Sunday, August 17, 2014

The NFL's Revolving Door



Friends,

I will start out by asking you a trivia question.  Which NFL franchises are the only two original teams remaining?  (The answer is at the end of the post, but no skipping ahead)

I remember the Baltimore Colts.  Then they moved to Indianapolis and became the Indianapolis Colts only to have the Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore and become the Ravens.  But don't confuse them with the current incarnation of the Cleveland Browns!  And then, of course, we have the Cleveland Rams who moved to Los Angeles and became the Los Angeles Rams only to move to St. Louis to replace the St. Louis Cardinals who moved to Arizona.  What fun!  And let's not forget the Dallas Texans who moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs!  Sorry Houston Texans fans, your team's name isn't original.

In 35 years, much has changed in the NFL.  A few posts ago I wrote about the game that put the NFL on the map and helped it start to replace baseball as the most popular sport in the country.  One thing that concerns me about young fans is that they have no concept of where the game came from.  It is like if it didn't happen in their lifetime then they don't know care to know anything about it.  I never saw Dick Butkis make a single tackle.  He was long since retired when I was born, but I still know he is perhaps the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game.  We are fast losing that connection with the sport's past and that is a sad thing.

So let's travel back in time to 1920, the NFL's first season.  Though to be accurate, it wasn't called the NFL yet.  At the time it was called the American Professional Football Association (APFA).  There were 14 teams and, as noted above, only two of them are still in existence today.  There was no fixed schedule that year.  Teams just sort of made it up as they went along which led to some teams playing more games than others!  This is a far cry from the scheduling system that exists today.  Nor were their games confined to just other "professional teams".  Some played against factory teams like the Wheeling Stogies!  The Rochester Jeffersons even played a game against the Knights of Columbus team from Utica!

As they played no official schedule, they also kept no official standings.  When the owners and league officials met in the Spring of 1921, they awarded the Akron Pros the championship as they had the only undefeated season.  Both the Decatur Staleys and the Buffalo All-Americans ended with one loss apiece and demanded a co-championship with Akron as they both played more games, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.  Even back then the NFL was full of controversy!  That, at least, hasn't changed.  But at least they were allowed to tackle back then!  These days I think the quarterbacks and wide receivers should wear pink tutus since the NFL doesn't seem to want tackling to be part of the game anymore.  Sadly now it is all about television ratings and the league wants high scoring games like you have in arena football, hence all the extra penalties they have added for doing the things that you were once taught to do.

So which two teams are the only original ones remaining?  Well, the Decatur Staleys moved to Chicago and became the Chicago Staleys and then later the Chicago Bears. (Da Bears!)  The Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Cardinals only move to Phoenix and become the Phoenix Cardinals.  Now, they are the Arizona Cardinals.  Some think the Green Bay Packers are an original team, but they did not join the league until the second season in 1921.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian and proud member of Who Dat Nation!  Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints!  (To be honest, with their defense, probably a lot of teams this season!)

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