1920 Muncie Flyers season
|1920 Muncie Flyers season|
|Head coach||Ken Huffine|
|Home field||Traveling team|
|Division place||14th APFA|
|Playoff finish||No playoffs until 1932|
The 1920 Muncie Flyers season was the franchise's inaugural season in the American Professional Football League (APFA)—later named the National Football League. The Flyers entered the season coming off a 4–1–1 record in 1919. Several representatives from the Ohio League wanted to form a new professional league; thus, the APFA was created. The 1920 team only played in one game that counted in the standings: a 45–0 loss against the Rock Island Independents. This game and the Columbus Panhandles–Dayton Triangles on the same date is considered to be the first league game featuring two APFA teams. The Flyers tried to schedule other games, but the opponents canceled to play better teams. As a result, the Flyers had to play the rest of the season's game versus local teams. In week 10, the Flyers won a game against the Muncie Offers More AC for the Muncie City Championship. No players from the 1920 Muncie Flyers were listed on the 1920 All-Pro Team, and no player has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Muncie Flyers, playing as the Muncie Congerville Flyers, finished 4–1–1 as an independent team in 1919. They concluded this season with a win over Avondale AA and won the Muncie City Championship. Representatives of four Ohio League teams—the Canton Bulldogs, the Cleveland Tigers, the Dayton Triangles, and the Akron Pros—called a meeting on August 20, 1920 to discuss the formation of a new, professional 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 agreed on a name for the circuit: the American Professional Football Conference.
Earl Ball, the Flyers' manager, heard about this gathering on August 29 and was interested in participating. The original four representatives then invited other professional teams to a second meeting on September 17. At that meeting, held at Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay's Hupmobile showroom in Canton, representatives of the Rock Island Independents, the 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. Team representatives changed the league's name slightly to the American Professional Football Association and elected officers, installing Jim Thorpe as president. Under the new league structure, teams created their schedules dynamically as the season progressed, and representatives of each team voted to determine the winner of the APFA trophy.
The Flyers hosted a practice game against the Muncie Tigers on September 26, 1920, but the result of the game is unknown. The Flyers' first game of the season was against the Rock Island Independents. The Independents beat the Flyers 45–0. As a result, the Staleys, who were supposed to play the Flyers the next week, cancelled because they wanted to play a better team. The Flyers tried to schedule game for the next few weeks but were unsuccessful. Since there were no rules to keep players on teams, several Flyers' players left and played for other teams. The Flyers scheduled a game against the Cleveland Tigers three weeks later, but the game was cancelled because the Tigers decided to play against the Panhandles instead. The same result happened next week against the Dayton Triangles. The Flyers were challenged by the Gas City Tigers and Muncie Offers More AC—two teams of Muncie. These games are not counted in the APFA standings.
The table below was compiled using information from The Pro Football Archives and The Coffin Corner, both of which used various contemporary newspapers. A dagger () represents a non-APFA team. For the results column, the winning team's score is posted first followed by the result for the Flyers. For the attendance, if a cell is greyed out and has "N/A", then that means there is an unknown figure for that game. The green-colored cells indicates a win; and the red-colored cells indicate a loss. The games against the local teams are listed, but are not counted in the final APFA standings.
|1||No game scheduled|
|2||October 3, 1920||at Rock Island Independents||45–0 L||Douglas Park||3,110||0–1|
|3||No game scheduled|
|4||No game scheduled|
|5||No game scheduled|
|6||No game scheduled|
|7||No game scheduled|
|8||No game scheduled|
|9||No game scheduled|
|10||November 25, 1920||at Gas City Tigers||19–7 W||Gas City, IN||N/A||1–1|
|November 28, 1920||at Muncie Offers More AC||24–0 W||Walnut Park||N/A||2–1|
|11||December 5, 1920||at Gas City Tigers||13–7 W||Gas City, IN||N/A||3–1|
|12||No game scheduled|
|13||No game scheduled|
Week 2: at Rock Island Independents
October 3, 1920 at Douglas Park
In their only APFA game counted in the standings, the Muncie Flyers played against the Rock Island Independents. It is considered to be one of the first games played with two APFA teams. Since kickoff times were not standardized, it is unknown if the Muncie–Rock Island or Columbus–Dayton game is the first game. In the first quarter, the Independents scored three touchdowns: two from Arnold Wyman and one from Rube Ursella. In the second quarter, Ursella kicked a 25-yard field goal, and Wyman scored from an 86-yard kickoff return. In the third quarter, Sid Nichols had a 5-yard rushing touchdown, and Waddy Kuehl scored a 7-yard rushing touchdown, en route to a final score of the game was 45–0.
Week 10: at Gas City Tigers
November 25, 1920 in Gas City, Indiana
It took the Flyers eight weeks in order to have a game played; they accepted the Gas City Tigers' challenge to play in Gas City, Indiana on November 18. The Tigers were 9–0 and outscored their opponents 443–9 this season. Halfback Mickey Hole scored a 45-yard rushing touchdown three minutes into the game. On the next possession, the Flyers scored again; Kenneth Huffine scored the touchdown, and Cooney Checkaye kicked the point after, which made the score 13–0. Near the beginning of the second quarter, Checkaye scored, but the extra point was missed. The Tigers scored their only touchdown in the game in the third quarter. The final score of the game was 19–7.
Week 10: at Muncie Offers More AC
|Offers More AC||0||0||0||0||0|
November 28, 1920, at Walnut Park
After their first victory of the season, the Flyers were challenged by the Muncie Offers More AC. The game was labelled as the Muncie City Championship. Since most of the other local teams' seasons were finished, both Muncie teams hired as many as 20 players for the game. The field was muddy, which caused Offers More AC to fumble the ball several times. In the third quarter, the Flyers scored two touchdowns to give them a 14–0 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Flyers added 10 more points—a touchdown and a field goal—in the final quarter to win the Championship 24–0.
Week 11: at Gas City Tigers
December 5, 1920 in Gas City, Indiana
The Flyers last game of the 1920 season was against the Gas City Tigers. The Tigers signed up several players to help them defeat the Flyers. The first quarter was scoreless, as the only near score was from a failed drop kick from the Flyers. The first score of the game came in the second quarter. Weaver of the Tigers returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown. On the Tigers' next possession, they dropped a pass in the endzone on fourth down. Early in the third quarter, a member of the Tigers fumbled, and the Flyers recovered it on the 5-yard line. Huffine score a rushing touchdown on that possession to tie the game 7–7. The last score of the game came from the Flyers; Checkaye returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown to give the Flyers a 13–7 victory. The Tigers almost scored on their final possession on the game but fumbled.
Without any APFA wins, the Flyers could not contend for the APFA Championship. However, with wins against the Gas City Tigers and the Muncie Offers More AC, the Flyers claimed to have won the Indiana State Championship. Sportswriter Bruce Copeland compiled the All-Pro list for the 1920 season, but no player from the Flyers was on the list. Ken Huffine decided to be affiliated with the Chicago Stayles after the 1920 season, and Cooney Checkaye took over the role the following season. It did not help, and the Flyers' final year in the APFA was 1921. As of 2012, no players from the 1920 Muncie Flyers have been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
|1920 APFA standings|
|Rock Island Independents||6||2||2||.750||4–2–1||201||49||W1|
Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup and named APFA Champions.Awarded the
|Muncie Flyers 1920 roster|
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- Sye 2002, p. 1
- PFRA Research 1980, pp. 3–4
- Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini 2010, pp. 352–353
- PFRA Research 1980, p. 4
- "Thorpe Made President" (PDF). The New York Times. September 19, 1920.
- "Organize Pro Gridders; Choose Thorpe, Prexy". The Milwaukee Journal. September 19, 1920. p. 24.
- Peterson 1997, p. 74
- Davis 2005, p. 59
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- Sye 2002, p. 2
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- Braunwart & Carroll 1981, p. 1
- Copeland, Bruce (October 4, 1920). "Wyman's Play too much for Hoosier Team". Rock Island Argus.
- "1920 Gas City Tigers". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012.
- Hogrogian 1984, pp. 1–2
- "Muncie Flyers Team Encyclopedia". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- "Alphabetically". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- "NFL – 1920 Regular Season". National Football League. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob (1981). "The First NFL Game(s)". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 3 (2). Archived from the original on June 11, 2011.
- Davis, Jeff (2005). Papa Bear, The Life and Legacy of George Halas. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0071460543.
- Peterson, Robert (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195076079.
- PFRA Research (1980). "Happy Birthday NFL?". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (8). Archived from the original on June 11, 2011.
- Siwoff, Seymour; Zimmber, Jon; Marini, Matt (2010). The Official NFL Record and Fact Book 2010. National Football League. ISBN 9781603208338.
- Sye, Roy (2002). "Muncie Flyers – 1920". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 24 (2). Archived from the original on March 1, 2012.
|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|