1921 Chicago Staleys season

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1921 Chicago Staleys season
Head coach George Halas
Home field Staley Field, Cubs Park
Record 10–1–1 Overall
9–1–1 APFA
Division place 1st APFA
Playoff finish APFA Champions
Previous season Next season
1920 1922

The 1921 Chicago Staleys season was their second regular season completed in the young American Professional Football Association. The club posted a 9–1–1 record under head coach/player George Halas earning them a first place finish in the team standings and their first league championship. The beginning of the season saw A.E. Staley turn over the team to Halas and Dutch Sternaman, who moved the team to Chicago, Illinois. The team name was changed from the Decatur Staleys to the Chicago Staleys due to a contract between Staley and Halas. The Staleys were quite dominant, but all of Chicago's games were played at home (including one game in Decatur). Two games were against the Buffalo All-Americans; the first, played on Thanksgiving, was won by Buffalo 7–6, giving the Staleys their only loss of the season.

Ed "Dutch" Sternaman and George Halas starred again, with newcomer Gaylord Stinchcomb also contributing. Sternaman scored 32 points, most by kicking, and threw one TD pass. Halas had 3 TD receptions while Stinchcomb led the team with 4 touchdown runs.

De facto championship game[edit]

The All-Americans agreed to rematch the Staleys on December 4 on the condition that the game would be considered a "post-season" exhibition game not to be counted in the standings; had it not, Buffalo would have had an undefeated season and won the title. (Buffalo had played, and defeated, the Akron Pros just one day prior.) Chicago defeated Buffalo in the rematch by a score of 10–7. Halas rebutted that the second game was played on December 4 (well before teams typically stopped playing games in those days), and the Staleys played two more games against top opponents, the Canton Bulldogs and Chicago Cardinals after the second Buffalo game (though, at the time of the Buffalo-Chicago matchup, Chicago had played three fewer games than Buffalo).

The league counted the All-Americans game in the standings, against Buffalo's wishes, resulting in Buffalo (9–1–2) and Chicago (9–1–1) being tied atop the standings. The league then implemented the first ever tiebreaker: a rule, now considered archaic and removed from league rulebooks, that states that if two teams play multiple times in a season, the last game between the two teams carries more weight. Thus, the Chicago victory actually counted more in the standings, giving Chicago the championship. Buffalo sports fans have been known to refer to this, justly or unjustly, as the "Staley Swindle."

Future Hall of Fame Players[edit]

Other Leading Players[edit]

Departed Players from 1920[edit]


Date Opponent Location Result Score Record Attendance
Sunday, Oct 2 Waukegan Legion Staley Field Win 35–0 0-0-0
Monday, Oct 10 Rock Island Independents Staley Field Win 14–10 1–0–0 5,000
Sunday, Oct. 16 Rochester Jeffersons Cubs Park Win 16–13 2–0–0 8,000
Sunday, Oct. 23 Dayton Triangles Cubs Park Win 7–0 3–0–0 8,000
Sunday, Nov 6 Detroit Tigers Cubs Park Win 20–9 4–0–0 6,000
Sunday, Nov. 13 Rock Island Independents Cubs Park Win 3–0 5–0–0 4,000
Sunday, Nov 20 Cleveland Indians Cubs Park Win 22–7 6–0–0 10,000
Thursday, Nov 24 Buffalo All-Americans Cubs Park Loss 6–7 6–1–0
Sunday, Nov 27 Green Bay Packers Cubs Park Win 20–0 7–1–0 7,000
Sunday, Dec 4 Buffalo All-Americans Cubs Park Win 10–7 8–1–0 12,000
Sunday, Dec. 11 Canton Bulldogs Cubs Park Win 10–0 9–1–0 3,000
Sunday, Dec 18 Chicago Cardinals Cubs Park Tie 0–0 9–1–1 2,000
  • Game in italics was against a non-league opponent


W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972

Team W L T PCT
Chicago Staleys 9 1 1 .900
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 2 .900
Akron Pros 8 3 1 .727
Canton Bulldogs 5 2 3 .714
Rock Island Independents 4 2 1 .667
Evansville Crimson Giants 3 2 0 .600
Green Bay Packers 3 2 1 .600
Dayton Triangles 4 4 1 .500
Chicago Cardinals 3 3 2 .500
Rochester Jeffersons 2 3 0 .400
Cleveland Indians 3 5 0 .375
Washington Senators 1 2 0 .333
Cincinnati Celts 1 3 0 .250
Hammond Pros 1 3 1 .250
Minneapolis Marines 1 3 0 .250
Detroit Tigers 1 5 1 .167
Columbus Panhandles 1 8 0 .111
Tonawanda Kardex 0 1 0 .000
Muncie Flyers 0 2 0 .000
Louisville Brecks 0 2 0 .000
New York Brickley Giants 0 2 0 .000



Preceded by
Akron Pros
NFL Champion
Succeeded by
Canton Bulldogs