1908-1919: Like many of the early NFL teams the Akron Pros, were playing before the National Football League was founded in 1920. In Akron, the Pros roots go back to 1908 when they were formed as the Akron Indians, a semipro team playing in the Ohio League, a loose confederation of football clubs. The Indians were highly successful, winning four Ohio League Championships in 1908, 1909, 1913 and 1914. Some of the star players from the Pre-NFL Akron Indians included Peggy Parratt, who was a top level quarterback. Unlike many teams that played in that era and concentrated on a ground game, the Indians were one of the first professional teams to rely on a passing game. The 1914 Indians included several top players from Notre Dame including Knute Rockne. Unfortunately having a star studded team would lead to their roster being raided. In 1916 a local brewer, Burkhardt Brewing Company, took over the remains of the Indians and renamed the club the Akron Burkhardts. The Burkhardts would sign Fritz Pollard a top runner, who was the first black player in the Ohio League. Despite Pollard’s abilities to the Burkharts who would become the Indians again struggled and were sold to Suey Welch, who fielded it as an independent club.
1920: On September 17th representatives of 13 Midwestern football teams meet at Ralph Hay’s Hupmobile showroom in Canton, Ohio. The meeting is to form an organized league so that the area can have a champion as well as to help with ticket sales. The group decides to form the American Professional Football Association. All a team has to do to join is pay the $100 membership fee. The minutes of the meeting were recorded on Akron Pros stationary, as Owner Art Ranney, who had just purchased the team from Suey Welch was named Treasurer for the new league. The early years of the AFPA, were more of a loose confederation of professional teams that had teams come and go as they pleased. Teams were even able to schedule games outside the league and count towards the standings. The Akro Pros coached by Elgie Tobin faced an out of league team in their first game, clubbing the Wheeling Stoggies 43-0 in their first game on October 3rd, as Al Nesser had three fumble recoveries lead to touchdowns. I their first game against a league team, the Pros blanked the Columbus Panhandles 37-0. The Pros would also blank the Cincinnati Celts in another non AFPA game 13-0, as they did not allow any points in their first five games, including a 7-0 win over the Cleveland Tigers and Canton Bulldogs. After their game against the non AFPA Detroit Heralds was cancelled by heavy rains, the Pros allowed their first touchdown in a rematch against the Cleveland Tigers that ended in a 7-7 tie. It would be the only points the Akron Pros would allow all season, as they won their next three games beating Canton 7-0 and two wins over the Dayton Triangles 13-0 and 69-0. The Pros would deal Bob Nash prior to their next game against the Buffalo All-Americans for $300 and 5% of the Akron-Buffalo gate, making the first deal in APFA history. The game was played in a driving rain, with neither team being able to score. The Akron Pros would finish the seasons against Decatur Staleys, who would become the Chicago Bears in 1922. The game would decide the league’s first champion as a season best 12,000 fans were in attendance at Cubs Park in Chicago. The Staleys hired Chicago and hired Paddy Driscoll from the Chicago Cardinals to play on his team in order to help defeat the Pros, which was against league rules at the time in an attempt to beat the Pros. The Pros had two scoring chances wiped out by penalties as the game was scoreless. The Staleys tried several times to injure Fritz Pollard, who was often the target of dirty plays for being one of the league’s few African-Americans. However, Pollard fought through and made a game saving tackle, as the game ended in a scoreless tie. The Akron Pros as a result of the tie and finishing 8-0-3 would claim the first league championship, as the Staleys settled for second at 10-1-2. The Pros would later be awarded with the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup . Each player from the Pros was also awarded with a golden key chain, resembling a football with “1920 World Champions” and each player’s first initial and last name was inscribed on it.
1921: Both the Buffalo All-Americans and newly minted Chicago Staleys were unhappy with the Akron Pros being declared champions, arguing they did not win head-to-head matchups in the last two weeks of the season. With Fritz Pollard acting as a co-coach with Elgie Tobin, the Pros again featured a dominant defense as they won their first seven games without allowing a single point. In Week 8 against the Buffalo All-Americans, the Pros would once again play to a scoreless tie. A week later the Pros would suffer their first ever AFPA loss, as they could not solve the Dayton Triangles defense, losing 3-0. The Akron Pros would also lose their next two games, losing to the Canton Bulldogs and All-Americans 14-0. The Akron Pros would finish the season with a record of 8-3-1 as they blanked the Chicago Cardinals to finish the season.
1922: As the AFPA became the National Football League, the Akron Pros lost several key players including Fritz Pollard. The Pros would start the season with a 36-0 win over the Columbus Panhandles, but would struggle their next two games settling for a 13-13 tie against the Rochester Jeffersons and losing to the Canton Bulldogs 22-0. The Akron Pros would rebound with a 62-0 win over the Oorang Indians, before beating the Hammond Pros 22-0. That would be last win all season for Akron, as they went winless over the final five games, finishing in tenth place with a record of 3-5-2.
1923: The Akron Pros downfall continued as they struggled all season, winning just one of seven games, the season finale against the Buffalo All-Americans that was won by a score of 2-0.
1924: Things would not go much better in their fifth season, as the Akron Pros started and ended the season with wins, but lost six straight in between , finishing once again at the bottom of the NFL with a record of 2-6.
1925: For the first time since 1921 the Akron Pros fielded a winning team, as they started the year with a 7-0 win over the Cleveland Bulldogs, before winning a second straight game against the Kansas City Cowboys 14-7. The Pros would go unbeaten in their first six games, with four wins and two ties. However, with a chance to get into the race for first place the Pros suffered a 17-7 loss to the Frankford Yellow Jackets, before finishing the season at 4-2-2 with a 21-0 loss to the Pottsville Maroons.
1926: Going back to their pre-NFL days, the Akron Pros become the Akron Indians hoping to renew interest in the team. However, fan support continued to decline in Akron, as the Indians won just one game, and finished with a record of 1-4-3. The Indians would suspend operations following the season, and formally cease operations a year later without playing another game. As their November 25th scoreless tie against the Canton Bulldogs ended up being their final game.
©MMXV Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Football League. This site is not affiliated with the Akron Pros or the NFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on January 11, 2015. Last updated on January 11, 2015 at 9:55 pm ET.