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The Ohio League

The Gipper

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Occasionally I will drop some historical data on all y'all, and here is one instance.


Perhaps you all may be aware that the entity known as the National Football League did not just drop out of the sky like manna from heaven. It was a evolutionary thing. Here is some of the history of that evolution:


In 1903 through 1919 an entity existed known as The Ohio League. The Ohio League was not truly a League but more of a formal association of teams that played, though they did name a champion at the end of the season. (The key was that these teams did not have to play each other exclusively, there were other pro or semi-pro leagues around). It played continually from that 1903 to 1919 era. Among the champions of that league at different points were teams known as The Akron East Enders, The Massillon Tigers, the Akron Burkhardts, the Shelby Blues, the Elyria Athletics, the Youngstown Patricians, the Dayton Triangles, and the Canton Bulldogs. Different teams came in and out of the "League".


In 1920 a decision was made by its various members to form a more official and structured "League". Representatives from several of the members of this league invited a couple of teams from the New York Pro Football League..the Rochester Jeffersons and Buffalo All-Stars; and from Indiana teams from Muncie and Hammond and from the Chicagoland area the Decatur Staleys and Chicago Cardinals to form an official "League". They met in Canton, Ohio at a car dealership and sealed the deal to form the new American Professional Football Association. Clubs that came into this new league from the Ohio League included the Akron Pros, the Canton Bulldogs, the Dayton Triangles, and the Cleveland Tigers. In later years, other Ohio League teams would join the APFA, or as it came to be called in 1922, The National Football League. These other Ohio League teams included the Columbus Panhandles, the Toledo Maroons, the Cincinnatti Celts, and the Ironton Tanks..which in later years reformulated into the Portsmouth Spartans. In 1921 a club team from Green Bay, Wisconsin was invited to join the APFA. The rest, as they say, is history.

Though none of the original Ohio League teams is still in operation, those two teams from the Chicago area, now known as the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals are still playing. Also, that Ironton team that reformulated in Portsmouth moved on to Detroit Michigan to become known as The Lions. They are still around, sorta, if you call going 0-16 being "around".


So, just know that today when you go to put on your TV or satellite dish to watch a Browns game or any other NFL game, you are simply watching what is essentially an "Ohio League" game.



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