On the evening of August 11, 1919, a group of young athletes, called together by Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun, gathered in the dingy editorial room of the old Green Bay Press-Gazette building and organized a football team. The initial spark had been struck a few weeks before during a casual street corner conversation between Lambeau and Calhoun. They talked Curly's employer at the Indian Packing Company into putting up some money for equipment. Because the packing company, which also permitted the use of its athletic field for practice, had provided the team's jerseys the club was identified in its early publicity as a project of the company. With this tie-in the name "Packers" was a natural, although the corporation had practically faded out of the picture before the season was half over. That 1st season the team won 10 games and lost only 1 against other teams from Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Games were played in an open field with no fences or bleachers, and interested fans "passed the hat." In 1920, a section of stands was built, but it was just a small bleacher with a capacity of a couple hundred, on one side of the field, and a fee charged to sit there.
THE FIRST NFL TEAMS
OK, so, technically, this list should be the first teams in the American Professional Football Association. The league would not be known as the NFL until 1921. The league was formed in Canton, Ohio on August 20 by four independent professional American football teams from Ohio: Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, and Dayton Triangles.
AKRON PROS (1920-1926) - The team originated in 1908 as a semi-pro team named the Akron Indians, however name was changed to the Pros in 1920. In 1926, the name was changed to back the Akron Indians, after the earlier semi-pro teams. Due to financial problems, the team suspended operations in 1927 and surrendered its franchise the following year.
BUFFALO ALL-AMERICANS (1920-27, 29) - The franchise was called the Buffalo All-Stars from 1915 to 1917, Buffalo Niagaras in 1918, the Buffalo Prospects in 1919, Buffalo All-Americans from 1920-1923, Buffalo Bisons from 1924-1925, 1927 and 1929, and the Buffalo Rangers in 1926. The franchise did not play in 1928 after experiencing financial issues.
CANTON BULLDOGS (1920-25, 26) - They played in the Ohio League from 1903 to 1906 and 1911 to 1919, and in the NFL from 1920 to 1923 and 1925 to 1926. The Bulldogs won the 1922 and 1923 titles. Before the 1927 season, the league decided to purge itself of some of the weaker franchise. Twelve teams were jettisoned, including the Bulldogs.
CHICAGO TIGERS (1920) - The Chicago Tigers played only in the first year of the league, and, because of this, have the distinction of being the first official NFL team to fold. They had a record of 2-5-1 and played its home games at Chicago's Wrigley Field (then called Cub's Park) and was the first NFL team to do so.
CLEVELAND TIGERS (1920-21) - The Cleveland Indians football team was originally established in 1916 and played in the Ohio League. Early in 1922, owner Jimmy O'Donnell received league permission to suspend operations for a year, but when he was unable to post the $1,000 annual guarantee the NFL required, his franchise was cancelled.
COLUMBUS PANHANDLES (1920-26) - In 1901 workers at the Panhandle shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Columbus, Ohio formed a professional football team called the Columbus Panhandles. Following the 1922 season, the Panhandles became the Tigers. This new team was purchased by local businessmen and played as a traveling team.
DAYTON TRIANGLES (1920-29) - The original Dayton Triangles members first began playing together as basketball players at St. Mary's College from 1908 until 1912. By the late twenties, Dayton was one of the league's doormats, winning just five games from 1923-29. Finally, in July 1930, the team moved to Brooklyn and was renamed the Dodgers.
DECATUR STALEYS (1920-now) - Originally named the Decatur Staleys, the club was established by the A. E. Staley food starch in 1919 as a company team. The team relocated to Chicago in 1921, where the club was renamed the Chicago Staleys. George Halas purchased the rights to the club for $100, whereupon they were renamed the Chicago Bears.
DETROIT HERALDS (1920) - In 1905, several University of Detroit footballl players, led by Bill Marshall, organized the Heralds as an amateur team after the University did not field a squad. While the Heralds didn't officially join the APFA, they are listed in league standings for the season, but inclement weather financially devastating the team.
HAMMOND PROS (1920-26) - The Pros were established in 1919 by Paul Parduhn and played most of its games in Chicago's Cub Park, which is now known as Wrigley Field. The Pros played most of their games on the road because Hammond lacked a field with any kind of seating capacity, and the team was dropped from the NFL in 1927.
MUNCIE FLYERS (1920-21) - The origins of the team show that it evolved from the Congerville (Muncie) Athletic Club, which dates back to at least 1905. The team played only three NFL games, and lost them all. After leaving the APFA, the Muncie Flyers reverted back to their original name of the Congerville Flyers, but died out in 1926.
RACINE CARDINALS (1920-now) - The team was established in Chicago in 1898 as the Morgan Athletic Club. They were named the Racine Normals, since Normal Park was located on Racine Avenue in Chicago. The team disbanded in 1906, but reformed in 1913. The club moved to St. Louis in 1960. In 1988, the team moved to Arizona.
ROCHESTER JEFFERSONS (1920-25) - Formed as an amateur outfit by a rag-tag group of Rochester-area teenagers in 1898, the team became known as the Jeffersons in reference to the locale of their playing field on Jefferson Avenue. The team remained technically suspended for 1926 and 1927, but allowed its franchise to expire in 1928.
ROCK ISLAND INDEPENDENTS (1920-25) - The Independents were first formed in 1907, when a group of men formed a team with no club affiliation, no social club ties and no corporate backing or sponsorship. As a result the team was named the Independents. The team jumped to the AFL in 1926, then played as a semi-pro team in 1927, then went under.