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ROCK ISLAND INDEPENDENTS, original NFL team 1920. Quality cotton shirt. Free Shipping!

Item Description

Quality cotton t-shirt, graphics front and back:

Team front in green, league pigskin emblem back.

Free shipping.


The Rock Island Independents lasted 20 years, before the fatal decision departing the fledgling NFL for a new enterprise, the American Football League*.

The Independents had been a stable organization with a solid following. The best years were the late teens, seasons leading up to the formation of the NFL (originally known as the American Professional Football Association) in 1920.

Akin to another team owner (Leo Lyons of the Rochester Jeffersons), Walter Flanigan had first joined Rock Island as a player, shaping the team into one of the country's best. Both men attended the charter meeting of the APFA in Canton. 

But like every pigskin enterprise before World War II, profitability proved elusive.

When college star Red Grange ("The Galloping Ghost") joined the Chicago Bears and attracted a legion of fans and big money to the NFL, he and business partner CC Pyle went for broke a year later by creating the AFL in 1926 -- based in the East Coast population center. 

The Rock Island Independents jumped at the opportunity to switch leagues. But after just one season, both the AFL and Rock Island were out of business. Considering that all but a pair of the NFL's original 14 teams would perish, Rock Island's move was a gambit for survival. 

It should also be mentioned that well past his prime in 1924, the incomparable athlete Jim Thorpe suited up Independents' green. 

*Not to be confused with the American Football League founded by Lamar Hunt in 1959, which merged with the NFL a decade later.

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