1920 Cleveland Tigers (NFL) season

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1920 Cleveland Tigers season
Head coach Stan Cofall and Al Pierotti
Home field Dunn Field
Results
Record 2–4–2
Division place 10th AFPA
Playoff finish No playoffs until 1932
Timeline
Previous season Next season
1919 1921

The 1920 Cleveland Tigers season was the franchise's inaugural season in the American Professional Football Association (APFA) and fifth total as an American football team. The Tigers entered the season coming off a 5-win, 2-loss, 2-tie (5–2–2) record in 1919. After the 1919 season, several representatives from the Ohio League, a loose organization of profession football teams, wanted to form a new professional league; thus, the APFA was created.

The Tigers opened the season with a 0–0 tie against the Dayton Triangles, en route to a 2–4–2 record, which placed the team 10th in the final standings. In week 8, the Tigers scored 7 points against the Akron Pros, which was the only points Akron allowed all season. The sportswriter Bruce Copeland compiled the 1920 All-Pro list, but no players from the Tigerss were on it. As of 2012, no player from the 1920 Tigers roster has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Offseason[edit]

The Cleveland Tigers finished 5–2–2 in their 1919 season in the Ohio League.[1] After the 1919 season, representatives of four Ohio League teams—the Canton Bulldogs, the Tigers, the Dayton Triangles, and the Akron Pros—called a meeting on August 20, 1920 to discuss the formation of a new league. At the meeting, they tentatively agreed on a salary cap and pledged not to sign college players or players already under contract with other teams. They also agreed on a name for the circuit: the American Professional Football Conference.[2][3] They then invited other professional teams to a second meeting on September 17.[4]

At the second meeting, held at Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay's Hupmobile showroom in Canton, representatives of the Rock Island Independents, the Muncie Flyers, the Decatur Staleys, the Racine Cardinals, the Massillon Tigers, the Chicago Cardinals, and the Hammond Pros agreed to join the league. Representatives of the Buffalo All-Americans and Rochester Jeffersons could not attend the meeting, but sent letters to Hay asking to be included in the league.[5] Team representatives changed the league's name slightly to the American Professional Football Association and elected officers, installing Jim Thorpe as president.[5][6][7] 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.[8][9] Also, representatives of each team voted to determine the winner of the APFA trophy.[10]

Schedule[edit]

Dunn Field, the home stadium of the 1920 Cleveland Tigers
1920 Cleveland Tigers season[11]
Week Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance Record
1 No game scheduled
2 No game scheduled
3 October 10, 1920 at Dayton Triangles 0–0 T Triangle Park N/A 0–0–1
4 October 17, 1920 at Canton Bulldogs 7–0 L Lakeside Park 8,000 0–1–1
5 October 24, 1920 at Akron Pros 7–0 L League Park N/A 0–2–1
6 October 31, 1920 vs. Columbus Panhandles 7–0 W Dunn Field 5,000 1–2–1
7 November 7, 1920 vs. Canton Bulldogs 18–0 L Dunn Field N/A 1–3–1
8 November 14, 1920 vs. Akron Pros 7–7 T Dunn Field 8,000 1–3–2
9 November 21, 1920 vs. Toledo Maroonsdagger 14–7 W Dunn Field N/A 2–3–2
10 November 28, 1920 at Buffalo All-Americans 7–0 L Buffalo Baseball Park 5,000 2–4–2
11 No game scheduled
12 No game scheduled
13 No game scheduled

Game summaries[edit]

Week 3: at Dayton Triangles[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Triangles 0 0 0 0 0

October 10, 1920 at Triangle Park

In their opening game of the 1920 season, the Tigers played the Dayton Triangles. The Triangles were coming off a historic game; it was the first match between two APFA teams.[12] No team scored in this game, and it ended in a 0–0 tie.[13]

Week 4: at Canton Bulldogs[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulldogs 7 0 0 0 7

October 17, 1920 at Lakeside Park

The Tigers next faced the Canton Bulldogs, which would be the Bulldogs' first APFA opponent. The Tigers lost 7–0 before a crowd of 7,000 people.[14] The Bulldogs' offense had 15 first downs, and the only score of the game came when the Bulldogs' Ike Martin had a 7-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.[14][15] Jim Thorpe of the Bulldogs, who would later be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,[16] made his season debut in the game, coming in as a substitute in the fourth quarter.[15]

Week 5: at Akron Pros[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 7 0 0 0 7

October 24, 1920 at League Park

The Akron Pros were the Tigers' next opponent. Playing in front of 6,000 fans, the game was called a "punting duel" by the Youngstown Vindicator.[17] The only score came from a punt block by Akron's Bob Nash in the first quarter. Nash grabbed the ball from the Tigers' punter, Stan Cofall, on the 8-yard line and ran in for the score.[17] With an extra point from Charlie Copley, the Pros defeated the Tigers 7–0 to keep their undefeated season alive.[17] During the game, injuries for both teams occurred. Pollard of the Pros dislocated his right shoulder, and Toughey Conn for the Tigers injured his right leg in the fourth quarter.[18]

Week 6: vs. Columbus Panhandles[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Panhandles 0 0 0 0 0
Tigers 0 7 0 0 7

October 31, 1920 at League Park

In week 6, the Tigers played against the Columbus Panhandles. In front of 5,000 fans,[19] the Tigers won 7–0.[20] The lone score came from a rushing touchdown in the second quarter from Charlie Brickley.[21] This was the eighth straight loss for the Panhandles, dating back to 1919, and the seventh straight without scoring.[22] According to football historian Chris Willis, this loss for the Panhandles crushed the city of Columbus and made the Panhandles challenge lesser teams for the rest of the season.[22]

Week 7: vs. Canton Bulldogs[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 14 2 2 18
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0

November 7, 1920 at Dunn Field

Tigers' next game was played against the Canton Bulldogs, who were coming off their first loss of the season.[23] Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs ran for two touchdowns in the second. Calac and Grigg had 6- and 15-yard rushing touchdowns.[24] The Bulldogs' defense forced two safeties—one in the third and one in the fourth quarter—to win the game 18–0.[24]

Week 8: vs. Akron Pros[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 0 7 0 0 7
Tigers 0 0 7 0 7

November 14, 1920 at Dunn Park, Cleveland, Ohio

In week eight, the Tigers had a rematch with the Pros. Playing in front of 8,000 fans,[25] the Pros allowed their first and only points of the year from a 50-yard touchdown pass from Mark Devlin to Tuffy Conn and an extra point by Al Pierotti in the third quarter.[26] Pollard had a 20-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter and Copley made an extra point to tie the game at 7–7, making it the second tie of the season for the Tigers. The final score of the game was a 14–0 victory for the Tigers.[26]

Week 9: vs. Toledo Maroons[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Maroons 0 0 0 0 0
Tigers 7 0 0 7 14

November 21, 1920 at Dunn Field, Cleveland, Ohio

The Toledo Maroons were the Tigers' next opponent. The Maroons were an independent team but joined the APFA in 1922.[27] Prior to this game, the Maroons did not score a point against an APFA tem all season, and that streak continued into this game.[28] In the first quarter, Baston blocked a kick and ran it for a touchdown. He would later score the game's final points in the fourth as he caught a receiving touchdown from Pierotti.[29]

Week 10: at Buffalo All-Americans[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
All-Americans 0 0 7 0 7

November 28, 1920 at Buffalo Baseball Park

In their final game of the 1920 season, the Tigers played against the Buffalo All-Americans, who were coming off their first loss of the season.[30] The Public Ledger called the game "scrappy"; most forward passes were blocked, and neither team's offense was productive.[31] A total of 5,000 fans showed up to the game.[30] The All-Americans had possession on the 5-yard line and the 1-foot line, but the Tigers' defense stopped them.[31] The only score of the game came in the third quarter. Anderson scored an 8-yard rushing touchdown.[32]

Post-season[edit]

Due to several losses, the Triangles did not contend for the APFA trophy in 1920. The Tigers' performance of 2–4–2 would be the team's best before folding in 1921.[33] Sportswriter Bruce Copeland compiled the 1920 All Pro team, but no players made the list.[34] As of 2012, no players from the 1920 Dayton Triangles were enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[35]

Roster[edit]

Standings[edit]

1920 APFA standings[37]
W L T PCT DIV PF PA STK
Akron Prosdagger 8 0 3 1.000 6–0–3 151 7 T2
Decatur Staleys 10 1 2 .909 5–1–2 164 21 T1
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 1 .900 4–1–1 258 32 T1
Chicago Cardinals 6 2 2 .750 3–2–2 101 29 T1
Rock Island Independents 6 2 2 .750 4–2–1 201 49 W1
Dayton Triangles 5 2 2 .714 4–2–2 150 54 L1
Rochester Jeffersons 6 3 2 .667 0–1 156 57 T1
Canton Bulldogs 7 4 2 .636 4–3–1 208 57 W1
Detroit Heralds 2 3 3 .400 1–3 53 82 T2
Cleveland Tigers 2 4 2 .333 1–4–2 28 46 L1
Chicago Tigers 2 5 1 .286 1–5–1 49 63 W1
Hammond Pros 2 5 0 .286 0–3 41 154 L3
Columbus Panhandles 2 6 2 .250 0–4 41 121 W1
Muncie Flyers 0 1 0 .000 0–1 0 45 L1

  dagger  Awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup and named APFA Champions.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "1919 Cleveland Tigers". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ PFRA Research 1980, pp. 3–4
  3. ^ Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini 2010, pp. 352–353
  4. ^ PFRA Research 1980, p. 1
  5. ^ a b PFRA Research 1980, p. 4
  6. ^ "Thorpe Made President" (PDF). The New York Times. September 19, 1920. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Organize Pro Gridders; Choose Thorpe, Prexy". The Milwaukee Journal. September 19, 1920. p. 24. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ Peterson 1997, p. 74
  9. ^ Davis 2005, p. 59
  10. ^ Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  11. ^ NFL History 2003, pp. 1–7
  12. ^ * Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob (1981). "The First NFL Game(s)". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 3 (2): 1–4. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ NFL History 2003, p. 1
  14. ^ a b NFL History 2003, p. 2
  15. ^ a b "Canton Beats Cleveland". The Toledo News-Bee. October 18, 1920. p. 14. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Jim Thorpe". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c "Cleveland is Loser to Fast Akron Eleven". Youngstown Vindicator. October 15, 1920. p. 10. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Akron Downs Cleveland Tigers". The Toledo News-Bee. October 25, 1920. p. 12. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ Willis 2007, p. 177
  20. ^ "Brickley Boy Wins for Cleveland". The Toledo News-Bee. November 1, 1920. p. 12. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  21. ^ NFL History 2003, p. 3
  22. ^ a b Willis 2007, p. 173
  23. ^ "1920 Canton Bulldogs". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b NFL History 2003, p. 4
  25. ^ "1920 Akron Pros". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  26. ^ a b "Cleveland and Akron in Draw". Youngstown Vindicator. November 5, 1920. p. 9. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Toledo Maroons". Ohio History Central. Ohio Historical Society. July 1, 2005. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  28. ^ "1920 Toledo Maroons". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  29. ^ NFL History 2003, p. 5
  30. ^ a b "1920 Buffalo All-Americans (APFA)". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b "Cleveland Tigers Fall Before Buffalo Eleven". Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). November 29, 1920. p. 21. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  32. ^ NFL History 2003, p. 6
  33. ^ "Cleveland Tigers Team Encyclopedia". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  34. ^ Hogrogian, John (1984). "1920 All-Pros". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 6 (1). Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Alphabetically". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  36. ^ "1920 Cleveland Tigers (APFA)". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved December 7, 2012
  37. ^ "NFL – 1920 Regular Season". National Football League. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 

References[edit]

Akron Pros Buffalo All-Americans Canton Bulldogs Racine Cardinals
Chicago Tigers Cleveland Tigers Columbus Panhandles Dayton Triangles
Decatur Staleys Detroit Heralds Hammond Pros Muncie Flyers
Rochester Jeffersons Rock Island Independents