The 1931 team was a league-sponsored club that only played games on the road. The NFL had acquired the franchise of the Orange/Newark Tornadoes when that team left the league after the 1930 season; the league intended to locate this team permanently in Cleveland with new ownership. However no suitable owner was found that would put the team in Cleveland, so the team's spot in the league was sold to George Preston Marshall, who established a team in Boston (later known as the Redskins) in the 1932 season.
Among the games this incarnation of the Indians played was an exhibition against the Buffalo Bears in Buffalo, New York, a city that had lost their own NFL franchise, the Bisons, after the 1929 season. It would begin an extensive tradition of neutral-site NFL games in Buffalo that would last until the Buffalo Bills were established in 1960.
The "Indians" name was used previously for two other Cleveland-based NFL teams. They first use of the Indians name came in 1921, when the Cleveland Tigers became the "Cleveland Indians" before folding after the 1921 season. A second "Indians" NFL team arose in 1923. That team played as the "Indians" for the 1923 season before changing its name to the Cleveland Bulldogs in 1924. These three Cleveland teams are viewed as three totally different franchises by the NFL.