The History Page: NFL year one, 1920


Form a professional league, they decided.  

The year was 1920 and a group of businessmen, based primarily in

the upper Midwest, met at Ralph Hay's motorcar store in Canton, Ohio.

They organized to put the pigskin into play for pay. Naming athletic giant

Jim Thorpe as president added some heft to the enterprise.

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The American Professional Football Association was born, fielding 10 teams:

Rock Island Independents to the west, Rochester Jeffersons to the east,

with the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Chicago Cardinals, Cleveland Tigers,

Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, Hammond Pros and Muncie Flyers all aboard.

Another four teams joined later that inaugural autumn: Buffalo All-Americans,

Columbus Panhandles, Detroit Heralds and a second team based in Chicago, the Tigers

The association was underway, 14 teams in all. 

But it was a bust -- or should have been, as most teams were unable to pay the

freight going forward, despite the token franchise fee of a hundred bucks.

When the APFA reorganized in 1922, four teams were already defunct.

Eight new teams were added and the association was

renamed the National Football League.     

     Why is 1920 recognized as NFL "year one"?

Because of one man and the two teams that outlived him,

historical nuggets to be found in the Team Series shop.   

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Sparse motion picture footage from that dropkick era exists today, attesting to its

limited appeal a century ago, unlike the primary professional spectator sports of the era:

baseball and boxing. Considering how pro football went on to become the most

popular sport in America, the story of its origin has all but disappeared into

the black hole of time. 

____________________________________________________ commemorates this forgotten cornerstone of

modern American culture with distinctive shirts, pullovers and embroidered ballcaps.  

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A few things to keep in mind about the professional game as it took shape.  

A century ago, football jerseys didn't bear player numbers or team names.

Helmets were leather skullcaps and a 'seasoned' nose served as the face guard.

"Branding" was in its infancy, so few, if any, teams had a logo.

Some teams had colors, some didn't. Since that age of photography was

black & white, it's uncertain if representations today are accurate.   

   ♦    ♦    ♦ has dutifully researched the history of NFL year one, the 1920 

American Professional Football Association.  If teams had a featured color, it's

reflected in the attire offered here, homage to the game's evolution in the 

period wedged between World War I and the Roaring Twenties.


                                                                     Henry                               Warren               Estelle & Jack 

Football historians may have noticed the absence of the oldest 

team in this introduction, Racine Cardinals.  Wisconsin may have had a

second pro team at the time with the same name -- but this wasn't it. 

Check out the Racine Cardinals in the APPAREL SHOP for more of the story.

A brief history of the NFL originals accompanies every team dropkick shirt and

ballcap display, including inaugural champion Akron Pros, runner-up

Buffalo All-Americans and the curious case of the Hammond Pros.

________________________________ dry goods available now

Our exclusive line of garments present a double feature:
Cotton shirts and pullovers are individual team homage,  
backside the league's pigskin emblem, roster of original NFL teams.
If not inclined to choose a team, we offer the  Century Collection
including the celestial Galloping Ghosts master in black. 
Now for the sharpest look ever in a ballcap!
Embroidered cotton twill choices sure to offer your new favorite.
See it all in the APPAREL SHOP.
Spectacular designs and free shipping for all orders.
Welcome!  Click any green text to shop.