Trying to Make Sense out of Nonsense; The Strike

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Allow me to take you on a trip down memory lane and introduce you to the formative years of the NFL. The wretched memories of World War 1 are dissolving into the ether and a sense of optimism and prosperity is capturing the collective unconsciousness of the nation. It is a time when people are determined to build things and anything is possible. A time when fulfilling dreams consists of establishing legacies of tangible assets and accomplishments, in this case sustainable teams. Money, although pivotal in measuring the success and viability of a team was not the Holy Grail. The realization of one’s dreams was the ultimate reward; to see something you created come alive!

It is 1920 and Olympic legend Jim Thorpe is player coach for the Canton Bulldogs. Cost for entrants into the many leagues was $50.00 or $100.00. Player’s salaries and owners profits/losses were derived from that day gate receipts. Teams came and went so quickly that one hardly knew who would show up on game days. Often teams won by default as there was no opponent. The powerhouses were from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Rules were agreed upon prior to kickoff and would vary from game to game. The pioneer spirit was alive and well; for owners, players and fans shared a vested interest that breathed life into this nascent enterprise known as professional football.

1920 is often the agreed upon date for the formation of the modern football league, as we know it. Although some might argue that professional football’s genesis was in 1882 when clubs, the Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC), led to the making of the first professional football player. Former Yale All-America guard William (Pudge) Heffelfinger was paid $500 by the AAA to play in a game against the PAC, becoming the first person to be paid to play football.