|Based in||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|League||Ohio League (1910–1919)
Independent (1920, 1922–1923)
American Professional Football Association (1921)
|Team History||Cincinnati Celts (1910–1923)|
|Team Colors||Black, Celts Gold, White
|Head coaches||Mel Doherty|
|Home field(s)||Traveling Team|
The Cincinnati Celts (pronounced with a hard C) was the first professional football team to play in Cincinnati, Ohio. The team played in the unofficial "Ohio League" and the American Professional Football Association (renamed the National Football League in 1922). The Celts were a traveling team, playing all of their APFA games in other cities' stadia. In its only season in the APFA, 1921, the team had a record of 1–3. For the entire span of the team's existence, the Celts were coached by Mel Doherty, who was also the team's center.
The Celts were established in 1910 as a semi-pro team made up primarily of players from Miami University in nearby Oxford, Ohio. During the first 10 years of their existence, the team flourished playing numerous semi-pro teams from Ohio. An early member of squad, George Roudebush, referred to the team as being run “by a bunch of wild Irishmen”. In 1914 Lou Partlow played for the Celts.
1916 Pine Village game
Probably the greatest moment in the team's early existence came against a team from Pine Village, Indiana, in 1916. While Pine Village consisted of only 300 residents, it was the top team in Indiana before World War I, compiling a record of undefeated for 13 seasons. In 117 games, they had only once been tied. Pine Village faced the Celts before a crowd of 2,500 people in nearby Lafayette. With Pine Village leading the Cincinnati 6–2, the Celts forced to punt. George Roudebush then lined up behind the punter. Under the rules of the time, anyone lining up behind the punter was eligible to recover the kick as a free ball. After the ball was kicked, Roudebush ran down the field. Pine Village, not wanting to touch the ball, was unaware that Roudebush was eligible to recover it. Roudebush recovered the ball in the Pine Village end zone, giving the Celts a 9–6 victory.
When the APFA was formed in 1920, the Celts were at first not invited to join the new league. A year later, though, the team finally joined the AFPA. However the Celts could not keep up with the competition on the field. During their only four league games, the Celts were outscored 117 to 14. The team's only two touchdowns, and victory, came during a 14–0 shutout of the Muncie Flyers. The Celts also faced the 1920 APFA champion Akron Pros, Cleveland Tigers and the Evansville Crimson Giants losing handily in each contest. They finally withdrew from the league just before it was renamed as the NFL in 1922. For many years the NFL record book listed the Celts as having an APFA record of 0–8–0. After reviewing records from the era, the NFL corrected the standings.
The team's finances were also troubling. Attandence at their games never peaked above 2,500 spectators. the Celts were also unable to pay even the nominal league fees. The Celts continued as an amateur team until 1923.
- Cincinnati Celts profile at Cincy Sports History
- Cincinnati Celts profile at Ohio History Central
- Cincinnati Celts 1921 overview at databaseFootball.com
- Carroll, Bob (1988). "Roudebush Knew The Rules". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 10 (4): 1–3.