The Association of Professional Football Leagues was a compact formed in 1946 among the National Football League and three minor leagues of professional American football: the American Association (which subsequently changed its name to the American Football League), the Dixie League, and the Pacific Coast Professional Football League. While the NFL had an informal farm system in the pre-World War II AA, this was the first time in which it had a working arrangement with multiple leagues whose local popularity rivaled that of the major league. The agreement lasted less than two years, its termination triggered by the folding of the Dixie League after one of its members jumped to the American Football League one week into the 1947 season.
In the years immediately before the beginning of US involvement in World War II, the local popularity of the Dixie League, the American Association, and the Pacific Coast Professional Football League rivaled that of the NFL (which, in 1940–1941, was battling with an upstart "major league," the third American Football League, which had been raiding the rosters of NFL teams to stock its own), and the NFL had working arrangements with five of the six teams in the AA. The PCPFL benefited from the absence of the NFL west of the Mississippi River and fierce rivalries in the Los Angeles area; similarly, the Dixie League had its strength of support in Virginia and North Carolina (half of the teams were based in the Hampton Roads area), away from the presence of the NFL.
Prior to the 1941 season, the NFL proposed a nationwide “Commissioner of Football” that would govern all major and minor professional football leagues in the United States, similar in scope to the authority wielded by the Commissioner of Baseball, and hired Elmer Layden in that capacity.Then-president Carl Storck was to remain president of the NFL itself, but because he believed the requirements of the position were too vague (and because of declining health), he resigned, and Layden took up both duties, which have been united ever since.
In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, every American professional league was at a crossroads as the American entry into World War II meant that the number of men available to play football would be greatly diminished.The NFL and PCPFL opted to continue; the AA and Dixie League suspended operations after planning to continue play after the end of the war (the third AFL made a similar decision, but did not return).
In September 1945, Harry Howren, owner of the Norfolk Shamrocks of the Dixie League, revealed in an announcement that not only was the league reorganizing for the 1946 season, but it was also planning to attend a meeting with the AA (which was also reorganizing under a new name, the American Football League) and the PCPFL. Howren also stated, "We want full recognition by the National Football League and its assistance in its protection of players."In the meantime, the NFL's former Cleveland Rams and the newly formed All-America Football Conference announced intentions of playing on the West Coast.
On March 24, 1946, PCPFL president J. Rufus Klawans announced the formation of the Association of Professional Football leagues, with Klawans as chairman and Joe Rosentover, AFL president, as vice chairman.In the announcement, Klawans explained that the association was formed to restrict the jumping of players from one member league to another and to recognize the "territorial rights of its members." He added, "We hope the National as well as all new football leagues, such as the All-America conference… will join our association for the good of professional football." Later that day, NFL president Bert Bell announced that his league would also join after agreeing on few terms with the minor leagues. The AAFC did not become a member.
The agreement between the "big three" leagues and the NFL had several provisions.
The NFL agreed to resolve scheduling conflicts with the PCPFL regarding their operations in Los Angeles, where the Bulldogs were the established team and the Rams, formerly based in Cleveland, were the newcomers.
The minor leagues agreed to uphold a five-year ban on NFL players who jumped from the major league to the "big three" (actually just the PCPFL, who signed away several NFL players in 1945, while the other two leagues were inactive). This provision was later applied to players who jumped to the AAFC or any other "outlaw league."
The compact permitted the NFL to establish working relationships with teams in all three minor league circuits (while the AA had such an arrangement with the NFL prior to 1945,the Dixie League did not; the PCPFL generally did not embrace the concept ).
A mechanism was put in place to prevent the NFL teams from stockpiling players in the AFL and the Dixie League. Under this prevision, if a player from an NFL team were to be sent to its "farm team," he must be either kept by the destination team or become a free agent. If he were kept by the farm team and later recalled by the NFL team, he could not be returned to the farm team without first becoming a free agent.
While the agreement dealt with rights concerning the movement and hiring of players, it remained silent in terms of territorial rights between minor league teams. It proved to be a fatal error.
After a 1946 season that saw continued success for the minor leagues, and the NFL weathering the AAFC challenge, no one could envision the quickness of the demise of the Association of American Professional Football Leagues the following fall.
Just before the start of the 1947 season, two members of the Dixie League dropped out of the league, leaving the circuit with only four competing teams. – and the Association of American Professional Football Leagues – could do nothing about it.On October 5, 1947, they played the first games of the season. Three days later, the Richmond Rebels of the Dixie League purchased the assets of the defunct Long Island Indians of the AFL and jumped to the other league. Dixie League president Tom Hanes protested to NFL president Bert Bell, who agreed that he did not agree to such a shift, but since it didn’t involve any member team of the National Football League, he
Left with only three teams, the Dixie League folded the next day.The compact effectively ended when the DL collapsed. On February 4, 1948, the NFL officially ended it by dissolving the links to the AFL.
The Pacific Coast Professional Football League lasted one more season, limping to the end after the Los Angeles Bulldogs moved to a small stadium in Long Beach, California and canceled their last two scheduled games for the 1948 season, ending the league. The AFL lasted through the 1950 season as the transplanted Rebels won the last two championships before the league called it a day.
The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations to the game. However, the AAFC was ultimately unable to sustain itself in competition with the NFL. After its folding, three of its teams were admitted to the NFL: the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the original Baltimore Colts.
The Dayton Triangles were an original franchise of the American Professional Football Association in 1920. The Triangles were based in Dayton, Ohio, and took their nickname from their home field, Triangle Park, which was located at the confluence of the Great Miami and Stillwater Rivers in north Dayton. They were the longest-lasting traveling team in the NFL (1920–1929), and the last such "road team" until the Dallas Texans in 1952, who, coincidentally, descended from the Dayton franchise and whose players and assets were moved to Baltimore and eventually Indianapolis where they now operate as the Colts, just 117 miles to the west of their origin, keeping their color scheme through the years and, ultimately, never missing a season in some form.
The Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) is an organization of researchers whose mission is to preserve and, in some cases, reconstruct professional football history. It was founded on June 22, 1979 in Canton, Ohio by writer/historian Bob Carroll and six other football researchers and is currently headed by an executive committee led by its president, Ken Crippen, and executive director Mark L. Ford. Membership in the organization includes some of professional football's foremost historians and authors. The organization is based in Grand Island, New York.
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 Los Angeles Dons were an American football team in the newly formed football league the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) from 1946 to 1949, and played their home games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Dons were the first professional football team to play a regular season game in Los Angeles, California, two weeks before the first game of the rival Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League, who had moved from Cleveland.
The Buffalo Bills were an American football team, based in Buffalo, New York, that played in the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1949. During its first season in 1946, the team was known as the Buffalo Bisons. Unlike the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts, the franchise was not one of the three AAFC teams that merged with the National Football League prior to the 1950 season. It was named after Buffalo Bill.
Mac Curtis Speedie was an American football end who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL) for seven years before joining the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Canada. He later served for two years as head coach of the American Football League's Denver Broncos. A tall and quick runner whose awkward gait helped him deceive defenders and get open, Speedie led his league in receptions four times during his career and was selected as a first-team All-Pro six times. His career average of 800 yards per season was not surpassed until two decades after his retirement, and his per-game average of 50 yards went unequalled for 20 years after he left the game.
The Midwest Football League (MFL) was a minor professional American football league that existed from 1935 to 1940. Originally comprising teams from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, the league eventually expanded its reach to include teams from Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and California to become a national league with major league aspirations by 1939. In 1938, the league became the American Professional Football League after the collapse of the second major league of the same name, but changed its name once again the following year to American Professional Football Association (APFA). Some sources refer to it as the American Professional Football League.
The Pacific Coast Professional Football League (PCPFL), also known as the Pacific Coast Football League (PCFL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL) was a professional American football league based in California. It operated from 1940 through 1948. One of the few minor American professional sports leagues that competed in the years of World War II, the PCPFL was regarded as a minor league of the highest level, particularly from 1940 to 1945, at a time in which the major National Football League did not extend further west than Chicago and Green Bay. It was also the first professional football league to have a team based in Hawaii.
The Los Angeles Bulldogs were a professional American football team that competed from 1936 to 1948. Formed with the intention of joining the National Football League in 1937, the Bulldogs were the first team on the major league level to play its home games on the American West Coast. They considered "the best football team in existence outside the NFL".
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 "Dixie League" was a professional American football minor league founded in 1936 originally as the "South Atlantic Football Association", with six charter member teams in the Middle Atlantic states of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Like the American Association (nicknamed the 'A.A.', which was another minor league in pro football that formed in 1936,, its popularity rivaled that of another earlier established "major league" grouping, the National Football League of 1922. Unlike most professional football minor leagues, the "Dixie League" had a relative stability in membership during the "Great Depression" in the years prior to World War II, maintaining a five or six-team lineup membership of franchises.
The Buffalo Indians were a professional American football team that competed in the third American Football League in 1940 and in 1941. The team played its home games in Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York. Owned by the Buffalo American Legion, the Indians were managed by Earl "Red" Seick, who was also player-coach for the team for the first five games in 1940. While most of the AFL membership focused on raiding the rosters of the local members of the National Football League teams, the Indians concentrated on signing local talent, castoffs from the NFL, and men who played in the defunct second American Football League.
In the United States and Canada, the term professional football includes the professional forms of American and Canadian gridiron football. In common usage, it refers to former and existing major football leagues in either country. Currently, there are multiple professional football leagues in North America: the two best known are the National Football League (NFL) in the U.S. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada. American football leagues have existed in Europe since the late 1970s, with competitive leagues all over Europe hiring American Imports to strengthen rosters. The Austrian Football League and German Football League top division are known as the best leagues in Europe. The Japan X-League is also a strong league that has a long history since 1971. The NFL has existed continuously since being so named in 1922.
The Commissioner of the NFL is the chief executive officer of the National Football League (NFL).
Charles Bernard Fenenbock was an American football player who starred in college at UCLA, and professionally in the Pacific Coast Professional Football League (PCPFL), the National Football League (NFL), the All America Football Conference (AAFC), and the Canadian Football League (CFL). Notably he was a running back for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, and for the Los Angeles Dons in the AAFC where he led the league in numerous offensive categories.
Joseph Rosentover became the manager and president of the American Association football league in 1936 and also became the president of Atlantic Coast Football League in 1963.
Minor league football is a loose term for pro football (gridiron) which is played below the major league level. There is a major league designation to the National Football League and the Canadian Football League, but contrary to the other major sports in North America no formal development farm system is in use, after the NFL severed ties with all minor league teams in 1948, and again with the cancellation of NFL Europe in 2006. Since 2018 the CFL has a partnership agreement with the Professional American Football League of Mexico (LFA) for player development, but do not consider it as a minor league in the traditional sense.