1901-1919: The roots of the Columbus Panhandles date back to the start of the 20th century as they were founded by workers at the Panhandle shops along the Pennsylvania Railroads in Central Ohio. In 1904 Joseph Carr a sports writer for the Ohio State Journal took over the team’s ownership. The Panhandles would shut down after two games in 1904, but returned in 1907. The new and improved Panhandles would be guided by the Nesser Brothers a group of seven brothers (Ted, John, Frank, Fred, Phil, Al and Ray ) who followed their father in the railroad industry working as boilermakers while playing football for Columbus for more than a decade. Ted Nesser was considered the toughest playing center and nose tackle. John was the smallest Nesser brother who when he retired in 1921 was 46 the oldest player in NFL history before his record was broken by George Blanda. Frank Nesser was perhaps the most talented Nesser, once was said to have made a 63 yard Field Goal as he was a passer and led the Panhandles in scoring most of his career that lasted 20 years. Fred Nesser was the tallest brother playing fullback and was also a legitimate heavyweight boxing contender. Phil Nesser was said to be the smartest member of the family, later working as a teacher in Columbus. Al Nesser would be the final brother to retire in 1931 and was also the last player in the NFL to not wear a helmet. Ray had the shortest career playing just a few games, before suffering an ankle injury. In addition John Schnedier was married to Mary Rose Nesser. The Nesser had a reputation of playing dirty as none had any formal education, but fans in Columbus loved them and made the Panhandles one of the best drawing teams in the Ohio League.
1920: When the American Professional Football Association was formed, the Columbus Panhandles were one of the league’s charter franchises. The Panhandles played nearly all their games on the road, as they traveled by rail for free and were paid to play on the road in the era when teams made their own schedules. The Columbus Panhandles are believed to have played the Dayton Triangles in the league’s first game on October 3rd, losing 14-0. The Handles would lose their first five games, without scoring. The Panhandles first win would come outside the APFA when they beat the Zanesville Mark Greys 10-0. Columbus would not win any league games, posting a record of 2-7-2.
1921: The Nesser continue to dominate the headlines for the Panhandles as Charlie Nesser joins the team. Charlie was the son of John Nesser, making them the first father and son to play professional football together on the same team. They were joined by Ted Hopkins a nephew who was the son of Anna Nesser. The Panhandles second season in the APFA was not much better than the first as they won just one game inside the league beating the Louisville Brecks to end the season at 1-8, adding two additional outside the league wins for an overall mark of 3-8.
1922: The Panhandles continued to travel and lose, dropping all eight games, while being outscored 174-24. The Panhandles lone home game came against the Jim Thorpe’s Oorang Indians an 18-6 loss. It would also be the final season in which Joseph Carr served as team owner, as he became the first full time President of the league now known as the National Football League. Carr would help bring stability to the NFL serving as president until his passing in 1939, and was greatly responsible for the league emerging from a rag tag mess to the league it is today.
1923: With the departure of Joseph Carr, Columbus looked to distance themselves from the sandlot days in which there were a rugged team of workers on the rail road, changing their name to the Columbus Tigers. The Tigers were able to claw themselves to respectability posting record of 5-4-1 as they played six home games at Neil Park.
1924: The Tigers continued to play a competitive brand of football, splitting eight games. The Tigers would play just two homes games, but would win both beating Akron Pros 17-6 and the Rochester Jeffersons 16-0.
1925: The Columbus Tigers would return to the road, losing all nine games inside the NFL, while being outscored 124-28. Most of the Tigers points came in their final game 14-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Tigers would win two exhibition games against local teams in Columbus, but the league no longer counted games outside the NFL towards the standings.
1926: It would be another long losing season for the Columbus Tigers as they lost six of seven games. Their lone win would come on September 26th against the Canton Bulldogs. Following a season ending 26-0 loss to the Buffalo Rangers on November 7th, the Tigers would be one of 12 teams that are shut down by the NFL which looked to move from a crowded field of 22 teams to a manageable ten.
©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 Columbus Panhandles or Columbus Tigers 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 29, 2015. Last updated on January 29, 2015 at 9:55 pm ET.