NFL History: The Stories Behind the Original Towns

The seeds of American football history were planted in the busy year of 1920, in the thick of the early 20th century boom. The American Professional Football Association (APFA), the forerunner of the National Football League (NFL), was founded when ten teams came together in Canton, Ohio. Explore the diverse narratives from the 14 Original NFL Towns, where rivalries were sparked and legends were created.

Canton Bulldogs: Champions of Old

Canton, Ohio, a town now synonymous with football greatness, was the cradle of the Canton Bulldogs. With stars like Jim Thorpe gracing their roster, the Bulldogs clinched back-to-back NFL titles in 1922 and 1923, etching their name in history. Their record of 25 consecutive wins still stands tall, a testament to their dominance on the gridiron.

Chicago Cardinals vs. Bears: The Oldest Rivalry

In the Windy City, the Chicago Cardinals and the Decatur Staleys (later Chicago Bears) clashed in 1920, birthing the NFL’s oldest rivalry. Led by superstar Paddy Driscoll, the Cardinals claimed victory in their first encounter, igniting a fierce battle for supremacy. Though the Cardinals eventually migrated to Arizona, the rivalry with the Bears endures as a testament to Chicago’s football legacy.

Chicago Tigers: A Brief Flame

The Chicago Tigers, while short-lived, left an indelible mark on NFL history. In their single season, they faced off against local rivals like the Racine Cardinals, sealing their fate with a legendary showdown. Despite their valiant efforts, the Tigers disbanded, but their legacy lives on as one of the league’s founding teams.

Honoring Football’s Icons

Legends have walked the NFL’s path, leaving their mark on history through their accomplishments. These pioneers helped to shape the modern game, from George Halas’ creation of the Chicago Bears to Jim Thorpe’s heroics with the Canton Bulldogs. Once they were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, their names will always serve as a source of motivation for upcoming generations.

Celebrating Football’s Legacy

Across the heartland of America, from Cleveland to Dayton, Columbus to Hammond, the spirit of football beats strong. Each town has woven its own chapter into the fabric of NFL history, from the Cleveland Tigers’ valiant stand against the Akron Pros to the Columbus Panhandles’ inclusive legacy. As the NFL continues to evolve, these towns remain hallowed ground, preserving the essence of a bygone era.

NFL 100 in Dayton, Ohio: Paving the Way Forward

To honor football’s enduring legacy, the NFL Foundation, in partnership with FieldTurf & Vasco, embarks on a new chapter in Dayton, Ohio. A new artificial turf field at Kettering Park will stand as a testament to the game’s enduring spirit, nurturing the dreams of future gridiron stars for generations to come.