First NFL Game

The NFL playoffs are underway. There are a handful of teams competing for an eternal place in history, those on the outside looking in, and those that have been long forgotten. With all of the current quarterback controversies, coach changes, and imaginary girlfriend stories its easy to forget about the sport’s past. The inaugural 1920 American Professional Football Association (renamed the National Football League in 1922) ¬†season consisted of only 14 teams. Only the Chicago Bears (then the Decatur Staleys) and the Arizona Cardinals (previously, Chicago Cardinals) have survived and remain NFL teams. Out of the original 14 teams, 5 were from Ohio: Akron Pros, Dayton Triangles, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, and the Columbus Panhandles. Akron won the league championship in the inaugural 1920 season.

Most stadiums today would be considered a “wonder of the world” by 1920′s standards so don’t be surprised when I tell you that a Dayton city park at the convergence of the Miami and Stillwater Rivers is home to the first NFL game ever played. Triangle Park, located on the city’s north side, hosted the first NFL game between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles.

 

 

The two Ohio teams met on Sunday October 3, 1920. The first half consisted of strong defensive play on both sides as the half ended in a 0-0 tie. Fans with (0,0) in their office box pools were ecstatic. The tie was broken early in the 3rd quarter when Dayton Triangles running back, Lou Partlow, scored the first touchdown in NFL history. It was capped off by a George Kinderdine extra point. The game’s remaining points came off a 60-yard punt return by Frank Bacon of the Triangles (the first special teams touchdown). When the final whistle was blown, the Triangles had defeated the Panhandles 14-0. The score was the least significant outcome of the game. More importantly, an American past time was born.

 

 First NFL Game