American Football League (1926)

American Football League (1926)

"8 tied with 12 points each"

Touchdown Passes

"15 tied with one touchdown run each"

Field Goals

Demise of the first AFL

While a new nine-team AFL was competing against a National Football League that expanded to 26 teams for the 1926 season, optimism yielded to economic reality for both leagues as most professional football franchises were on financially shaky ground. The war for talent and audience had a disastrous effect on all but the strongest teams. Of the 31 teams that were in existence in 1926, only 12 survived to play in 1927.

While the Yankees and the Quakers were consistently drawing large crowds, the rest of the AFL were not, and one by one AFL franchises were going out of business, even with the financial assistance of C. C. Pyle. The first sign of trouble occurred in mid-October, when Rock Island played its last home game (of three consicutive) and started wandering like the Wildcats. The following week, Brooklyn played its third (and last) home game in the AFL, in front of mainly empty stands. On October 24, 1926, the Newark Bears changed its nickname to the Demons, played a scoreless tie with Rock Island, and disbanded hours after the end of the game. The following week saw the end of the Cleveland franchise.

November 1926 wasn't much brighter for the house of cards that was the American Football League. The Brooklyn Horsemen left the league when it merged with its NFL cousins, the Lions, and played the last three games of its existence (three shutout losses) as the Horsemen. By the middle of the month, the Boston Bulldogs called it quits, as did Rock Island a week later. By Thanksgiving of 1926, there were only four teams operating in the AFL (New York, Chicago, the Wildcats, and Philadelphia), with only the Quakers making a profit for the year and Pyle was spending money to keep the other three teams afloat.

As the Yankees went on a barnstorming tour and the Quakers repeatedly tried to arrange for a game between champions of the two leagues, the Wildcats officially became inactive (in reality, they were touring with the Yankees as the "designated opponent". The New York Giants (seventh place) accepted the Quakers' challenge, opting for a game in the Polo Grounds on December 12, 1926. The Quakers hopes for both football credibility and a financial windfall evaporated in a blustery snowstorm as only 5000 witnessed complete domination of the AFL champs by the Giants. The final score was 31-0.

The same day, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Yankees met for the last American Football League game in Comiskey Park. The Yankees won, 7-3. The league was no more.

After the AFL

While the bulk of the AFL disappeared at the demise of the league, two members had an official existence after the Giants-Quakers game. Although the Brooklyn Horsemen disbanded after its last NFL game, the team's franchise was never withdrawn or canceled by the league. Tim Mara purchased the franchise and proceeded to lease it to C. C. Pyle for his New York Yankees team. The agreement between the two rivals limited the number of home games that the Yankees were permitted to play in its namesake stadium (four in 1927) and forced to be primarily a road team displaying the talents of Red Grange. This arrangement lasted for two years: the Yankees were no more after the 1928 season.


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