rock Island Independents were a professional American football team, based in Rock Island, Illinois, from 1907–1926. The Independents were a founding National Football League franchise. They hosted what has been retrospectively designated the First National Football League Game on September 26, 1920 at Douglas Park. The Independents were founded in 1907 by Demetrius Clements as an independent football club. Hence, the team was named the "Independents."
The Brooklyn Dodgers were an American football team that played in the National Football League from 1930 to 1943, and in 1944 as the Brooklyn Tigers. The team played its home games at Ebbets Field of the baseball National League's team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1945, because of financial difficulties and the increasing scarcity of major league-level players because of the war-time defense requirements at the height of World War II, the team was merged with the Boston Yanks and were known as the Yanks for that season.
The 1926 NFL season was the seventh regular season of the National Football League. The league grew to 22 teams, a figure that would not be equaled in professional football until 1961, adding the Brooklyn Lions, the Hartford Blues, the Los Angeles Buccaneers, and the Louisville Colonels, with Racine Tornadoes re-entering. Cleveland Bulldogs sat out the season, the Rock Island Independents defected to the upstart American Football League, and the Rochester Jeffersons suspended operations for the final time. The Akron Pros re-branded as the Akron Indians, the Duluth Kelleys as the Duluth Eskimos and the Buffalo Bison as the Buffalo Rangers. .
The 1927 NFL season was the eighth regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, the league decided to eliminate the financially weaker teams. As a result, the league dropped from 22 to 12 teams. The league absorbed many players and one franchise from the defunct American Football League. Wilfrid Smith in the Chicago Tribune wrote that "the reduction formed a more compact circuit and provided better competition." Smith opined that the "outstanding feature" of the 1927 NFL season was the debut of Benny Friedman who became one of the game's "best drawing cards" and proved that professional football could support itself in Cleveland.
Throughout the years, a number of teams in the National Football League (NFL) have either moved or merged.
Timothy James Mara was the founding owner of the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). The Giants, under Mara, won NFL championships in 1927, 1934, 1938, and 1956 and divisional titles in 1933, 1935, 1939, 1941, 1944, 1946, and 1958.
The Philadelphia Quakers were a professional American football team that competed in the first American Football League in 1926 and won the league’s only championship.
The Boston Bulldogs were a professional American football team that competed in the first American Football League in 1926. Owned by Robert McKirby, the Bulldogs lasted only six games into the AFL season, playing one home game in Braves Field and one in Fenway Park. Coached by player-coach Herb Treat, the majority of the team played their college football in New England, Pennsylvania, and New York. The offense led by Joe McGlone was inconsistent, scoring a total of 20 points in its existence… 17 of which were tallied in one game. Erwin Gehrke and Carl Etelman shared the kicking duties. Bill Cronin, a tailback, scored the team's only offensive touchdown.
The 1925 National Football League (NFL) Championship, claimed by the Chicago Cardinals, has long been the subject of controversy. The controversy centers on the suspension of the Pottsville Maroons by NFL commissioner Joseph Carr, which prevented them from taking the title.
The American Football League (AFL) was a professional American football league that operated in 1936 and 1937. The AFL operated in direct competition with the more established National Football League (NFL) throughout its existence. While the American media generally ignored its operation, this second AFL was the first "home" of the Cleveland Rams, which joined the National Football League after one year in the AFL.
The 1926 American Football League season is the only season of the existence of the first American Football League. It started with nine teams, with the initial game of the season being played in front of 22,000 fans in Cleveland, Ohio, but by the end of the season, only four teams were still in existence: three teams owned or subsidized by league founder C. C. Pyle and star Red Grange and league champion Philadelphia Quakers. The initial lineup of teams included the traveling Wildcats and a charter member of the National Football League, the Rock Island Independents, which became a second traveling team after having poor attendance in its first three games.
The American Association (AA) was a professional American football league based in New York City. Founded in 1936 as a minor league with teams in New York and New Jersey, the AA extended its reach to Providence, Rhode Island prior to the onset of World War II. After a four-year hiatus, the league was renamed the American Football League as it expanded to include teams in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 1947, the Richmond Rebels of the Dixie League purchased the assets of the defunct AFL Long Island Indians and jumped leagues.
The Los Angeles Wildcats was a traveling team of the first American Football League that was not based in its nominal home city but in Chicago, Illinois. Coached by Jim Clark, the team was designed to be a showcase for University of Washington star back George “Wildcat” Wilson. Compared to most traveling teams in professional football, the Wildcats were successful, compiling a 6–6–2 record in the only season of the team's – and the league's – existence.
The Cleveland Panthers were a professional American football team. They were an independent team founded in 1919 from the remains of the Youngstown Patricians. The Panthers played, with various degrees of success, continuously from 1919 and eventually, as fewer opponents played them each year after 1926, sputtered to a quiet folding in 1933.
The Chicago Bulls were a professional American football team that competed in the first American Football League in 1926. Owned by Joey Sternaman, the Bulls also had AFL founders C. C. Pyle and Red Grange as shareholders. Joey Sternaman was also the coach and blocking back for the Bulls throughout their brief existence.
This article is a timeline of the National Football League (NFL). It tracks the history of each of the league's 32 current franchises from the early days of the league, through its merger with the American Football League (AFL). The history of franchises that began as independent teams, or as members of the Ohio League, New York Pro Football League, and other defunct leagues are shown as well.
The Brooklyn Lions were a National Football League team that played in the 1926 NFL season. The team was formed as the league's counter-move to the first American Football League, which enfranchised a team called the Brooklyn Horsemen, a professional football team that competed in the 1926 AFL season.