1915-1919: Prior to being one of the first, AFPA franchises the Buffalo All-Americans played in the Buffalo Semi-Pro Football League and New York Pro Football League. Playing as the All-Stars, Niagaras and Prospects, Buffalo was one of the best professional football teams, winning the City title in 1918 and the state championship in 1919. Buffalo tried to claim a National Title, but few recognized any team outside the Ohio League as champion. It was this desire to have a top level professional league that opened the door for the formation of the American Professional Football Association, which would become the National Football League.
1920: The newly minted Buffalo All-Americans were one of the top teams in the new professional football leagues established following a September 17th meeting in Canton, Ohio. Under the new league structure, teams created their schedules dynamically as the season progressed, so there were no minimum or maximum number of games needed to be played. The All-American Buffalo team started the season with four games outside the APFA, beating two teams from inside the City of Buffalo, before beating team from McKeesport, Pennsylvania and Toldeo, Ohio. In their first league game the All-Americans got a touchdown from John Weldon and a blocked punt to beat the Rochester Jeffersons 17-6 on October 31st. After blanking non-league member All-Tonawanda 35-0, the All-Americans got four rushing touchdowns from Cedric Smith to beat the Columbus Panhandles 43-7. A week Buffalo would suffer its first loss of the season on a muddy field in Canton 3-0, as the only score was a late Field Goal by Bulldogs Kicker Al Freeney. Buffalo bounced back to beat the Cleveland Tigers 7-0 a week later. The All-Americans would get revenge against the Canton two weeks later, winning 7-3 in a game played in New York’s Polo Grounds. The All-Americans would end the season against the Akro Pros, before the game Buffalo acquired Bob Nash in the league’s first trade. The deal was made to help the Pros financially with the agreement 5% of the gate would go to Akron’s coffers. Nash would not appear in the game that was played in a driving rain storm with neither team being able to score. The Pros would claim the league’s first championship, while the All-Americans finished with a record of 9-1-1. Buffalo along with the Decatur Staleys would protest the Pros Championship claiming they each won more games and were not defeated by Akron, who was declared champion thanks to their 8-0-3 record.
1921: After their bitter finish in their first year of the AFPA, the All-Americans would do just about anything to win, and began to employ players contracted to other professional teams that did not play in the AFPA. Most notably they had several players from the Independent Philadelphia Quakers. Since Philadelphia was subject to blue laws the Quakers had to play their games on Saturdays, as opposed to the Sundays used by the APFA, including Buffalo. The Buffalo players played for Philadelphia on Saturday, then traveled to Buffalo for Sunday’s game. The added man power helped the All-Americans get off to a strong start winning their first six games. Following a second straight scoreless tie against the Akron Pros, the All-Americans illegal player usage came to light. Each player was given the choice to remain in Buffalo or play for Philadelphia, with five players including Lud Wray choosing to play for the Quakers, feeling that Buffalo had blown the whistle themselves top force the players to remain in Buffalo fulltime. Fortunately for Buffalo, at the same time the Detroit Tigers Football team had ceased operations, and their players would be allocated to Buffalo as they faced a key game against the Canton Bulldogs which ended in a 7-7 tie. Four days later on Thanksgiving the All-Americans would beat the Chicago Staleys 7-6 at Cubs Park to take over first place, the All-Americans would win their next two games, and appeared to be in position to win the AFPA Championship with a record of 9-0-2. However, the All-Americans agreed to a rematch with Chicago on December 4th, thinking the game would not count in the standings. On the day before their rematch with the Staleys the All-Americans played a home game against the Akron Pros, winning 14-0. Taking an overnight train to Chicago the All-Americans would be without the players they received from Detroit, as the Tigers reformed to play an exhibition game against the Detroit Maroons. The shorthanded and tired All-Americans played hard in Chicago, but ultimately lost the game 10-7. The season ended for Buffalo at 9-1-2, while Chicago played two more games winning one and tying one to finishing 9-1-1. Staleys Owner and Coach George Halas declared his team champions of the AFPA. Buffalo Owner Frank McNeil cried foul, saying his team was tricked into thinking the game was an exhibition and would have not played the game otherwise and should not count toward the standings. Halas and the Staleys who would become the Chicago Bears in 1922 already had a greater influence on the rest of the league, and were award the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup as the league ruled a second meeting would be the tiebreaker if both team’s had the same record and played two games. Buffalo’s Frank McNeil remained distraught by “The Staley Swindle” and would fight for the rest of his life to have the NFL overturn the decision and declare the Buffalo All-Americans Champions of the 1921 AFPA season.
1922: Following the hard to swallow Staley Swindle, the Buffalo All-Americans would open their third season, in the newly reminted National Football League with back-to-back shutout wins over the Hammond Pros and Columbus Panhandles before a rematch against George Halas and the Chicago Bears. The All-Americans had no answers for the Bears defense as they suffered a 7-0 loss at Cubs Park on October 22nd. The All-Americans would beat the Dayton Triangles 7-0 a week later, but would go winless in their next four games. Buffalo would go on to finish the season by shutting out the Rochester Jeffersons and Akron Pros to finish with a record of 5-4-1.
1923: Ockie Anderson who had been a key player for the Buffalo All-Americans was forced to retire due to a knee injury. Without one of their key offensive players the All-Americans again struggled and finished in eighth place with a record of 5-4-3.
1924: Owner Frank McNeil would sell the Buffalo franchise to Coach Tommy Hughitt and Warren D. Patterson, the team would then change the name from All-Americans to Bisons borrowing a stock name used by other teams in the area, including their minor league baseball team. The newly renamed Bisons played well early in the season, winning six of their first eight games. However, they finished the season poorly losing their final three games by a combined score of 90-7. After the season Hughit who had been coaching Buffalo since 1917 stepped down to concentrate on running the team as an owner.
1925: Columbia University star and Buffalo native Walter Koppisch became the new coach of the Bisons, and was expected to become the face of the franchise as they battled the new Giants franchise from New York for his services. However, the Bisons got off to a terrible start losing their first two games to the Frankford Yellow Jackets 27-7 and Pottsville Maroons 28-0. Looking for a jumpstart the Bisons signed Jim Kendrick away from his contract with the Hammond Pros on October 1st. The next two games saw the Bisons play scoreless ties against the Rochester Jeffersons and Akron Pros, before beating the Columbus Tigers 17-6 for the first win of the season. However, the Bisons suffered another setback a few days later as Walter Koppisch was injured in an automobile accident. Koppisch was advised to sit out a few games, as the Bisons lost their final four games and finished the season with a record of 1-6-2. Following the season the Bisons would terminate the contract of Koppisch, allowing him to join the New York Giants.
1926: With Red Grange’s barnstorming tour helping the popularity of Professional Football grow, and new leagues trying to rival the NFL, the Bisons decide to change their name to the Buffalo Rangers due to several players being from Texas and the Southwestern United States as the team considered moving to Texas or operating as a traveling team representing Texas, similarly to the Los Angeles Buccaneers under new Coach Jim Kendrick. The plan never gained much traction as the Rangers posted a mediocre mark of 4-4-2. Following the season the Rangers would lose most of their team including Coach Jim Kendrick citing their dislike for the harsh winters in Buffalo.
1927: The Rangers experiment is abandoned as the team once again would play as the Buffalo Bisons in 1927. The Bisons would name Dim Batterson, a local high school and college coach and an assistant with the team since 1925 as their new head coach as the team tried to recover from the mass defections. The Bisons would get off to a terrible start, losing their first five games by a combined score of 123-8. With the team losing money, and being uncompetitive on the field a decision was made to suspend operations and the Bisons remaining games were cancelled.
1929: After sitting out the entire 1928 season, the Bisons returned to the field in 1929 with Al Jolley as their new coach. Among the players on the roster was Jess Rodriguez, the first Hispanic-American player in NFL history. The Bisons were not much better than they were before suspending operations, as they never led in any of their first eight games, suffering seven losses with a tie. The Bisons would finish the season with a 19-7 win over the Chicago Bears on November 24th. It was the first time that Buffalo had beaten the Bears since the Staley Swindle. It would also be the final game the Buffalo Bisons would ever play as the team folded after the season. The NFL would consider Buffalo for expansion over the next 30 years, but never added a team. In the meantime Buffalo get a franchise in the All-American Football Conference in 1946, the league would merge with the NFL, but due to George Halas’ longstanding animosity to Buffalo, would not be invited to join the NFL. Finally in 1960 the American Football League was born, with the Buffalo Bills being a charter member.
©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 Buffalo Bisons 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.