June 14, 2024

The American Professional Football Association (APFA), which later became the National Football League (NFL), was founded in 1920 with 14 teams. The first NFL teams were:

  • Akron Pros
  • Buffalo All-Americans
  • Canton Bulldogs
  • Chicago Cardinals
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Columbus Panhandles
  • Dayton Triangles
  • Decatur Staleys
  • Hammond Pros
  • Massillon Tigers
  • Muncie Flyers
  • Racine Cardinals
  • Rochester Jeffersons
  • Rock Island Independents

These teams played in a variety of cities across the United States, and the league has since expanded to include 32 teams. The NFL is now one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, and its games are watched by millions of fans each week.

Who Were the First NFL Teams?

The National Football League (NFL) is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. It was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The first NFL teams were:

  • Akron Pros
  • Buffalo All-Americans
  • Canton Bulldogs
  • Chicago Cardinals
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Columbus Panhandles
  • Dayton Triangles
  • Decatur Staleys
  • Hammond Pros
  • Massillon Tigers
  • Muncie Flyers
  • Racine Cardinals
  • Rochester Jeffersons
  • Rock Island Independents

These teams played in a variety of cities across the United States, and the league has since expanded to include 32 teams. The NFL is now one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, and its games are watched by millions of fans each week.

The first NFL teams were all pioneers in the sport of professional football. They helped to establish the rules and traditions of the game, and they laid the foundation for the NFL’s success.

Akron Pros

The Akron Pros were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Pros were a dominant team in the early years of the NFL, winning the league championship in 1920 and 1921. They were also one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football.

The Akron Pros were led by a number of star players, including Jim Thorpe, Pete Henry, and Fritz Pollard. Thorpe was a legendary Olympian and football player who is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Henry was a powerful running back who led the NFL in rushing in 1920. Pollard was the first African-American player to play in the NFL, and he was a key member of the Pros’ championship teams.

The Akron Pros folded in 1927, but their legacy lives on. They were one of the most successful teams in the early years of the NFL, and they helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime.

Buffalo All-Americans

The Buffalo All-Americans were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The All-Americans were a dominant team in the early years of the NFL, winning the league championship in 1921.

  • Legacy and Impact

    The Buffalo All-Americans were one of the most successful teams in the early years of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL.

  • Star Players

    The Buffalo All-Americans had a number of star players, including Jim Thorpe, Pete Henry, and Fritz Pollard. Thorpe was a legendary Olympian and football player who is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Henry was a powerful running back who led the NFL in rushing in 1920. Pollard was the first African-American player to play in the NFL, and he was a key member of the All-Americans’ championship team.

  • Home Field Advantage

    The Buffalo All-Americans played their home games at Buffalo’s Civic Stadium. The stadium was one of the largest in the NFL at the time, and it gave the All-Americans a significant home field advantage.

  • Financial Struggles

    Despite their success on the field, the Buffalo All-Americans struggled financially. The team was owned by a group of local businessmen who were not able to provide the financial support that the team needed to compete with the other teams in the NFL. As a result, the All-Americans folded in 1927.

The Buffalo All-Americans were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL.

Canton Bulldogs

The Canton Bulldogs were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Bulldogs were a dominant team in the early years of the NFL, winning the league championship in 1922 and 1923.

The Canton Bulldogs were led by a number of star players, including Jim Thorpe, Pete Henry, and Guy Chamberlin. Thorpe was a legendary Olympian and football player who is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Henry was a powerful running back who led the NFL in rushing in 1920. Chamberlin was a Hall of Fame end who was one of the best pass catchers in the early years of the NFL.

The Canton Bulldogs were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Bulldogs were also one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football.

The Canton Bulldogs folded in 1927, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, and their home stadium, Canton’s Fawcett Stadium, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Chicago Cardinals

The Chicago Cardinals were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Cardinals were a dominant team in the early years of the NFL, winning the league championship in 1925.

  • Legacy and Impact

    The Chicago Cardinals were one of the most successful teams in the early years of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL.

  • Star Players

    The Chicago Cardinals had a number of star players, including Jim Thorpe, Ernie Nevers, and Guy Chamberlin. Thorpe was a legendary Olympian and football player who is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Nevers was a powerful running back who led the NFL in rushing in 1929. Chamberlin was a Hall of Fame end who was one of the best pass catchers in the early years of the NFL.

  • Home Field Advantage

    The Chicago Cardinals played their home games at Comiskey Park, which was also the home of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Comiskey Park was one of the largest stadiums in the NFL at the time, and it gave the Cardinals a significant home field advantage.

  • Financial Struggles

    Despite their success on the field, the Chicago Cardinals struggled financially. The team was owned by a group of local businessmen who were not able to provide the financial support that the team needed to compete with the other teams in the NFL. As a result, the Cardinals moved to St. Louis in 1960.

The Chicago Cardinals were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Cardinals are still one of the most popular teams in the NFL today.

Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Indians were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for 26 seasons before folding in 1945.

The Indians were not a particularly successful team on the field, but they played an important role in the early history of the NFL. They were one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football. The Indians also played a role in the development of the NFL’s schedule, and they were one of the first teams to play games on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cleveland Indians were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Indians may not have been a very successful team on the field, but they were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL.

Columbus Panhandles

The Columbus Panhandles were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Panhandles were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for two seasons before folding in 1922.

The Panhandles were not a particularly successful team on the field, but they played an important role in the early history of the NFL. They were one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football. The Panhandles also played a role in the development of the NFL’s schedule, and they were one of the first teams to play games on Thanksgiving Day.

The Columbus Panhandles were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Panhandles may not have been a very successful team on the field, but they were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL.

Dayton Triangles

The Dayton Triangles were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Triangles were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for four seasons before folding in 1923.

The Triangles were not a particularly successful team on the field, but they played an important role in the early history of the NFL. They were one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football. The Triangles also played a role in the development of the NFL’s schedule, and they were one of the first teams to play games on Thanksgiving Day.

  • Component

    The Dayton Triangles were founded by a group of local businessmen and sports enthusiasts, led by Carl Storck and Harry O’Connor. The team’s name comes from the shape of the field where they played their home games, Triangle Park.

  • Examples

    The Dayton Triangles played their first game on September 26, 1920, against the Columbus Panhandles. The Triangles won the game 14-6. The Triangles played their home games at Triangle Park, which was located at the intersection of Third and Ludlow Streets in Dayton, Ohio. The stadium had a capacity of 10,000 people.

  • Implications

    The Dayton Triangles were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Triangles may not have been a very successful team on the field, but they were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL.

The Dayton Triangles folded in 1923, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and their home stadium, Triangle Park, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Decatur Staleys

The Decatur Staleys were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Staleys were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for two seasons before moving to Chicago and becoming the Chicago Bears.

  • Component

    The Decatur Staleys were founded by A.E. Staley, the owner of the Staley Starch Company. The team’s name comes from the company’s flagship product, Staley’s Starch.

  • Examples

    The Decatur Staleys played their first game on September 26, 1920, against the Chicago Cardinals. The Staleys won the game 20-0. The Staleys played their home games at Staley Field, which was located in Decatur, Illinois. The stadium had a capacity of 5,000 people.

  • Implications

    The Decatur Staleys were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Staleys were also one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football.

The Decatur Staleys moved to Chicago in 1921 and became the Chicago Bears. The Bears have gone on to become one of the most successful teams in NFL history, winning nine NFL championships.

Hammond Pros

The Hammond Pros were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Pros were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for two seasons before folding in 1921.

  • Component

    The Hammond Pros were founded by a group of local businessmen, led by Jack Adams. The team’s name comes from the city of Hammond, Indiana, where they played their home games.

  • Examples

    The Hammond Pros played their first game on September 26, 1920, against the Chicago Cardinals. The Pros lost the game 21-0. The Pros played their home games at Hammond Stadium, which had a capacity of 5,000 people.

  • Implications

    The Hammond Pros were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Pros were also one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football.

The Hammond Pros folded in 1921, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and their home stadium, Hammond Stadium, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Massillon Tigers

The Massillon Tigers were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Tigers were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for 10 seasons before folding in 1930.

  • Component

    The Massillon Tigers were founded by a group of local businessmen, led by Jack Dempsey. The team’s name comes from the city of Massillon, Ohio, where they played their home games.

  • Examples

    The Massillon Tigers played their first game on September 26, 1920, against the Canton Bulldogs. The Tigers won the game 14-6. The Tigers played their home games at Tiger Stadium, which had a capacity of 12,000 people.

  • Implications

    The Massillon Tigers were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Tigers were also one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football.

The Massillon Tigers folded in 1930, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, and their home stadium, Tiger Stadium, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Muncie Flyers

The Muncie Flyers were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Flyers were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for seven seasons before folding in 1927.

The Muncie Flyers were not a particularly successful team on the field, but they played an important role in the early history of the NFL. They were one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football. The Flyers also played a role in the development of the NFL’s schedule, and they were one of the first teams to play games on Thanksgiving Day.

The Muncie Flyers folded in 1927, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and their home stadium, Ball State Field, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Racine Cardinals

The Racine Cardinals were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Cardinals were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for two seasons before folding in 1922.

The Racine Cardinals were not a particularly successful team on the field, but they played an important role in the early history of the NFL. They were one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football. The Cardinals also played a role in the development of the NFL’s schedule, and they were one of the first teams to play games on Thanksgiving Day.

The Racine Cardinals folded in 1922, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, and their home stadium, Horlick Field, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Rochester Jeffersons

The Rochester Jeffersons were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Jeffersons were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for two seasons before folding in 1922.

  • Component

    The Rochester Jeffersons were founded by a group of local businessmen, led by Thomas O’Connor. The team’s name comes from the city of Rochester, New York, where they played their home games.

  • Examples

    The Rochester Jeffersons played their first game on September 26, 1920, against the Buffalo All-Americans. The Jeffersons won the game 28-0. The Jeffersons played their home games at Rochester Baseball Park, which had a capacity of 12,000 people.

  • Implications

    The Rochester Jeffersons were one of the most important teams in the early history of the NFL. They helped to establish the game of football as a national pastime, and they played a major role in the development of the NFL. The Jeffersons were also one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football.

The Rochester Jeffersons folded in 1922, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and their home stadium, Rochester Baseball Park, is now a National Historic Landmark.

Rock Island Independents

The Rock Island Independents were one of the 14 original teams that founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which later became the National Football League (NFL). The Independents were a charter member of the NFL and played in the league for four seasons before folding in 1923.

The Rock Island Independents were not a particularly successful team on the field, but they played an important role in the early history of the NFL. They were one of the first teams to adopt the forward pass, which revolutionized the game of football. The Independents also played a role in the development of the NFL’s schedule, and they were one of the first teams to play games on Thanksgiving Day.

The Rock Island Independents folded in 1923, but their legacy lives on. The team was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, and their home stadium, Douglas Park, is now a National Historic Landmark.

FAQs on “Who Were the First NFL Teams?”

This section addresses frequently asked questions and misconceptions surrounding the origins of the National Football League (NFL). Explore these questions and answers to enhance your understanding of the league’s early history.

Question 1: Who founded the American Professional Football Association (APFA), the precursor to the NFL?

Answer: The APFA was established in 1920 by a group of team owners led by Jim Thorpe, a legendary Olympian and football player.

Question 2: How many teams comprised the original APFA?

Answer: The APFA initially consisted of 14 teams, including the Akron Pros, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs, Chicago Cardinals, and Cleveland Indians.

Question 3: Which team won the inaugural APFA championship in 1920?

Answer: The Akron Pros emerged victorious in the first APFA championship game, securing the league’s inaugural title.

Question 4: When did the APFA officially become the National Football League (NFL)?

Answer: The APFA underwent a name change in 1922, officially becoming the National Football League (NFL).

Question 5: Which teams have remained in the NFL since its inception?

Answer: Only two teams, the Chicago Cardinals and the Arizona Cardinals (formerly the St. Louis Cardinals), have been continuously active in the NFL since its founding.

Question 6: How has the NFL evolved since its early days?

Answer: Over the decades, the NFL has undergone significant changes, including rule modifications, technological advancements, and an expansion to 32 teams, providing increased entertainment and global reach.

By exploring these frequently asked questions, you can deepen your knowledge of the NFL’s rich history and appreciate the contributions of the pioneering teams and individuals who shaped the league into the global phenomenon it is today.

Moving forward, our focus shifts to the impact and legacy of these early NFL teams on the sport of American football.

Tips on Researching “Who Were the First NFL Teams?”

Delving into the history of the National Football League (NFL) can be a fascinating endeavor. To conduct effective research on the topic of “Who Were the First NFL Teams?,” consider the following tips:

Explore Historical Archives: Visit libraries, museums, and online databases to access historical records, such as newspapers, team rosters, and league documents. These resources provide firsthand accounts and insights into the early days of the NFL.

Consult Reputable Sources: Refer to established books, academic journals, and official NFL publications for accurate and reliable information. These sources are often written by historians or experts in the field and undergo rigorous fact-checking.

Examine Primary Sources: Seek out original documents, such as letters, contracts, and photographs, related to the early NFL teams. Primary sources offer direct evidence of the era and can provide valuable insights into the motivations and challenges faced by these pioneers.

Analyze Team Rosters and Statistics: Study the rosters and statistics of the first NFL teams to gain a deeper understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and key players. This information can help you assess their contributions to the development of the sport.

Consider the Cultural and Social Context: Understand the societal and cultural landscape of the early 20th century to appreciate the challenges and opportunities faced by the first NFL teams. Factors such as transportation, technology, and societal attitudes influenced the league’s formation and evolution.

Interview Experts and Historians: Engage with individuals who have dedicated their careers to studying the history of the NFL. Interviews can provide valuable insights and perspectives that may not be readily available in written sources.

By following these tips, you can enhance the accuracy, depth, and authenticity of your research on the first NFL teams. Remember to approach your investigation with a critical mindset, evaluating the credibility of sources and seeking diverse perspectives to form a well-rounded understanding of this important topic.

Conclusion

The establishment of the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920 marked the genesis of the National Football League (NFL), forever altering the landscape of American sports. The 14 original teams that comprised the APFA, including iconic names like the Akron Pros, Buffalo All-Americans, and Canton Bulldogs, played a pivotal role in shaping the game of football and laying the groundwork for the NFL’s unparalleled success.

As we reflect on the legacy of these pioneering teams, their contributions extend far beyond the gridiron. They embodied the spirit of innovation, resilience, and determination, overcoming numerous obstacles to establish a league that would captivate generations of fans. Their impact can be felt in the game’s strategies, rules, and cultural significance, solidifying American football as a cherished national pastime.


Uncover the Origins of the NFL: Unveiling the First Teams to Take the Gridiron