Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit

The Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit was a loose association of American football clubs that operated from 1890 to approximately 1940. Originally amateur, professionalism was introduced to the circuit in 1892; cost pressures pushed the circuit to semi-professional status from about 1920 through the rest of its existence. Existing in some form for 48 years, it was one of the longest-lived paying football loops to operate outside the auspices of the National Football League.

The football clubs of the 1880s and 1890s were amateur teams. They were under the membership of an athletic club, which provided both sports and the ability to wager money on the sports. However, the prestige and increased membership that could come from a successful team, led these clubs to begin secretly hiring talented players.[1] The amateur athletics that these clubs engaged in were policed by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).[2] By the mid-1890s allegations of professionalism became known to the AAU. The Allegheny Athletic Association was found guilty of paying cash to players and was permanently barred from any kind of competition with other AAU members. This punishment would end a team, because their opponents, whether other pros, amateur associations, or colleges, would have simply stopped playing them. Allegheny then defied the AAU in 1896 and created an entirely open professional team. A year later, the Latrobe Athletic Association, went entirely professional.[3] The misconception that these were amateur athletic club were held to in public, even when newspapers wrote openly of players being under contract.[4] To get around this, the circuit teams played for local or regional championships, with the only generally recognized national champion being the best college football team. However, the winner of the circuit was usually able to lay claim to a national, but professional, football title from 1890-1903.[3]

By 1904, the exodus of pro football talent to the "Ohio League", diminished the region's level of play and the national professional champions, were usually then claimed by the teams from Ohio.[5] Though a champion was declared by the media, fans and clubs throughout this period, a formal league was not founded until 1920, when several teams from the "Ohio League" and the New York Pro Football League formed the American Professional Football Association.[6] In 1922 the APFA became the National Football League.[7]

The circuit did not immediately die out and in fact experienced a slight renaissance in the 1920s as the Western Pennsylvania Senior Independent Football Conference. 1920s era blue laws in the state of Pennsylvania meant that while the NFL played its games on Sunday, Pennsylvania teams would have to play on Saturday; while this prevented the state's teams from joining the NFL until 1924, Pennsylvania teams could thus schedule exhibition games against NFL teams on either one's day off (other circuits such as the eastern Pennsylvania circuit and the Eastern/Anthracite Leagues also thrived in the 1920s) The J.P. Rooneys were founded in 1921; it later joined the NFL in 1933 as the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Pittsburgh Steelers). Records of the Pirates playing other Western Pennsylvania teams (including the McKeesport Olympics) continue up to at least 1940, after which point most teams dissolved due to World War II; the Pirates (by now renamed the Steelers) then shifted its exhibition schedule to other minor league teams.

Circuit "championships"

1893 Pittsburgh Athletic Club
1897 Latrobe
Latrobe Athletic Association football team in 1897, the first team to go fully professional for an entire season.
Year Champion W L T Deciding game
1890 Allegheny Athletic Association 3 2 1 [8]
1891 Pittsburgh Athletic Club 7 0 0 [9]
1892 Allegheny Athletic Association 3 1 2 def. Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 4-0
First professional football game November 12, 1892[10]
1893 Inconclusive[11]
1894 Allegheny Athletic Association def. Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 30-4[12]
1895 Duquesne Country and A . C . 4 3 1 def. Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 10-6
1896 Allegheny Athletic Association
First fully professional football team
def. Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 18-0[13]
1897 Greensburg Athletic Association 10 1 0 def. Latrobe Athletic Association, 6-0[14]
1898 Duquesne Country and A . C . 9 0 1 def. Western Pennsylvania All-Stars, 16-0
First all-star game in pro football[15]
1899 Duquesne Country and A . C . 8 0 0 [16]
1900 Homestead Library & A. C. 8 0 0 [17]
1901 Homestead Library & A. C. 9 0 0 def. Philadelphia Athletic Club, 6-5[18]
1902 Pittsburgh Stars
First National Football League
9 2 1 def. Philadelphia Athletics, 11-0
Title disputed by the Athletics[19]
1903 Latrobe Athletic Association
& Franklin Athletic Club
9 0 0 def. Pennsylvania Railroad YMCA, 6-0
def. East End A. A., 23-0

Franklin claimed the "US Pro Football Title" and refused to play Latrobe.[20]
Franklin won the 1903 World Series of Football[21]

1904 Latrobe Athletic Association 9 0 0 def. Steelton Athletic Club, 5-0[22]
1905 Latrobe Athletic Association 8 0 0 def. Canton Athletic Club, 6-0[23]

Other circuit teams

Historic professional football firsts

Greensburg 1894
1894 Greensburg Athletic Association team.

Several of the teams and individuals, in the circuit, pioneered several historic firsts for professional football. These accomplishments include:

  • William "Pudge" Heffelfinger (Allegheny Athletic Association) became the first known professional football player on November 12, 1892.[24]
  • Sport Donnelly (Allegheny Athletic Association) became the first known professional football coach in 1893.[25]
  • A player assumed to be Grant Dibert (Pittsburgh Athletic Club) signed the first known pro football contract, which covered all of the clubs games for the 1893 season.[26]
  • John Brallier (Latrobe Athletic Association) became the first openly professional football player on September 3, 1895[24]
  • Allegheny Athletic Association fielded the first entirely openly professional team in 1896.[13]
  • Latrobe Athletic Association became the first football team to play a full season with only professionals in 1897.[3]
  • William Chase Temple (Duquesne Country and Athletic Club) became the first individual owner of a professional football team in c.1898.[17]
  • The first ever professional football all-star game held between the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club and players from Western Pennsylvania All-Stars.[15]
  • Adam Martin Wyant (Greensburg Athletic Club) was the first professional football player to get elected to the United States Congress in 1921.[27]

First known professional players

  • William "Pudge" Heffelfinger – Allegheny Athletic Association – $500 for one game on November 12, 1892.
  • Ben "Sport" Donnelly – Allegheny Athletic Association – $250 for one game on November 19, 1892.
  • Peter Wright – Allegheny Athletic Association – $50 per game (under contract) for the entire 1893 season.
  • James Van Cleve – Allegheny Athletic Association – $50 per game (under contract) for the entire 1893 season.
  • Ollie Rafferty – Allegheny Athletic Association – $50 per game (under contract) for the entire 1893 season.[24]
  • Unknown player (assumed to be Grant Dibert) – Pittsburgh Athletic Club – for the entire 1893 season.[26]
  • Lawson Fiscus – Greenburg Athletic Association – $20 per game (under contract) for the entire 1894 season.
  • John Brallier – Latrobe Athletic Association – $10 and expenses for one game on September 3, 1895.[24]


Pudge heffelfinger
Allegheny's William "Pudge" Heffelfinger, the first professional football player
John Brallier 1895 W&J uniform cropped
Latrobe's John Brallier, the first admitted professional football player.
  1. ^ Riffenburgh and Carroll pg. 2
  2. ^ Riffenburgh and Carroll pg. 4
  3. ^ a b c Riffenburgh and Carroll pg. 5
  4. ^ Riffenburgh and Carroll pg. 6
  5. ^ Riffenburgh and Carroll pg. 7
  6. ^ "NFL Founded in Canton". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  7. ^ "1922 NFL Owners Meeting". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  8. ^ Three pg.4
  9. ^ P.A.C. pg.3
  10. ^ Five pg. 4
  11. ^ Wage pg. 4
  12. ^ 3A's pg. 4
  13. ^ a b Hurrah pg. 3
  14. ^ Boondocks pg. 5
  15. ^ a b Stars pg. 4
  16. ^ Repeat pg.2
  17. ^ a b Worst pg. 1
  18. ^ Again pg. 1
  19. ^ Carroll pg. 8-9
  20. ^ Van Atta pg. 13
  21. ^ Peterson pg. 38
  22. ^ Van Atta pg. 14-15
  23. ^ Van Atta pg. 16
  24. ^ a b c d "History:Birth of Pro Football". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  25. ^ Wage pg. 3
  26. ^ a b Peterson pg. 31
  27. ^ Wyant pg 1


William chase temple
Duquesne Country and Athletic Club's William Chase Temple, the first sole owner of a professional football team.

See also

Greensburg Athletic Association

The Greensburg Athletic Association was an early organized football team, based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, that played in the unofficial Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit from 1890 until 1900. At times referred to as the Greensburg Athletic Club, the team began as an amateur football club in 1890 and was composed primarily of locals before several professional players were added for the 1895 season. In 1894 it was discovered that the team had secretly paid formerly Indiana Normal (now Indiana University of Pennsylvania) player, Lawson Fiscus, to play football and retained his services on salary. The team was the chief rival of another early professional football team, the Latrobe Athletic Association.

Aside from Fiscus, the Greensburg Athletic Association included several of the era's top players, such as: Charlie Atherton, George Barclay, Ross Fiscus, Jack Gass, Arthur McFarland, Charles Rinehart, Isaac Seneca and Adam Martin Wyant. Several of these players revolutionized the game during their playing careers. Charlie Atherton is credited with inventing the place kick, and George Barclay invented the first-ever football helmet. Meanwhile, Isaac Seneca became the first Native-American to earn All-American honors and Adam Martin Wyant was the first professional football player to become a United States Congressman.The team's home games were played at Athletic Park (which was later renamed Offutt Field). The field is still in use as football field by Greensburg Salem High School and, up until 1993, Greensburg Central Catholic High School.

Hawaii Professional Football League

The Hawaii Professional Football League, or HPFL, is a professional-football league based in the U.S. state of Hawaii, aiming for an inaugural season to start in February 2011 with four teams. The four teams are to be divided into two two-team divisions, the Leeward Division, and the Windward Division. The Waianae Sharks and Honolulu Volcanoes belong to the Leeward Division, and the Kailua Storm and Ko'olau Hurricanes belong to the Windward Division.Founder and commissioner, Carson Peapealalo, who was a former football player at the University of Hawaii, has confirmed that the league is looking to grow beyond its inaugural 2011 season. He also has said that he will not expand out of the state of Hawaii, or west to another foreign country.The basic shape of the HPFL is a triangle. The triangle points down, and it represents pride, action, and the community, plus the body, mind and the spirit. The space around the triangle represents the world and/or family that has come together. [as a family]The current playoff structure consists of all four teams making the playoffs, with two rounds. The two teams in both divisions match up against each other at the homefield of the top seed. The winners of both games meet in the championship game in early March.

Latrobe Athletic Association

The Latrobe Athletic Association was a professional football team located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, from 1895 until 1909. A member of the unofficial Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit, the team is best known for being the first football club to play a full season while composed entirely of professional players. In 1895, team's quarterback, John Brallier, also became the first football player to openly turn professional, by accepting $10 and expenses to play for Latrobe against the Jeannette Athletic Club.

List of American and Canadian football leagues

This is a list of leagues in American football and Canadian football.

There have been professional football leagues of varying levels since the invention of the sport. The two major leagues are the National Football League and Canadian Football League,, but unlike the other major sports in the United States, (MLB, MLS, NBA and NHL) no formal development farm system is in use. There has been attempts to organize a development league such as the Association of Professional Football Leagues and NFL Europe.

In the past several ambitious entrepreneurs have attempted to launch rival leagues to the NFL, but beside the AAFC and the AFL that eventually merged with the NFL, none have succeed. Due to the lack of an official minor league system, most leagues attempt to fill the void for with various levels of success and vary in structure with professional, semiprofessional, or developmental systems.

The high cost of supporting an entire roster of professional players and stadium fees lead to an indoor variation with the launch of the Arena Football League in 1987.

Ohio League

The Ohio League was an informal and loose association of American football clubs active between 1902 and 1919 that competed for the Ohio Independent Championship (OIC). As the name implied, its teams were mostly based in Ohio. It is the direct predecessor to the modern National Football League (NFL).

A proposal to add teams from outside Ohio, such as the Latrobe Athletic Association, to form a formal league known as the "Football Association" fell through prior to the 1904 season.

Though a champion was declared by the group throughout its existence, a formal league was not founded until 1920, when several Ohio League teams added clubs from other states to form the American Professional Football Association. In 1922, the APFA became the National Football League.

All but one of the remaining Ohio League teams left the NFL after the 1926 season, with one team, the Dayton Triangles, surviving until 1929.

Perfect season

A perfect season is a sports season including any requisite playoff portion, in which a team remains and finishes undefeated and untied. The feat is extremely rare at the professional level of any team sport, and has occurred more commonly at the collegiate and scholastic levels in the United States. A perfect regular season (known by other names outside the United States of America) is a season excluding any playoffs, where a team remains undefeated and untied; it is less rare than a complete perfect season but still exceptional.

A perfect season may be part of a multi-season winning streak.

Exhibition games are generally not counted toward standings, for or against. For example, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (below) lost three of their preseason ("exhibition" games in 1972 NFL vernacular) games but are considered to have had a perfect season.

Professional American football championship games

Below is a list of professional football championship games in the United States, involving:

the informal western Pennsylvania professional football circuit (WPC, 1890 to c.1910);

the 1902 "National" Football League and the World Series of Professional Football (WSF, 1902–1903);

the Ohio Independent Championship (OIC, 1903–1919);

the New York Pro Football League (NYPFL, 1916–1919);

the American Professional Football Association and the National Football League (NFL, 1920–present);

the All-America Football Conference (AAFC, 1946–1949);

the American Football League (AFL, 1960–1969);

the World Football League (WFL, 1974–1975);

the United States Football League (USFL, 1983–85);

the XFL (2001);

the United Football League (2009–2011);

and any interleague challenge games that included at least one champion of a major or borderline-major league.Prior to 1920, no national professional football league existed, and play was scattered across semi-pro and professional leagues in the upper midwest. The first efforts at pro football championships were the World Series of Professional Football, featuring teams from and around New York City and the 1902 "National" Football League in Pennsylvania; two of the three "N"FL teams participated as one team in the World Series of Pro Football.

The Ohio League and New York Pro Football League were two prominent regional associations in the 1910s (the NYPFL held an actual championship game in 1919). In 1920, teams from the Ohio League and New York Pro Football League, along with other midwestern teams, formalized into the American Professional Football Association (APFA), and the league was later renamed the National Football League (NFL). The NFL conducted play for thirteen years before creating a "championship game". From 1920 through 1932, league "champions" were determined by won-loss record, but the schedules and rules were so ill-defined that conflicts exist to this day over who the actual champions were.

Some teams played more games than others; some played against college or semi-pro teams; some played after the season was over, some stopped play before a season was over. For example, in 1921, the Buffalo All-Americans disputed the Chicago Staleys' title, and in 1925, the Pottsville Maroons claimed the championship was theirs, not the Chicago Cardinals'.

The APFA had no championship games before it changed its name to the NFL in 1922. Boston/Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall is credited with significant innovations by the NFL: in 1933, Marshall convinced the NFL to play a championship game between the two division winners following the success of the 1932 playoff game. Thus, 1933 was the year of the first national professional football championship game in the United States. See National Football League championships.

Game scores marked with a † (1921 and 1932) were not official championship games, but were the deciding games in determining a championship and also the last games played in a season.

All games are listed under the year in which the majority of regular season games were played; especially since the 1960s, many championship games have been played in the January or, since 2002, February of the following year (for instance, the championship of the 2011 NFL season is played in February 2012, but will be listed in this list under 2011).

Professional football (gridiron)

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 three best known are the National Football League (NFL) and the Arena Football League (AFL) in the U.S. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada. The NFL has existed continuously since being so named in 1922.

Sports in Pennsylvania

Sports in Pennsylvania includes numerous professional sporting teams, events, and venues located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Between 1979 and 1980, the Pirates, Phillies, Steelers, Eagles, Sixers, and Flyers all made it to the end of the postseason, with the Steelers, Pirates, and Phillies being victorious.

. Until recently, when the Philadelphia Eagles won the super bowl 2018.

Sports in Pittsburgh

Sports in Pittsburgh have been played dating back to the American Civil War. Baseball, hockey, and the first professional American football game had been played in the city by 1892. Pittsburgh was first known as the "City of Champions" when the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers won multiple championships in the 1970s. Today, the city has three major professional sports franchises, the Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins; while the University of Pittsburgh Panthers compete in a Division I BCS conference, the highest level of collegiate athletics in the United States, in both football and basketball. Local universities Duquesne and Robert Morris also field Division I teams in men's and women's basketball and Division I FCS teams in football. Robert Morris also fields Division I men's and women's ice hockey teams.

Pittsburgh is once again being called the "City of Champions" as its Steelers and Penguins are recent champions of the NFL and NHL, respectively, in 2009. These accomplishments and others helped Pittsburgh earn the title of "Best Sports City" in 2009 from the Sporting News.

Including the 2008–09 seasons, the Steelers have reached the NFL playoffs in six of the last eight seasons—winning two Super Bowl titles—and the Penguins have reached the NHL playoffs the last four years with back-to-back finals appearances, an Atlantic Division Crown, and a Stanley Cup championship, none of which won at home (the last championship won in Pittsburgh was in 1960 by the Pirates).

The flag of Pittsburgh is colored with black and gold, based on the colors of William Pitt's coat of arms; Pittsburgh is the only city in the United States in which all professional sporting teams share the same colors. The city's first National Hockey League (NHL) franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates were the first to wear black and gold as their colors. The colors were adopted by founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney, in 1933. In 1948, the Pittsburgh baseball Pirates switched their colors from red and blue to black and gold. Pittsburgh's second NHL franchise, the Pittsburgh Penguins, wore blue and white, due to then-general manager Jack Riley's upbringing in Ontario. In 1979, after the Steelers and Pirates had each won their respective league championships, the Penguins altered their color scheme to match, despite objections from the Boston Bruins, who has used the black and gold combination since the 1934-35 NHL season.

In 1975, late Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope invented the Terrible Towel, which has become "arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team." Cope was one of multiple sports figures born in Pittsburgh and its surrounding area; others include golfer Arnold Palmer, Olympian Kurt Angle, and basketball player Jack Twyman. Pittsburgh is also sometimes called the "Cradle of Quarterbacks" due to the number of prominent players of that position who hail from the area, including NFL greats Jim Kelly, George Blanda, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana.

William Chase Temple

William Chase Temple (December 28, 1862 – January 9, 1917) was a coal, citrus, and lumber baron during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was also a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from baseball's National League of Professional Baseball Clubs (later known worldwide as simply as the National League), established 1876. He also established the Temple Cup, a silver trophy awarded to the winner of a best-of-seven, post-season Major League Baseball championship series that was conducted for four seasons in the National League, from 1894 to 1897. He became the first sole owner of a professional American football team, in 1898.

Professional gridiron football leagues in North America

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