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1920 NFL season

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1920 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 26, 1920 - December 19, 1920
Champions Akron Pros*
National Football League seasons
  1921 > 

The 1920 NFL season was the inaugural regular season of the National Football League. The league was formed at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio on August 20 by four independent professional American football teams from Ohio: Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, and Dayton Triangles. The four parties had played against each other unofficially as the "Ohio League" since 1903, complete with "championships," but it wasn't until 1920 that the league was formalized. At the meeting, they first called their new league the "American Professional Football Conference."

A second organizational meeting was held in Canton on September 17, adding more teams to the league: the Hammond Pros and the Muncie Flyers from Indiana; the Rochester Jeffersons from the New York Pro Football League; and the Rock Island Independents, the Decatur Staleys, and the Racine Cardinals from Illinois. At the meeting, the league was given a new name: American Professional Football Association (It would not be changed to National Football League until 1922).

Four other teams also joined the Association during the year: Buffalo All-Americans (also from the NYPFL), Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, and Detroit Heralds. Meanwhile, Jim Thorpe of the Canton Bulldogs was named the APFA's first president, but continued to play for the team.

However, the scheduling was left up to each team. There were wide variations, both in the overall number of games played and in the number played against other Association members. Thus, no official standings were maintained. In addition, football teams in the APFA also faced independent football teams not associated with the league. For instance, the Rochester Jeffersons played a schedule consisting mostly of local teams from their local sandlot circuit and the NYPFL, not the APFA.

The Akron Pros ended up being the only undefeated team in the Association. Despite this, two one-loss teams (the Decatur Staleys and Buffalo All-Americans), who both tied Akron that year, also made cases for a co-championship. At the league meetings in Akron on April 30, 1921, the Pros were awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup for the 1920 season, the only year the trophy was used, at the motion of Columbus Panhandles manager Joe Carr, who would be elected as league president several weeks later at the next meeting.

According to modern NFL tie-breaking rules, the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans would be co-champions. They would be tied with the Akron Pros in win percentage, 9½ wins to 1½ losses (.864), both teams beating out the Decatur Staleys, who would have a season that counted 11 wins to 2 losses (.846).


1920 scheduleEdit

Week 1
September 26, 1920
Visitor Score Home Score Location
St. Paul Ideals (0-1-0) 0 Rock Island Independents (1-0-0) 48 Douglas Park
Week 2
October 3, 1920
Wheeling Stogies (0-1-0) 0 Akron Pros (1-0-0) 43 Akron League Park
West Buffalo (0-1-0) 6 Buffalo All-Americans (1-0-0) 32 Canisius Field
Pitcairn Quakers (0-1-0) 0 Canton Bulldogs (1-0-0) 48 Lakeside Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-1-0) 0 Dayton Triangles (1-0-0) 14 Triangle Park
Moline Universal Tractors (0-1-0) 0 Decatur Staleys (1-0-0) 20 Staley Field
Muncie Flyers (0-1-0) 0 Rock Island Independents (2-0-0) 45 Douglas Park
All-Buffalo (0-1-0) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (1-0-0) 10 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 3
October 10, 1920
Columbus Panhandles (0-2-0) 0 Akron Pros (2-0-0) 37 Akron League Park
All-Buffalo (0-2-0) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (2-0-0) 51 Canisius Field
Toledo Maroons (0-1-0) 0 Canton Bulldogs (2-0-0) 42 Lakeside Park
Chicago Cardinals (0-0-1) 0 Chicago Tigers (0-0-1) 0 Cubs Park
Cleveland Tigers (0-0-1) 0 Dayton Triangles (1-0-1) 0 Triangle Park
Kewanee Walworths (0-1-0) 7 Decatur Staleys (2-0-0) 25 Staley Field
Cleveland Panthers (0-1-0) 14 Detroit Heralds (1-0-0) 40 Mack Park
Hammond Pros (0-1-0) 0 Rock Island Independents (3-0-0) 26 Douglas Park
Fort Porter (0-1-0) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (2-0-0) 66 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 4
October 17, 1920
Cincinnati Celts (0-1-0) 0 Akron Pros (3-0-0) 13 Akron League Park
McKeesport Olympics (0-1-0) 7 Buffalo All-Americans (3-0-0) 28 Canisius Field
Cleveland Tigers (0-1-1) 0 Canton Bulldogs (3-0-0) 7 Lakeside Park
Moline Universal Tractors (0-2-0) 3 Chicago Cardinals (1-0-1) 33 St. Rita's Field
Detroit Heralds (1-1-0) 0 Chicago Tigers (1-0-1) 12 Cubs Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-3-0) 0 Fort Wayne Friars (1-0-0) 14 Fort Wayne League Park
Hammond Pros (0-2-0) 0 Dayton Triangles (2-0-1) 44 Triangle Park
Decatur Staleys (3-0-0) 7 Rock Island Independents (3-1-0) 0 Douglas Park
Utica Knights of Columbus (0-0-1) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (2-0-1) 0 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 5
October 24, 1920
Cleveland Tigers (0-2-1) 0 Akron Pros (4-0-0) 7 Akron League Park
Toledo Maroons (0-2-0) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (4-0-0) 38 Canisius Field
Canton Bulldogs (3-0-1) 20 Dayton Triangles (2-0-2) 20 Triangle Park
Chicago Cardinals (1-1-1) 0 Rock Island Independents (4-1-0) 7 Douglas Park
Decatur Staleys (4-0-0) 10 Chicago Tigers (1-1-1) 0 Cubs Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-4-0) 0 Detroit Heralds (2-1-0) 6 Mack Park
Syracuse Stars (0-1-0) 7 Rochester Jeffersons (3-0-1) 21 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 6
October 31, 1920
Akron Pros (5-0-0) 10 Canton Bulldogs (3-1-1) 0 Lakeside Park
Rochester Jeffersons (3-1-1) 6 Buffalo All-Americans (5-0-0) 17 Canisius Field
Detroit Heralds (2-2-0) 0 Chicago Cardinals (2-1-1) 21 Cubs Park
Chicago Tigers (1-2-1) 7 Rock Island Independents (5-1-0) 20 Douglas Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-5-0) 0 Cleveland Tigers (1-2-1) 7 Dunn Field
Cincinnati Celts (0-2-0) 7 Dayton Triangles (3-0-2) 23 Triangle Park
Decatur Staleys (5-0-0) 29 Rockford A.C. (0-1-0) 0 Kishwaukee Park
Hammond Pros (1-2-0) 14 Logan Square (0-1-0) 9 Logan Square Park
Week 7
November 7, 1920
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (0-1-0) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (6-0-0) 35 Canisius Field
Canton Bulldogs (4-1-1) 18 Cleveland Tigers (1-3-1) 0 Dunn Field
Chicago Cardinals (3-1-1) 6 Chicago Tigers (1-3-1) 3 Cubs Park
Columbus Panhandles (1-5-0) 10 Zanesville Mark Grays (0-1-0) 0 Zanesville, Ohio
Decatur Staleys (5-0-1) 0 Rock Island Independents (5-1-1) 0 Douglas Park
Hammond Pros (2-2-0) 14 Pullman Thorns (0-1-0) 13 Chicago, Illinois
Utica Knights of Columbus (0-1-1) 7 Rochester Jeffersons (4-1-1) 27 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 8
November 11, 1920
Decatur Staleys (6-0-1) 20 Champaign Legion (0-1-0) 0 Champaign, Illinois
Rock Island Independents (5-1-2) 7 Thorn Tornadoes (0-0-1) 7 Monmouth, Illinois
November 14, 1920
Akron Pros (5-0-1) 7 Cleveland Tigers (1-3-2) 7 Dunn Field
Columbus Panhandles (1-6-0) 7 Buffalo All-Americans (7-0-0) 43 Canisius Field
Chicago Tigers (1-4-1) 0 Canton Bulldogs (5-1-1) 21 Lakeside Park
Cincinnati Celts (0-3-0) 0 Chicago Cardinals (4-1-1) 21 Chicago, Illinois
Dayton Triangles (4-0-2) 21 Rock Island Independents (5-2-2) 0 Douglas Park
Decatur Staleys (7-0-1) 3 Minneapolis Marines (0-1-0) 0 Nicollet Park
Detroit Heralds (2-2-1) 0 Fort Wayne Friars (1-0-1) 0 Fort Wayne League Park
Hammond Pros (2-3-0) 6 Gary Elks (1-0-0) 7 Gleason Field
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (1-1-0) 6 Rochester Jeffersons (4-2-1) 0 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 9
November 21, 1920
Dayton Triangles (4-1-2) 0 Akron Pros (6-0-1) 13 Akron League Park
Canton Bulldogs (6-1-1) 3 Buffalo All-Americans (7-1-0) 0 Canisius Field
Lansing Oldsmobile (0-1-0) 0 Chicago Cardinals (5-1-1) 14 Chicago, Illinois
Toledo Maroons (0-3-0) 0 Cleveland Tigers (2-3-2) 14 Dunn Field
Columbus Panhandles (1-6-1) 0 Zanesville Mark Grays (0-1-1) 0 Zanesville, Ohio
Hammond Pros (2-4-0) 7 Decatur Staleys (8-0-1) 28 Staley Field
Rochester Scalpers (0-1-0) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (5-2-1) 16 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 10
November 25, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (6-2-1) 0 Akron Pros (7-0-1) 7 Akron League Park
Decatur Staleys (9-0-1) 6 Chicago Tigers (1-5-1) 0 Chicago Cub Park
Columbus Panhandles (1-6-2) 0 Elyria Athletics (0-0-1) 0 Lorain, Ohio
Detroit Heralds (2-3-1) 0 Dayton Triangles (5-1-2) 28 Triangle Park
Hammond Pros (2-5-0) 0 Chicago Boosters (1-0-0) 27 DePaul Field
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (2-1-0) 14 Rochester Jeffersons (5-3-1) 3 Rochester Baseball Park
November 28, 1920
Akron Pros (8-0-1) 14 Dayton Triangles (5-2-2) 0 Triangle Park
Cleveland Tigers (2-4-2) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (8-1-0) 7 Buffalo Baseball Park
Decatur Staleys (9-1-1) 6 Chicago Cardinals (6-1-1) 7 Normal Park
Thorn Tornadoes (0-1-1) 0 Chicago Tigers (2-5-1) 27 Cubs Park
Lansing Oldsmobile (0-1-1) 0 Detroit Heralds (2-3-2) 0 Mack Park
Rochester Scalpers (0-2-0) 6 Rochester Jeffersons (6-3-1) 7 Rochester Baseball Park
Washington and Jeffe Collegians (0-1-0) 7 Rock Island Independents (6-2-2) 48 Douglas Park
Week 11
December 4, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (6-3-1) 3 Buffalo All-Americans (9-1-0) 7 New York Polo Grounds
December 5, 1920
Akron Pros (8-0-2) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (9-1-1) 0 Buffalo Baseball Park
Canton Bulldogs (6-3-2) 0 Washington Glee Club 0 New Haven, Connecticut
Chicago Cardinals (6-2-1) 0 Decatur Staleys (10-1-1) 10 Cubs Park
Columbus Wagner Pirates (0-1) 0 Columbus Panhandles (2-6-2) 24 Neil Park
Detroit Maroons (0-0-1) 7 Detroit Heralds (2-3-3) 7 Mack Park
Rochester Scalpers (0-2-1) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (6-3-2) 0 Exposition Park
Week 12
December 11, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (6-4-2) 7 Union Club of Phoenixville (1-0-0) 13 Phillies Park
December 12, 1920
Akron Pros (8-0-3) 0 Decatur Staleys (10-1-2) 0 Cubs Park
Week 13
December 18, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (7-4-2) 39 Richmond Athletics (0-1-0) 0 Boulevard Field
December 19, 1920
Chicago Cardinals (6-2-2) 14 Chicago Stayms (0-0-1) 14 Pyott Field

Unofficial final standingsEdit

These are the unofficial standings of teams within the APFA. Records of independent football teams are not included, but games by members against such teams are.

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: Tie games were not counted in the standings until 1972.

TeamWLTPCTPFPA
Akron Pros* 8031.0001517
Decatur Staleys 1012.90916421
Buffalo All-Americans* 911.90025832
Chicago Cardinals 622.75011543
Rock Island Independents 622.75020149
Dayton Triangles 522.71415054
Rochester Jeffersons 632.66715657
Canton Bulldogs 742.63620857
Detroit Heralds 233.4005382
Cleveland Tigers 242.3332846
Chicago Tigers 251.2864963
Hammond Pros 250.28641154
Columbus Panhandles 262.25041121
Muncie Flyers 010.000045

* – The Buffalo All-Americans would have tied the Akron Pros based on winning percentage, had modern rules been in effect.

Unofficial league leadersEdit

ScoringEdit

Name Team PTS
Dutch Sternaman Decatur 86
Ockie Anderson Buffalo 71
Tommy Hughitt Buffalo 53
Fritz Pollard Akron 42
Bodie Weldon Buffalo 41

Rushing touchdownsEdit

Name Team TDs
Dutch Sternaman Decatur 11
Ockie Anderson Buffalo 8
Tommy Hughitt Buffalo 8
Bob Argus Rochester 6
Fritz Pollard Akron 5
Joe Guyon Canton 5

Receiving touchdownsEdit

Name Team TDs
Norb Sacksteder Dayton 3
Dave Reese Dayton 2
Bunny Corcoran Canton 2
George Halas Decatur 2

Return touchdownsEdit

Name Team TDs
Arnie Wyman Rock Island 3
Ockie Anderson Buffalo 3
Al Nesser Akron 3
Frank Bacon Dayton 2
Swede Youngstrom Buffalo 2
Lenny Sachs Chicago C 2
Leo Chappell Chicago C 2


Postseason and legacy Edit

File:AkronProsChampionship.jpg

As there was no playoff system in the APFA until 1932,[1] a meeting was held to determine the 1920 Champions.[2] Each team that showed up had a vote to determine the champions. Since the Akron Pros had a 1.000 winning percentage, the Pros were awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup on April 30, 1921.[3] The trophy was a "silver loving cup", donated by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company.[4] This decision, however, would arise with controversy. The Staleys and the All-Americans each stated that they should win the award because they had more wins and were not beaten by the Akron Pros.[2] Each player from the Pros was also awarded with a golden fob; this was in the shape of a football and inscribed with "1920", "WORLD CHAMPIONS", and each players' first initial and last name.[5] The Pros did not officially celebrate their championship season until the following year. In October 1921, most of the team was invited to the Elks Club of Akron, which was labeled as "a grand homecoming celebration for the world's champions".[6] Pollard was congratulated during an Akron Merchants Association of Colored Business Men's meeting.[6]

The Pros were the first team in the history of the APFA to complete a non-modern "perfect season". Only four other teams has accomplished this feat: the 1922 Canton Bulldogs at 10–0–2,[7] the 1923 Canton Bulldogs at 11–0–1,[8] the 1929 Green Bay Packers at 12–0–1,[9] and the 1972 Miami Dolphins at 17–0–0.[10] In 1972, the NFL changed the rules so ties count as a half-win and a half-loss.[11] If this rule had applied in 1920, the All-Americans and the Pros would each have a .864 winning percentage. Even though the Pros were given the trophy in 1920, the league lost track of the event and for a long time published in its own record books that the 1920 championship was undecided.[12] It was not until the 1970s that the NFL remembered its early vote on awarding the Akron Pros the championship.[12]

Awards Edit

All-Pro Edit

Bruce Copeland, sportswriter for the Rock Island Argus, compiled the All-Pro list for 1920. He used the games played in Rock Island, other newspapers, and his own memory to determine the first-, second-, and third-team All-Pro list. Pro-Football-Reference.com uses this list as the official All-Pro list of 1920.[13] Twenty of the players were from Illinois and thirteen were from Ohio. The Rock Island Independents had the most players on the list (9), and Racine Cardinals had the least (1).[14]

First-Team All-Pro
Player Position Team
Guy Chamberlin End Decatur Staleys
Oke Smith End Rock Island Independents
Wilbur Henry Tackle Canton Bulldogs
Hugh Blacklock Tackle Decatur Staleys
Fred Denfield Guard Rock Island Independents
Dewey Lyle Guard Rock Island Independents
George Trafton Center Decatur Staleys
Paddy Driscoll Quarterback Racine Cardinals
Eddie Novak Halfback Rock Island Independents
Fritz Pollard Halfback Akron Pros
Rip King Fullback Akron Pros

Second-Team All-Pro
Player Position Team
George Halas End Decatur Staleys
Obe Wenig End Rock Island Independents
Cub Buck Tackle Canton Bulldogs
Ed Shaw Tackle Rock Island Independents
Alf Cobb Guard Akron Pros
Harry Dadmun Guard Canton Bulldogs
Shorty Des Jardien Center Chicago Tigers
Al Mahrt Quarterback Dayton Triangles
Norb Sacksteder Halfback Dayton Triangles
Joe Guyon Halfback Canton Bulldogs
Gil Falcon Fullback Chicago Tigers

Third-Team All-Pro
Player Position Team
Bob Marshall End Rock Island Independents
Bob Nash End Akron Pros
Burt Ingwerson Tackle Decatur Staleys
Walt Buland Tackle Rock Island Independents
Brad Tomlin Guard Akron Pros
Ross Petty Guard Decatur Staleys
Freeman Fitzgerald Center Rock Island Independents
Milt Chee Quarterback Chicago Tigers
Ed Sternaman Halfback Decatur Staleys
Frank Bacon Halfback Dayton Triangles
Pete Calac Fullback Canton Bulldogs

Hall of Fame Edit

As of 2012, 10 players have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played in the 1920 APFA season. One non-player, Joseph Carr, the owner of the Columbus Panhandles in the 1920 season and league president from 1921–1939, was also elected to the Hall.

Name
Team(s)
0
Year
0
0Ref.0
Carr, Joseph
Columbus Panhandles
0 1963 0 [15]
Chamberlin, Guy
Decatur Staleys
1964
[16]
Conzelman, Jimmy
Decatur Staleys
1964
[17]
Driscoll, Paddy
Racine Cardinals
Decatur Staleys
1965
[18]
Guyon, Joe
Canton Bulldogs
1966
[19]
Halas, George
Decatur Staleys
1963
[20]
Healey, Ed
Rock Island Independents
1964
[21]
Henry, Pete
Canton Bulldogs
1963
[22]
Pollard, Fritz
Akron Pros
2005
[23]
Thorpe, Jim
Canton Bulldogs
1963
[24]
Trafton, George
Decatur Staleys
1964
[25]

Notes Edit

  1. "History: The First Playoff Game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20110603232114/http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/1930s/first_playoff_game.aspx. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Carroll (1982), p. 3
  3. Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for the Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon Journal. http://www.ohio.com/news/searching-for-lost-trophy-1.204246. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  4. PFRA Research (1980), p. 6
  5. "Medallion from NFL's first champions". Pro Football Hall of Fame. September 29, 2010. http://www.profootballhof.com/history/2010/9/29/medallion-from-nfls-first-champions/. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ohio
  7. "1922 Canton Bulldogs Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/cbd/1922.htm. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  8. "1923 Canton Bulldogs Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/cbd/1923.htm. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  9. "1929 Green Bay Packers Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/1929.htm. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  10. "1972 Miami Dolphins Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/mia/1972.htm. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  11. Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini (2010), p. 360
  12. 12.0 12.1 PFRA Research (n.d.), p. 1
  13. "1920 APFA All-Pros". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1920_APFA/allpro.htm. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  14. Hogrogian (1984), p. 1–2
  15. "Joe Carr". Pro Football Hall of Fame accessdate=December 26, 2011. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=42.
  16. "Guy Chamberlin". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=44. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  17. "Jimmy Conzelman". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=48. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  18. "John (Paddy) Driscoll". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=60. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  19. "Joe Guyon". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=84. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  20. "George Halas". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=85. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  21. "Ed Healey". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=91. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  22. "Wilbur (Pete) Henry". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=94. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  23. "Fritz Pollard". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=242. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  24. "Jim Thorpe". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=213. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  25. "George Trafton". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=215. Retrieved March 17, 2012.

References Edit

1920 APFA seasonv · d · e
Akron Buffalo Canton Chicago Cardinals Chicago Tigers Cleveland
Columbus Dayton Decatur Detroit Hammond Muncie
Rochester Rock Island

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