Wonder Why Wednesday: 1st NFL Game

Tomorrow, the Seattle Seahawks will take on the Green Bay Packers in a much anticipated contest to kickoff the new NFL season.

The game marks the first of the year and it got me thinking about the history of the NFL. I realized that I don’t know much about the league’s history.

I know that this season is Super Bowl XLIX, and while I was never too good at math featuring letters, but I am pretty sure that means Super Bowl 49.

So the league is at least 49 years old. But I am fairly positive that the league was around for sometime before it started calling the championship game the Super Bowl.

All that leads me to today’s Wonder Why Wednesday. I want to know about the first NFL game ever played. When did it take place? Who played? And what was the score. Let’s find out…

Wonder Why Wednesday: What was the first NFL game ever played?

Accurate history on the first NFL game was not easy to find. I looked all over but kept finding conflicting reports.

You’d think I was looking for a national treasure or something. Nicolas Cage has an easier time stealing the Declaration of Independence.

From what I can tell, this video from the Pro Football Hall of Fame has the most accurate report.

Here’s a recap of the video…

Professional football has been around since 1892, but the first pro league did not organize until 1920.

On September 26, 1920 a game featuring the Rock Island Independents of the American Professional Football Association (renamed to the NFL in 1922) and the St. Paul Ideals (a pro team from another league) took place at Rock Island’s Douglas Park. The Independents defeated the Ideals 48-0 in front of a crowd of 800 people. Not the ideal score for St. Paul, haha.

One week later, October 3, the first game featuring two APFA teams was held at Triangle Park, Dayton. The Dayton Triangles handled the Columbus Panhandlers 14-0, with Lou Partlow of Dayton scoring the first touchdown in a game between Association teams. The same day, the Rock Island Independents soared past the Muncie Flyers 45-0.

The APFA did not even keep official standings back then which explains why it is so difficult to pinpoint the first NFL game.

So the NFL has gone from not even keeping stats to making fantasy football stats easier to locate than National Treasure movies.

The team names have also changed quite a lot. Here is a list of teams from that 1920 season:

Akron Pros

Decatur Staleys (now known as the Chicago Bears)

Buffalo All-Americans

Rock Island Independents

Chicago Cardinals (now known as the Arizona Cardinals)

Dayton Triangles

Rochester Jeffersons

Canton Bulldogs

Detroit Heralds

Cleveland Tigers

Hammond Pros

Chicago Tigers

Columbus Panhandles

Muncie Flyers

Yes, there were 2 teams named the Pros and 2 teams named the Tigers. I would say that teams were not creative with names back then, but then how do you explain the Triangles and the Jeffersons.

(Side note, I am pretty sure that the line “how do you explain the Triangles and the Jeffersons” is an actual quote that Nic Cage says in a National Treasure movie.)




Photo credit: Wikipedia