Frank Nied in 1935 with a golf trophy that he donated for a tournament at J. Ed Good Park in Akron, Ohio
August 14, 1894|
|Died:||May 13, 1969
St. Petersburg, Florida
|Position(s)||Owner, Head Coach|
|Career highlights and awards|
Francis Theodore Nied (August 14, 1894 – May 13, 1969) was a founder of the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League in 1922), as well as the owner of the Akron Pros and, as the team became known as in 1926, the Akron Indians.
Nied lived in Akron on South College Street and operated a cigar store in the six-story Hamilton Building at Main and Mill streets. It was a gathering place for athletes and fans, and filled with sports memorabilia and photos. The building was demolished in 1929 to make room for the 28-story building now known as FirstMerit Tower. Nied reopened the cigar store in the new building, but closed out his interests in 1947, selling to drugstore owner William J. Balaun.
Nied retired to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he reportedly died there in 1955 at the age of 61. However, the date of his death is listed by Pro Football Reference as being much later, May 13, 1969.
Purchasing the Indians
After experiencing financial losses from 1912 to 1919, The Akron Indians was sold to Neid and Art Ranney, an Akron businessman and former football player at the University of Akron. The 1919 Indians finished the season 5-5-0 and lost money despite the presence of one of the country's best breakaway runners, Fritz Pollard. The new owners soon dropped the Indian moniker and adopted the new name the "Akron Pros," hoping to inspire better results, or at least better attendance. The team's home field Akron's League Park was laid out by Nied's father, Lew, in 1906 at the corner of Carroll and Beaver streets.
Founding of the NFL
Ranney and Neid attended the August 20, 1920 and September 17, 1920 meeting that set up the NFL. The minutes for the September 17, 1920 meeting were kept on the stationary of the Akron Pros football team by Ranney, who was then elected secretary-treasurer of the league.
The Pros won the very first APFA championship. On April 1921 the league voted to award the title and the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup to Akron on the basis of an undefeated record and only 7 points allowed in 9 games. the decision was protested by the Decatur Staleys and the Buffalo All-Americans, who had tied Akron during the season. Neid and Ranney picked up the trophy and, according to league records, gave congratulatory speeches.
After a third-place finish in 1921, the Pros began to decline. In 1926, their name was changed back to the Indians, but that didn't help. Neid coached the team for 6 games that ended in a dismal 1-3-2 record. Due to financial issues, Neid suspended team operations in 1927 and surrendered the franchise the following year.
Race and the NFL
In the 1940s, Fritz Pollard allegeded that several of the owners attempted to raise the issue of a color barrier in pro football. According to Pollard, Doc Young of the Hammond Pros as well as Akron's Neid and Ranney refused to allow the discussion to take place. They could not understand why a player could not be considered a player without his color being brought into account.
Pollard also stated that Neid and Ranney befriended him and feared for his safety as an African-American. Neid would allow Pollard to dress for home games at his cigar store and drive him to and from the game. Neid also made Pollard the first African-American coach in the NFL. Pollard states that Neid told every Akron player "that if they didn't want to listen to me, they could leave right then."
- Price, Mark J. (April 25, 2011). "Local history: Searching for lost trophy". Akron Beacon Journal.
- "Twilight 1919" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-11.
- "Happy Birthday NFL?" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 2 (8): 1–4. 1980. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-02.
- Carroll, Bob (1982). "Akron Pros 1920" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 4 (12): 1–4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-02.
- Carroll, John M. (1992). Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06799-1.
- New York Times News Service (February 27, 1978). "Pollard Doesn't Look Like a Legend". The Virgin Islands Daily News. New York Times: 27.