1920 Decatur Staleys season

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1920 Decatur Staleys season
Decatur staleys 1920.jpg
Head coachGeorge Halas
Home fieldStaley Field
Results
Record10–1–2
League place2nd APFA

The 1920 season[1] was the Decatur Staleys 2nd season of existence, the first professional season of the franchise that would go on to be known as the Chicago Bears and their first under head coach George Halas, competing in the newly formed American Professional Football Association.

The team improved on their 6–1 record from 1919 to a 10–1–2 record and earning them a second-place finish in the league standings. In the last league game of the season, the Staleys needed a win versus Akron to have a chance at the title. Akron, predictably, played for a tie, achieved that, and won the first APFA title.

The stars of the Staleys were Ed "Dutch" Sternaman, Jimmy Conzelman, and George Halas. Sternaman had a remarkable season with 11 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TDs, 4 field goals, and 3 PATs, totaling 87 points scored out of the Staleys' total of 164. Jimmy Conzelman ran for two scores and threw two more. Halas led the team in receiving scores with 2.

Offseason[edit]

The Decatur Staleys finished 6–1 in their 1919 season as an independent team.[2] Their 1919 owner, George Chamberlain, asked George Halas to help manage the team, and Halas accepted.[3] After the 1919 season, 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 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 Association.[4][5] They 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 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.[6] Team representatives changed the league's name slightly to the American Professional Football Association and elected officers, installing Jim Thorpe as president.[6][7][8] 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.[9][10] Also, representatives of each team voted to determine the winner of the APFA trophy.[11]

Schedule[edit]

If a team has a dagger (dagger), then that team in a non-APFA team. 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; the yellow-colored cells indicates a tie; and the red-colored cells indicate a loss.

Game Date Opponent Result Record Venue Recap
1 Bye
2 October 3 vs. Moline Universal TractorsNon-APFA team W 20–0 1–0 Staley Field 1,500
3 October 10 vs. Kewanee WalworthsNon-APFA team W 25–7 2–0 Staley Field 1,500
4 October 17 at Rock Island Independents W 7–0 3–0 Douglas Park 7,000
5 October 24 at Chicago Tigers W 10–0 4–0 Cubs Park 5,000
6 October 31 at Rockford A.C.Non-APFA team W 29–0 5–0 Kishwaukee Park 3,000
7 November 7 at Rock Island Independents T 0–0 5–0–1 Douglas Park 4,991
8 November 11 at Champaign LegionNon-APFA team W 20–0 6–0–1 Champaign, Illinois 500
9 November 14 at Minneapolis MarinesNon-APFA team W 3–0 7–0–1 Nicollet Park N/A
10 November 21 vs. Hammond Pros W 28–7 8–0–1 Staley Field 3,000
11 November 25 at Chicago Tigers W 6–0 9–0–1 Cubs Park 8,000
12 November 28 at Chicago Cardinals L 6–7 9–1–1 Normal Park 5,000
13 December 5 at Racine Cardinals W 10–0 10–1–1 Cubs Park 11,000
14 December 12 vs. Akron Pros T 0–0 10–1–2 Cubs Park 12,000
15 Bye
# January 15 at Chicago Logan Square A.C.Non-APFA team T 0–0 Exhibition Dexter Pavilion
(indoor)
N/A

Game summaries[edit]

Week 4: at Rock Island Independents[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Staleys 0 7 0 0 7
Independents 0 0 0 0 0

October 17, 1920, at Douglas Park

After two games against non-APFA teams, the Staleys played against the APFA Rock Island Independents.[12]

Week 7: at Rock Island Independents[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Staleys 0 0 0 0 0
Independents 0 0 0 0 0

November 7, 1920, at Douglas Park

On a five-game winning streak, the Staleys played against the Independents again. The game ended in a 0–0 tie. Several injuries occurred throughout the game for the Independents. Sid Nichols, Fred Chicken, and Oke Smith injured their knees on different plays. Harry Gunderson was hit late by George Trafton and the former had to get thirteen stitches on his face, and his hand was broken.[13]

Week 8: at Minneapolis Marines[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Staleys 0 0 3 0 3
Marines 0 0 0 0 0

November 14, 1920, at Nicollet Park

To conclude their six-game road game streak, the Staleys played against the Minneapolis Marines. The Marines were a non-APFA team but joined the league in 1921.[14] The only score of the game was a 25-yard field goal from Sternaman.[citation needed]

Week 12: vs. Akron Pros[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 0 0 0 0 0
Staleys 0 0 0 0 0

December 12, 1920, at Cubs Park

The Staleys ended their season in week 12 against he Akron Pros. Prior to the game, Halas moved their home field to the much larger Cubs Park in Chicago and hired Paddy Driscoll from the Cardinals to play on his team in order to help defeat the Pros, which was against league rules at the time.[15][16] Twelve thousand fans, which was the largest recorded crowd of the season,[17] showed up to watch the game.[18] Of the crowd, about 2,000 were from Pollard's hometown.[19] The Pros almost scored twice, but failed once because of ineligible receiver penalties.[18] On the other side, Fritz Pollard stopped a Staleys' touchdown against Sternment in the third quarter.[19] On the same drive, the Staleys missed a 30-yard field goal.[18] Chamberlin attempted to injure Pollard twice in an attempt to remove him from the game.[19] The final score ended in a 0–0 tie;[18] however, the Chicago Defender reported that the refereeing was biased towards Decatur.[19]

Post-season exhibition game: at Chicago Logan Square A.C.[edit]

At the start of 1921 Halas organized an indoor football game on January 15 in Chicago’s Dexter Park Pavilion, a practice that was a semi-regular event among the local Chicago teams. The Bears played against a local team called Chicago Logan Square A.C. to a 0-0 tie.

The Staley monthly journal would state in the February 1921 issue that "the 'Western Champions' Played One Game of Indoor Football and Decided That Once Was Enough for Them."[20]

Standings[edit]

1920 APFA standings[21]
W L T PCT DIV DPCT PF PA STK
Akron Prosdagger 8 0 3 1.000 6–0–3 1.000 151 7 T2
Decatur Staleys 10 1 2 .909 5–1–2 .833 164 21 T1
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 1 .900 4–1–1 .800 258 32 T1
Chicago Cardinals 6 2 2 .750 3–2–2 .600 101 29 T1
Rock Island Independents 6 2 2 .750 4–2–1 .667 201 49 W1
Dayton Triangles 5 2 2 .714 4–2–2 .667 150 54 L1
Rochester Jeffersons 6 3 2 .667 0-1-0 .000 156 57 T1
Canton Bulldogs 7 4 2 .636 4–3–1 .571 208 57 W1
Detroit Heralds 2 3 3 .400 1-3-0 .250 53 82 T2
Cleveland Tigers 2 4 2 .333 1–4–2 .200 28 46 L1
Chicago Tigers 2 5 1 .286 1–5–1 .167 49 63 W1
Hammond Pros 2 5 0 .286 0-3-0 .000 41 154 L3
Columbus Panhandles 2 6 2 .250 0-4-0 .000 41 121 W1
Muncie Flyers 0 1 0 .000 0-1-0 .000 0 45 L1

 dagger  Awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup and named APFA Champions.
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

Post season[edit]

Since there were no playoff system in the APFA until 1932,[22] a meeting was held to determine the champions. Each team that showed up had a vote to determine the champions.[23] The Staleys and the All-Americans each stated they should be the champions because they had more wins and were not beaten by the Akron Pros.[17] However, since the Akron Pros had a 1.000 winning percentage, the Pros were awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup on April 30, 1921.[24] Seven players from the Staleys were on the 1920 All-Pro team. Guy Chamberlain, Hugh Blacklock, and George Trafton were on the first team; George Halas was on the second team; and Burt Ingwerson, Ross Petty, and Ed Sternaman were on the third team.[25]

Legacy[edit]

Five players from the 1920 Decatur Staleys roster went on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Guy Chamberlin was in the class of 1965,[26] Jimmy Conzelman was in the class of 1964,[27] Paddy Driscoll was in the class of 1965,[28] George Halas was in the class of 1963,[29] and George Trafton was in the class of 1964.[30] The Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee compiled a list of the National Football League 1920s All-Decade Team. Each of the aforementioned Hall-of-Famers are on this team.[31]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "1920 Decatur Staleys". Independentfootball.site90.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "1919 Decatur Staleys". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  3. ^ "1920s Chicago Bears". Bears History. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  4. ^ PFRA Research (1980), pp. 3–4
  5. ^ Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini (2010), pp. 352–353
  6. ^ a b PFRA Research (1980), p. 4
  7. ^ "Thorpe Made President" (PDF). The New York Times. September 19, 1920.
  8. ^ "Organize Pro Gridders; Choose Thorpe, Prexy". The Milwaukee Journal. September 19, 1920. p. 24.
  9. ^ Peterson (1997), p. 74
  10. ^ Davis (2005), p. 59
  11. ^ Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon-Journal. Archived from the original on July 2, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  12. ^ "Lack of Practice and Poor Physical Condition Account for First Upset of Season". Rock Island Argus. October 18, 1920.
  13. ^ "Staleys Win World's Dirt Title". Rock Island Argus. November 8, 1920.
  14. ^ Quirk (1998), p. 2
  15. ^ Willis (2010), p. 131
  16. ^ Davis (2005), p. 61
  17. ^ a b Carroll (1982), p. 3
  18. ^ a b c d "Decatur and Akron Pros battle to Tie". The Milwaukee Sentinel. December 13, 1920. p. 6.
  19. ^ a b c d Young, Frank (December 18, 1920). "Fritz Pollard Shows Old Time Form as Akron and Staleys Pros Play Tie". Chicago Defender. p. 6.
  20. ^ "Staley's Bears 1920-1921".
  21. ^ "NFL – 1920 Regular Season". National Football League. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  22. ^ "History: The First Playoff Game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011.
  23. ^ PFRA Research (n.d.), p. 1
  24. ^ Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for the Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon Journal. Archived from the original on July 2, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  25. ^ Hogrogian (1984), pp. 1–2
  26. ^ "Guy Chamberlin". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  27. ^ "Jimmy Conzelman". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  28. ^ "John (Paddy) Driscoll". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  29. ^ "George Halas". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  30. ^ "George Trafton". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  31. ^ "NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1920s". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.

References[edit]

External links[edit]