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1920 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 26, 1920 - December 19, 1920
Champions Akron Pros
National Football League seasons
  1921 > 

The 1920 NFL season was the inaugural regular season of the National Football League. The league was formed at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio on August 20 by four independent professional American football teams from Ohio: Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, and Dayton Triangles. The four parties had played against each other unofficially as the "Ohio League" since 1903, complete with "championships," but it wasn't until 1920 that the league was formalized. At the meeting, they first called their new league the "American Professional Football Conference."

A second organizational meeting was held in Canton on September 17, adding more teams to the league: the Hammond Pros and the Muncie Flyers from Indiana; the Rochester Jeffersons from the New York Pro Football League; and the Rock Island Independents, the Decatur Staleys, and the Racine Cardinals from Illinois. At the meeting, the league was given a new name: American Professional Football Association (It would not be changed to National Football League until 1922).

Four other teams also joined the Association during the year: Buffalo All-Americans (also from the NYPFL), Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, and Detroit Heralds. Meanwhile, Jim Thorpe of the Canton Bulldogs was named the APFA's first president, but continued to play for the team.

However, the scheduling was left up to each team. There were wide variations, both in the overall number of games played and in the number played against other Association members. Thus, no official standings were maintained. In addition, football teams in the APFA also faced independent football teams not associated with the league. For instance, the Rochester Jeffersons played a schedule consisting mostly of local teams from their local sandlot circuit and the NYPFL, not the APFA.

The Akron Pros ended up being the only undefeated team in the Association. Despite this, two one-loss teams (the Decatur Staleys and Buffalo All-Americans), who both tied Akron that year, also made cases for a co-championship. At the league meetings in Akron on April 30, 1921, the Pros were awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup for the 1920 season, the only year the trophy was used, at the motion of Columbus Panhandles manager Joe Carr, who would be elected as league president several weeks later at the next meeting.

Contents

1920 schedule

Week 1
September 26, 1920
Visitor Score Home Score Location
St. Paul Ideals (0-1-0) 0 Rock Island Independents (1-0-0) 48 Douglas Park
Week 2
October 3, 1920
Wheeling Stogies (0-1-0) 0 Akron Pros (1-0-0) 43 Akron League Park
West Buffalo (0-1-0) 6 Buffalo All-Americans (1-0-0) 32 Canisius Field
Pitcairn Quakers (0-1-0) 0 Canton Bulldogs (1-0-0) 48 Lakeside Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-1-0) 0 Dayton Triangles (1-0-0) 14 Triangle Park
Moline Universal Tractors (0-1-0) 0 Decatur Staleys (1-0-0) 20 Staley Field
Muncie Flyers (0-1-0) 0 Rock Island Independents (2-0-0) 45 Douglas Park
All-Buffalo (0-1-0) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (1-0-0) 10 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 3
October 10, 1920
Columbus Panhandles (0-2-0) 0 Akron Pros (2-0-0) 37 Akron League Park
All-Buffalo (0-2-0) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (2-0-0) 51 Canisius Field
Toledo Maroons (0-1-0) 0 Canton Bulldogs (2-0-0) 42 Lakeside Park
Chicago Cardinals (0-0-1) 0 Chicago Tigers (0-0-1) 0 Cubs Park
Cleveland Tigers (0-0-1) 0 Dayton Triangles (1-0-1) 0 Triangle Park
Kewanee Walworths (0-1-0) 7 Decatur Staleys (2-0-0) 25 Staley Field
Cleveland Panthers (0-1-0) 14 Detroit Heralds (1-0-0) 40 Mack Park
Hammond Pros (0-1-0) 0 Rock Island Independents (3-0-0) 26 Douglas Park
Fort Porter (0-1-0) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (2-0-0) 66 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 4
October 17, 1920
Cincinnati Celts (0-1-0) 0 Akron Pros (3-0-0) 13 Akron League Park
McKeesport Olympics (0-1-0) 7 Buffalo All-Americans (3-0-0) 28 Canisius Field
Cleveland Tigers (0-1-1) 0 Canton Bulldogs (3-0-0) 7 Lakeside Park
Moline Universal Tractors (0-2-0) 3 Chicago Cardinals (1-0-1) 33 St. Rita's Field
Detroit Heralds (1-1-0) 0 Chicago Tigers (1-0-1) 12 Cubs Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-3-0) 0 Fort Wayne Friars (1-0-0) 14 Fort Wayne League Park
Hammond Pros (0-2-0) 0 Dayton Triangles (2-0-1) 44 Triangle Park
Decatur Staleys (3-0-0) 7 Rock Island Independents (3-1-0) 0 Douglas Park
Utica Knights of Columbus (0-0-1) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (2-0-1) 0 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 5
October 24, 1920
Cleveland Tigers (0-2-1) 0 Akron Pros (4-0-0) 7 Akron League Park
Toledo Maroons (0-2-0) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (4-0-0) 38 Canisius Field
Canton Bulldogs (3-0-1) 20 Dayton Triangles (2-0-2) 20 Triangle Park
Chicago Cardinals (1-1-1) 0 Rock Island Independents (4-1-0) 7 Douglas Park
Decatur Staleys (4-0-0) 10 Chicago Tigers (1-1-1) 0 Cubs Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-4-0) 0 Detroit Heralds (2-1-0) 6 Mack Park
Syracuse Stars (0-1-0) 7 Rochester Jeffersons (3-0-1) 21 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 6
October 31, 1920
Akron Pros (5-0-0) 10 Canton Bulldogs (3-1-1) 0 Lakeside Park
Rochester Jeffersons (3-1-1) 6 Buffalo All-Americans (5-0-0) 17 Canisius Field
Detroit Heralds (2-2-0) 0 Chicago Cardinals (2-1-1) 21 Cubs Park
Chicago Tigers (1-2-1) 7 Rock Island Independents (5-1-0) 20 Douglas Park
Columbus Panhandles (0-5-0) 0 Cleveland Tigers (1-2-1) 7 Dunn Field
Cincinnati Celts (0-2-0) 7 Dayton Triangles (3-0-2) 23 Triangle Park
Decatur Staleys (5-0-0) 29 Rockford A.C. (0-1-0) 0 Kishwaukee Park
Hammond Pros (1-2-0) 14 Logan Square (0-1-0) 9 Logan Square Park
Week 7
November 7, 1920
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (0-1-0) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (6-0-0) 35 Canisius Field
Canton Bulldogs (4-1-1) 18 Cleveland Tigers (1-3-1) 0 Dunn Field
Chicago Cardinals (3-1-1) 6 Chicago Tigers (1-3-1) 3 Cubs Park
Columbus Panhandles (1-5-0) 10 Zanesville Mark Grays (0-1-0) 0 Zanesville, Ohio
Decatur Staleys (5-0-1) 0 Rock Island Independents (5-1-1) 0 Douglas Park
Hammond Pros (2-2-0) 14 Pullman Thorns (0-1-0) 13 Chicago, Illinois
Utica Knights of Columbus (0-1-1) 7 Rochester Jeffersons (4-1-1) 27 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 8
November 11, 1920
Decatur Staleys (6-0-1) 20 Champaign Legion (0-1-0) 0 Champaign, Illinois
Rock Island Independents (5-1-2) 7 Thorn Tornadoes (0-0-1) 7 Monmouth, Illinois
November 14, 1920
Akron Pros (5-0-1) 7 Cleveland Tigers (1-3-2) 7 Dunn Field
Columbus Panhandles (1-6-0) 7 Buffalo All-Americans (7-0-0) 43 Canisius Field
Chicago Tigers (1-4-1) 0 Canton Bulldogs (5-1-1) 21 Lakeside Park
Cincinnati Celts (0-3-0) 0 Chicago Cardinals (4-1-1) 21 Chicago, Illinois
Dayton Triangles (4-0-2) 21 Rock Island Independents (5-2-2) 0 Douglas Park
Decatur Staleys (7-0-1) 3 Minneapolis Marines (0-1-0) 0 Nicollet Park
Detroit Heralds (2-2-1) 0 Fort Wayne Friars (1-0-1) 0 Fort Wayne League Park
Hammond Pros (2-3-0) 6 Gary Elks (1-0-0) 7 Gleason Field
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (1-1-0) 6 Rochester Jeffersons (4-2-1) 0 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 9
November 21, 1920
Dayton Triangles (4-1-2) 0 Akron Pros (6-0-1) 13 Akron League Park
Canton Bulldogs (6-1-1) 3 Buffalo All-Americans (7-1-0) 0 Canisius Field
Lansing Oldsmobile (0-1-0) 0 Chicago Cardinals (5-1-1) 14 Chicago, Illinois
Toledo Maroons (0-3-0) 0 Cleveland Tigers (2-3-2) 14 Dunn Field
Columbus Panhandles (1-6-1) 0 Zanesville Mark Grays (0-1-1) 0 Zanesville, Ohio
Hammond Pros (2-4-0) 7 Decatur Staleys (8-0-1) 28 Staley Field
Rochester Scalpers (0-1-0) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (5-2-1) 16 Rochester Baseball Park
Week 10
November 25, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (6-2-1) 0 Akron Pros (7-0-1) 7 Akron League Park
Decatur Staleys (9-0-1) 6 Chicago Tigers (1-5-1) 0 Chicago Cub Park
Columbus Panhandles (1-6-2) 0 Elyria Athletics (0-0-1) 0 Lorain, Ohio
Detroit Heralds (2-3-1) 0 Dayton Triangles (5-1-2) 28 Triangle Park
Hammond Pros (2-5-0) 0 Chicago Boosters (1-0-0) 27 DePaul Field
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (2-1-0) 14 Rochester Jeffersons (5-3-1) 3 Rochester Baseball Park
November 28, 1920
Akron Pros (8-0-1) 14 Dayton Triangles (5-2-2) 0 Triangle Park
Cleveland Tigers (2-4-2) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (8-1-0) 7 Buffalo Baseball Park
Decatur Staleys (9-1-1) 6 Chicago Cardinals (6-1-1) 7 Normal Park
Thorn Tornadoes (0-1-1) 0 Chicago Tigers (2-5-1) 27 Cubs Park
Lansing Oldsmobile (0-1-1) 0 Detroit Heralds (2-3-2) 0 Mack Park
Rochester Scalpers (0-2-0) 6 Rochester Jeffersons (6-3-1) 7 Rochester Baseball Park
Washington and Jeffe Collegians (0-1-0) 7 Rock Island Independents (6-2-2) 48 Douglas Park
Week 11
December 4, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (6-3-1) 3 Buffalo All-Americans (9-1-0) 7 New York Polo Grounds
December 5, 1920
Akron Pros (8-0-2) 0 Buffalo All-Americans (9-1-1) 0 Buffalo Baseball Park
Canton Bulldogs (6-3-2) 0 Washington Glee Club 0 New Haven, Connecticut
Chicago Cardinals (6-2-1) 0 Decatur Staleys (10-1-1) 10 Cubs Park
Columbus Wagner Pirates (0-1) 0 Columbus Panhandles (2-6-2) 24 Neil Park
Detroit Maroons (0-0-1) 7 Detroit Heralds (2-3-3) 7 Mack Park
Rochester Scalpers (0-2-1) 0 Rochester Jeffersons (6-3-2) 0 Exposition Park
Week 12
December 11, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (6-4-2) 7 Union AA of Phoenixville (1-0-0) 13 Phillies Park
December 12, 1920
Akron Pros (8-0-3) 0 Decatur Staleys (10-1-2) 0 Cubs Park
Week 13
December 18, 1920
Canton Bulldogs (7-4-2) 39 Richmond Athletics (0-1-0) 0 Boulevard Field
December 19, 1920
Chicago Cardinals (6-2-2) 14 Chicago Stayms (0-0-1) 14 Pyott Field

Unofficial final standings

This is the unofficial standings of teams within the APFA. Records of independent football teams are not included.

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: Tie games were not counted in the standings until 1972.

Team W L T PCT PF PA
Akron Pros 8 0 3 1.000 151 7
Decatur Staleys 10 1 2 .909 164 21
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 1 .900 258 32
Chicago Cardinals 6 2 2 .750 115 43
Rock Island Independents 6 2 2 .750 201 49
Dayton Triangles 5 2 2 .714 150 54
Rochester Jeffersons 6 3 2 .667 156 57
Canton Bulldogs 7 4 2 .636 208 57
Detroit Heralds 2 3 3 .400 53 82
Cleveland Tigers 2 4 2 .333 28 46
Chicago Tigers 2 5 1 .286 49 63
Hammond Pros 2 5 0 .286 41 154
Columbus Panhandles 2 6 2 .250 41 121
Muncie Flyers 0 1 0 .000 0 45

Unofficial league leaders

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Scoring

Name Team PTS
Dutch Sternaman Decatur 86
Ockie Anderson Buffalo 71
Tommy Hughitt Buffalo 53
Fritz Pollard Akron 42
Bodie Weldon Buffalo 41

Rushing touchdowns

Name Team TDs
Dutch Sternaman Decatur 11
Ockie Anderson Buffalo 8
Tommy Hughitt Buffalo 8
Bob Argus Rochester 6
Fritz Pollard Akron 5
Joe Guyon Canton 5

Receiving touchdowns

Name Team TDs
Norb Sacksteder Dayton 3
Dave Reese Dayton 2
Bunny Corcoran Canton 2
George Halas Decatur 2

Return touchdowns

Name Team TDs
Arnie Wyman Rock Island 3
Ockie Anderson Buffalo 3
Al Nesser Akron 3
Frank Bacon Dayton 2
Swede Youngstrom Buffalo 2
Lenny Sachs Chicago C 2
Leo Chappell Chicago C 2

References

1920 NFL Season
Akron Buffalo Canton Chicago Cardinals
Chicago Tigers Cleveland Columbus Dayton
Decatur Detroit Hammond Muncie
Rochester Rock Island

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