88 years ago Thursday, the NFL made a plan to get smaller

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Eighty-eight years ago Thursday, the NFL finalized a plan to get smaller.

A lot smaller.

The plan, which was led by Commissioner Joe Carr, was to contract some of the struggling clubs to improve the league’s financial health, as the NFL’s Record and Fact Book points out. “The Man Who Built The National Football League,” a biography of Carr, notes contraction discussions began earlier in the winter, were formalized on April 23, 1927 and executed in July.

When the 1927 season began, a leaner-and-meaner NFL was in place. The league, which fielded 22 teams the previous year, now had just 12 clubs — 10 holdovers and two teams that were not in the NFL in 1926.

Moreover, a dozen teams had exited stage left, never to play again in the NFL. Ultimately, the Akron Indians, Brooklyn Lions, Canton Bulldogs, Columbus Tigers, Detroit Panthers, Hammond Pros, Hartford Blues, Kansas City Cowboys, Los Angeles Buccaneers, Louisville Colonels, Milwaukee Badgers and Racine Tornadoes disappeared from the NFL for good.

For eight cities — Akron, Canton, Columbus, Hammond, Hartford, Louisville, Milwaukee and Racine — this was the end of having an NFL team within its boundaries.

So what happened to the 12 teams that remained in the NFL in 1927?

Within five years, eight of the clubs — the Buffalo Rangers, Cleveland Bulldogs, Dayton Triangles, Duluth Eskimos, Frankford Yellow Jackets, New York Yankees, Pottsville Maroons and Providence Steam Roller — were gone.

However, the Chicago Bears, Chicago Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants were still around, just as they are today, with only the Cardinals (now in Arizona) having changed markets.

57 responses to “88 years ago Thursday, the NFL made a plan to get smaller

  1. Portsmouth Spartans, 1930-33. No mention of them? Moved to Detroit in 1934.
    I know, not an original…but, I had to get that piece of history in.

  2. Frankford yellow jackets actually won an NFL title…which is more than Lurie can say.. In Chip I wonder…

  3. I think the NFL is a little poorer for never having any subsequent team call itself the Steam Rollers.

  4. It’s just a matter of time before the NFL has another contraction, it’s just business.

    Small market teams like Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Tennessee & San Diego (unless they move to LA) are on borrowed time.

    The Browns have a great fan base and so do the Packers, they will survive.

  5. Best name on that list? Frankford Yellow Jackets

    Why? Because why all the rest are the names of cities, the Frankford Yellow Jackets represented a small neighborhood in northeast Philly

  6. The Eskimos were the cat’s meow, see. If I remember correctly their kicker got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct for dancing the charleston after a successful drop-kick. I think Goodell suspended him for it.

  7. So many of those nicknames got recycled into today’s NFL. I guess there are only so many to go around.

  8. “If there is ever a competition for worst “professional” writer, you are going to win in a blowout.”

    My money’s on Gantt.

  9. Slightly incorrect on at least one subject. While the Duluth Minnesota (the city i love in) Eskimos did move from minnesota, they werent gone. They moved to Washington DC and became the Redskins. So the Redskins used to be Eskimos. Theres an interesting fact for ya.

    You may or may not have also heard of Duluth from a certain little football movie starring George Clooney, whose character played for the Duluth Bulldogs, a ficticious team based on the Eskimos, though duluths ncaa football team is the Bulldogs.

  10. The league obviously didn’t want the Racine Tornadoes to win a game due to its non-politically correct team name. During every game of the season, the league faced protests at every location from wind all across the country demanding the derogatory “Tornadoes” team name be taken down because 99.9% of wind isn’t a tornado and wind was tired of seeing its existence used as a slur.

  11. Pretty sure the Frankford yellow jackets became the Eagles. I think that’s where they got those yellow and blue striped jerseys from.

  12. A lot of weird names back then. Who can believe they named teams the Triangles, Maroons, or Packers?

  13. joe6606 says:
    Apr 23, 2015 7:11 PM

    Racine? Hammond?

    Never heard of these cities

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Racine was also home to the Belles, one of the original teams in the AAGPBL (women’s pro baseball while the men were away at war during WWII). They were also the first league champions.

    If you’ve never seen the movie “A League Of Their Own” it is well worth your time to watch.

  14. interesting article, and even more funny that there was 2 sports, baseball and football team’s name Yankee..

    I wonder, do they share same logo as Yankee traditionally used? or how the design look like if differ?

  15. Nice article.
    And the comments are even better.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if this were the norm around here? Make the fan boys/trolls/ amateur lawyers/GMs/ HCs argue with each other on another forum?

    Nah……….

  16. Am I to understand that 11 of the Packers 13 “Championships” came when there was less than 12 teams playing? There wasn’t even a playoffs back then, was there?

  17. “For eight cities — Akron, Canton, Columbus, Hammond, Hartford, Louisville, Milwaukee and Racine — this was the end of having an NFL team within its boundaries.”

    Milwaukee hosted some Packer games each season from the fifties until the nineties.

  18. Lol even in 1926-27 LA was losing teams. Why after so many franchises fail in LA would you want more teams there smh.

  19. The Redskins did not start in Duluth. They began in Boston as the Braves, yes sharing the same name as the baseball team. They changed the name to Redskins on their way south to DC…

  20. Those mascot names are the bees knees! Or some other old timey phrase that means awesome.

  21. widerightyouloseagain says:
    Apr 23, 2015 7:05 PM

    It’s just a matter of time before the NFL has another contraction, it’s just business.

    Small market teams like Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Tennessee & San Diego (unless they move to LA) are on borrowed time.

    The Browns have a great fan base and so do the Packers, they will survive.
    ——————————————————
    Borrowed time? Their stadiums are packed every Sunday, and they’re making money hand over fist. This ain’t the early 20th Century anymore, pal.

  22. From the Pro Football HOF History page…

    1899
    Chris O’Brien formed a neighborhood team, which played under the name the Morgan Athletic Club, on the south side of Chicago. The team later became known as the Normals, then the Racine (for a street in Chicago) Cardinals, the Chicago Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals, and, in 1994, the Arizona Cardinals. The team remains the oldest continuing operation in pro football.

  23. My grandfather played several games for Frankford and Pottsville also I believe. He stated that the best thing that happened to him is that he got hurt and had to find a real job. Not much pay I guess.

  24. The games were as tough to win back then as they are now. The competition was on par with itself, as it is now. The best was still playing the best, as they do now. The evolution of sports correlates to society in general. Nothing is diminished by the accomplishments of those old teams simply because they can’t compete with the athletes of today.

    Little if anything from those days can compete with the current versions….like cars, phones, and just about everything you can think of.

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