American Football League (1926)

The first American Football League (AFL), sometimes called AFL I, AFLG,[1] 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, (1882–1939), 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.[2]

American Football League (1926)
SportAmerican football
Founded1926
Inaugural season1926
Ceased1926
Claim to famefirst competitor of the National Football League (NFL)
No. of teams9
CountryUnited States
Last
champion(s)
Philadelphia Quakers

Origin

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2] Two shutouts (59-0 and 13-0) later, the Cardinals claimed the top spot with an 11-2-1 record. Simultaneous with the Cardinals-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.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2]

The new league chose former Princeton athlete, former New York City deputy of street cleaning, and former Newark, New Jersey chief of waste disposal[3] Bill 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 opposites Cleveland Bulldogs, the earlier NFL champions of 1924, when Bulldogs owner Sam Deutsch decided to suspend the operations for 1926.[2]

Teams

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 later in 1932 before it received a professional football franchise in the NFL (the Boston Braves, later briefly renamed the Redskins, now the Washington Redskins since 1937).

The 1926 American Football League had teams playing in nine U.S. markets

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 also 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, featured a backfield consisting of people who attended college in Georgia (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.

1926 AFL standings

Team W L T Pct. PF PA Owner Colors[4]
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[5]

League leaders

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.[2]

Scoring

Name Team Pts.
Eddie Tryon New York 72
Joey Sternaman Chicago 52
Red Grange New York 50
Al Kreuz Philadelphia 34
Dave Noble Cleveland 31
Wildcat Wilson Los Angeles 25
Johnny Mohardt Chicago 24
Adrian Ford Philadelphia 18
Harry Fry New York 18
Bob Dinsmore Philadelphia 17
Mal Bross Los Angeles 14

8 tied with 12 points each

Touchdown Passes

Name Team Pts.
George Pease New York 7
Al Michaels Cleveland 4
Wildcat Wilson Los Angeles 4
Red Grange New York 2
Johnny Scott Chicago 2
Harry Stuhldreher Brooklyn 2

8 tied with one touchdown pass each

Touchdown Receptions

Name Team Pts.
Red Grange New York 3
Cookie Cunningham Cleveland 2
Red Maloney New York 2
Eddie Tryon New York 2

19 tied with one touchdown catch each

Rushing Touchdowns

Name Team Pts.
Eddie Tryon New York 6
Red Grange New York 4
Johnny Mohardt Chicago 4
Dave Noble Cleveland 3
Joey Sternaman Chicago 3
Duke Morrison Los Angeles 2

15 tied with one touchdown run each

Field Goals

Name Team FG
Joey Sternaman Chicago 9
Al Kreuz Philadelphia 8
Bob Dinsmore Philadelphia 3
Dave Elliott Cleveland
Philadelphia
2
Jim Lawson Los Angeles 2
Dick Reed Los Angeles 2
Eddie Tryon New York 1
Art Coglizer New York 1
Carl Etelman Boston 1
Erwin Gehrke Boston 1
Guy Roberts Cleveland 1

Demise of the first AFL

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.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2]

November 1926 wasn't much brighter for the house of cards that was the American Football League. The Brooklyn Horsemen left the league when it merged with its NFL cousins, the Lions, and played the last three games of its existence (three shutout losses) as the Horsemen.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2] The league was no more.

After the AFL

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 canceled 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.[2] The Cleveland Panthers, on the other hand, reverted to independent status, and played until 1934.

References

  1. ^ 1926 AFLG Standings, Stats and Awards Archived January 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. The "G" apparently refers to "Grange"
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r David S. Neft, Richard M. Cohen, and Rick Korch, The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional Football, From 1899 to the Present (St. Martin’s Press 1994), ISBN 0-312-11435-4
  3. ^ George Gipe, The Great American Sports Book (Doubleday 1978) ISBN 0-385-13091-0
  4. ^ The Grange League Archived October 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine - Pro Football Researchers Association, citing The New York Times, July 17, 1926
  5. ^ "Bill Edwards Named President of A.F.L." The New York Times, March 8, 1926
1922 NFL season

The 1922 NFL season was the third regular season of what was now called the National Football League (NFL); the league changed their name from American Professional Football Association (APFA) on June 24. The NFL fielded 18 teams during the season, including new league teams such as the Milwaukee Badgers, the Oorang Indians, the Racine Legion, and the Toledo Maroons. Meanwhile, the Chicago Staleys changed their name to the Chicago Bears, and the Racine Cardinals changed their name to the Chicago Cardinals. The Muncie Flyers, Cleveland Indians, Brickley's New York Giants, Cincinnati Celts, Tonawanda Kardex, Washington Senators, and Detroit Tigers dropped out of the league. A 19th team, the Youngstown Patricians, was scheduled to join the league, and had its schedule laid out, but folded before playing in the league. A 20th, the Philadelphia Union Quakers, also was set to join (but presumably not as far along as the Youngstown plans), but did not, due partly to the fact that the Quakers were merely a front for the existing Buffalo All-Americans to play extra games on Saturday. After a four-year hiatus, the Quakers instead joined the American Football League (1926).

The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10–0–2 record.

Big Bill Edwards

William Hanford "Big Bill" Edwards (February 23, 1877 – January 4, 1943) was an American football player who played guard for the Princeton Tigers football team of Princeton University from 1896 to 1899.

Brooklyn Lions / Horsemen (1926)

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.

In the months before the regular season began, both leagues battled with each other for fan support and the right to play at Ebbets Field. The NFL emerged as the winner, as the Lions signed the lease to use the stadium on July 20.On November 12, 1926, the Horsemen withdrew from the AFL and merged with Lions. The new team created by the merger was initially called the Brooklyn Lions and competed in the NFL from November 22, 1926. For the last three games of the 1926, the team used the Horsemen name to finish the season. After three consecutive losses by shutout, the merged team winked out of existence.

Browning Field

Browning Park is a park in Moline, Illinois, United States, located at 16th Street and 23rd Avenue. Browning Field has been the home of high school and professional athletic events since 1910. It has hosted athletes such as Babe Ruth and Red Grange.

Chicago Bulls (AFL, 1926)

The Chicago Bulls were a professional American football team that competed in the first American Football League in 1926. Owned by Joey Sternaman (brother of Chicago Bears co-owner Dutch Sternaman), the Bulls also had AFL founders C. C. Pyle and Red Grange as shareholders (Pyle and Grange were also the co-owners of the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Wildcats of the AFL). Joey Sternaman was also the coach and blocking back for the Bulls throughout their brief existence.The newly minted Bulls had adverse effects on the more established NFL. First, the Bulls leased Comiskey Park, forcing the Chicago Cardinals to play in the (older and much smaller) Normal Field. Second, the Bulls made an offer for Cardinals star Paddy Driscoll that the reigning NFL champions could not match (Cardinals owner Chris O'Brien arranged a trade with the Bears, who did match the Bulls' offer to Driscoll, keeping him in the established league but knocking the Cardinals out of championship contention). Failing to sign Driscoll, the Bulls built up their roster by signing up men who played their college football in the American Midwest.Despite playing in front of 16,000 people in their first home game (against the Yankees on October 17, 1926), the Bulls were generally a poor attraction despite the star power of Joey Sternaman. Most of the Bulls games – both at home and away – were played in front of 4000 people or fewer. Attendance at Bulls games were often a reflection of the drawing power of their opponents. The team's first game (at Newark) was played in front of only 2000 people in Davids' Stadium on September 26; the Bulls played the last three official games of the American Football League: in front of 15,000 in Yankee Stadium on November 28 against the Yankees, in front of 3000 in Comiskey Park on December 5 against the Wildcats, and in front 8000 in Comiskey Park on December 12 against the Yankees. With the conclusion of the last game, the AFL – and the Chicago Bulls – became history, and Sternaman returned to the Chicago Bears.

Cleveland Panthers

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.

Comiskey Park

Comiskey Park was a baseball park in Chicago, Illinois, located in the Armour Square neighborhood on the near-southwest side of the city. The stadium served as the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League from 1910 through 1990. Built by White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and designed by Zachary Taylor Davis, Comiskey Park hosted four World Series and more than 6,000 Major League Baseball games. Also, in one of the most famous boxing matches in history, the field was the site of the 1937 heavyweight title match in which Joe Louis defeated then champion James J. Braddock in eight rounds that launched Louis' unprecedented 11-plus year run as the heavyweight champion of the world.The Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League also called Comiskey Park home when they weren't playing at Normal Park or Soldier Field. They won the 1947 NFL Championship Game over the Philadelphia Eagles at Comiskey Park. Much less popular than the Bears, the Cardinals' last season at Comiskey was 1958, and they left for St. Louis in March 1960. The Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League called Comiskey Park home from 1941–1950.Adjacent to the south (across 35th Street), a new ballpark opened in 1991, and Comiskey Park was demolished the same year. Originally also called Comiskey Park, it was renamed U.S. Cellular Field in 2003 and Guaranteed Rate Field in 2016.

Commercial Field

Commercial Field is a 2,112-acre (8.55 km2) athletic field located in the Wingate neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was home to the Commercial High School soccer, football, and baseball teams from around 1906. Other schools, such as Boys High, also called Commercial Field their home from time to time, as did local teams in the American Soccer League in the 1930s. The field was also the home field of the short-lived New York Brickley Giants, of the early National Football League, who played two games there during their 1921 season. In 1926, the Brooklyn Horsemen of the first American Football League used the stadium as their home field.

The lot was acquired by the New York Parks Department in 1940, and the field survives today as a multi-sport facility called Hamilton-Metz Field named after US Representative Herman A. Metz and US Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

In 1929, a visiting Bermudan cricket team played several matches at Commercial Field, defeating the All-New York and All-Brooklyn teams. The Bermudans returned for more tours during the 1930s. In 2006, a $1.57 million restoration was completed, with the field relaid in artificial turf. Neighborhood residents often refer to the field by yet another name, Lefferts Park.

Douglas Park (Rock Island)

Douglas Park is located at 18th Avenue and 10th Street in Rock Island, Illinois. A former National Football League venue, it was the site of the first National Football League game on September 26, 1920. The stadium was home to the Rock Island Independents from 1907 until 1925. The Independents were an original franchise of the National Football League (1920–1925). It was a minor league baseball stadium for the Rock Island Islanders from 1907 until 1937. The Islanders played in the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League (1920–1921), Mississippi Valley League (1922–1933) and Western League (1934–1937). Numerous Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees, including NFL legends George Halas, Curly Lambeau and Jim Thorpe, performed at Douglas Park.

John F. Kennedy Stadium (Philadelphia)

John F. Kennedy Stadium (formerly Philadelphia Municipal Stadium and Sesquicentennial Stadium) was an open-air stadium in Philadelphia that stood from 1926 to 1992. The South Philadelphia stadium was on the east side of the far southern end of Broad Street at a location now part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. Designed by the architectural firm of Simon & Simon in a classic 1920s style with a horseshoe seating design that surrounded a track and football field, at its peak the facility seated in excess of 102,000 people. Bleachers were later added at the open (North) end.

Each section of the main portion of the stadium contained its own entrance, which displayed the letters of each section above the entrance, in a nod to ancient Roman stadia. Section designators were divided at the south end of the stadium (the bottom of the "U" shape) between West and East, starting with Sections WA and EA and proceeding north. The north bleachers started with Section NA.

It was built of concrete, stone, and brick on a 13.5-acre (55,000 m2) tract.

List of Newark Bears (AFL) players

The following people played for the Bears for at least one game in the 1926 AFL regular season, the only one of the team’s (and the league’s) existence:

1 Position later known as quarterback2 Also played tackle3 Played fullback and tailback4 Also played end5 After the Newark Bears folded, for the Boston Bulldogs for rest of 1926 season6 Also played center7 Played fullback and blocking back

List of Rock Island Independents players

This is a list of known American football players who have played for the Rock Island Independents of the National Football League, from 1920 until 1925, and the first American Football League. It includes players that have played at least one match with the team.

Los Angeles Wildcats

The Los Angeles Wildcats (also reported in various media as Pacific Coast Wildcats, Los Angeles Wilson Wildcats and Wilson’s Wildcats) was a traveling team of the first American Football League that was not based in its nominal home city but in Chicago, Illinois (it trained in Rock Island). 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.

Luna Park, Cleveland

Luna Park was a trolley park (a type of amusement park) in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, from 1905 to 1929.

New York Yankees (NFL)

The New York Yankees were a short-lived professional American football team from 1926 to 1928. 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.

Newark Bears (AFL)

The Newark Bears were a professional American football team that competed in the first American Football League in 1926 AFL season. Owned by the New Jersey Athletic Association (headed by NJAA president William Coughlin), the Bears played their home games in Davids' Stadium. Coached by player-coach Hal Hansen, the majority of the team played their college football in Georgia and Florida.Tailback Doug Wycoff scored the club’s only points in its existence, having a touchdown run and kicking the extra point to tie the Chicago Bulls in both teams’ opening game of the season. While the Bears’ defense was respectable (yielding only five points per game), the lack of offensive production resulted in a record of no wins, three losses, and two ties. While the Bears played in front of (an announced total of) 40,000 spectators in Philadelphia (a 9-0 loss to the Quakers on October 16), the total attendance for three home games in Newark was less than 5000. After only 400 fans attended a scoreless game (with the Rock Island Independents) in Davids’ Stadium on October 24, 1926, the Bears withdrew from the AFL… the first team to call it quits in the American Football League. The exodus from the league continued through the month of November, until there were only four teams left, dooming the league.

For the team's last league game, the name of the team was changed to the Newark Demons.

Philadelphia Quakers (AFL)

Not to be confused with the defunct Philadelphia Quakers team of the National Hockey League, the Philadelphia Quakers baseball team who became the Philadelphia Phillies in 1890 or the University of Pennsylvania athletics teams, the Pennsylvania Quakers.

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.

Rock Island Independents

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.

In 1926, the Independents left the NFL to become a charter member of the first American Football League, the only NFL team to do so. The Independents then folded along with the entire league in 1927.Pro Football Hall of Fame alumni Jimmy Conzelman (1920–1921), Joe Guyon (1924), Ed Healey (1920–1922) and Jim Thorpe (1924–1925) played for the Independents.

Ruppert Stadium (Newark)

Ruppert Stadium was a baseball stadium in Newark, New Jersey, in the area now known as the Ironbound. Originally named Davids' Stadium after Charles L. Davids, owner of the Newark Bears, it was home to the minor league Newark Bears of the International League from 1926 to 1949, and to the Negro League Newark Stars in 1926 and Newark Eagles from 1936 to 1948. It was also the home field of the short-lived Newark Bears of the first American Football League in 1926. The stadium was named for Jacob Ruppert, a baseball team owner who built the farm system of the New York Yankees.In October 1952, the Yankees organization announced their intention to tear down the 14,000-seat stadium and sell the land for real estate development. The local Board of Education stepped in to purchase the stadium for $275,000 and converted the property into a school recreation center. In 1967 the stadium was demolished and the land was sold again the following year to the Vita Food Products company, which built a food plant on the site.

American Football League (1926)
Seasons
Teams
Stadia
Professional gridiron football leagues in North America

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