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The 1920 Akron Pros season was the franchise's first NFL season (it had been known as the Akron Burkhardts in previous years). 1920 was the Pros' first year in the National Football League, then known as the American Professional Football Association (APFA).


1920 Akron Pros season
Head Coach Elgie Tobin
Home Field League Park
Results
Record 8-0-3
Place 1st (APFA)
Playoff Finish NFL Champions
Timeline
Previous season Next season
N/A 1921

The team finished with a record of 8-0-3 (6-0-3 among other APFA teams). The Akron Pros finished in first place in the APFA, and were awarded the title of league champions.[1]

RosterEdit

Starting lineupEdit

OffenseEdit

Name[2] Position GP Height Weight Born
Fritz Pollard TB 11 5'9" 165 January 27, 1894
Rip King FB 11 6'1" 202 October 25, 1895
Harry Harris BB 11 5'9" 175 September 10, 1895
Frank McCormick WB 11 5'11" 190 November 5, 1894
Bob Nash LE 9 6'1" 205 December 16, 1892
Pike Johnson LT 10 5'11" 185 September 30, 1896
Tommy Tomlin LG 11 5'10" 197
Russ Bailey C 11 5'11" 183 October 17, 1897
Alf Cobb RG 11 5'11" 210 June 7, 1892
Charlie Copley RT 11 5'9" 191
Scotty Bierce RE 10 5'9" 164 September 3, 1896
Al Nesser RE 11 6'0" 195 June 6, 1893

Special teamsEdit

Name[2] Position GP Height Weight Born
Russ Bailey K, P, PR, KR 11 5'11" 183 October 17, 1897

Other playersEdit

Name[2] Position GP Height Weight Born
Matt Brown HB 1 5'10 170
Tuffy Conn B 3 5'6" 155 February 22, 1895
Ken Crawford B 7 5'11" 185 September 7, 1898
Budge Garrett E, G, FB 7 5'9" 200 April 17, 1893
Tommy Holleran BB 1 March 6, 1892
Buck Miles FB 1 195 December 10, 1888
Frank Moran C, T 1 6'4" 285 March 18, 1887
Al Pierotti C, G, T, B 1 5'10" 204 October 24, 1895
Bill Preston T 1
Fred Sweetland WB, FB 4 5'10" 175
Elgie Tobin G, BB 1 5'9" 180 May 7, 1886

ScheduleEdit

Regular seasonEdit

The Pros remained undefeated through eleven regular-season games. They scored a total of 151 points and allowed just 7; this was the best defensive record and the sixth-best offensive record in 1920. The team was 5-0 (3-0 among other APFA teams) at home and 3-0-3 on the road.[3] Games in italics represent non-league games.

Week Date Opponent Game Site Final Score Record
2 October 3, 1920 Wheeling Stogies League Park W 43-0 1-0
3 October 10, 1920 Columbus Panhandles League Park W 37-0 2-0
4 October 17, 1920 Cincinnati Celts[4] League Park W 13-0 3-0
5 October 24, 1920 Cleveland Tigers Cubs Park W 7-0 4-0
6 October 31, 1920 Canton Bulldogs Lakeside Park W 10-0 5-0
8 November 14, 1920 Cleveland Tigers Dunn Field T 7-7 5-0-1
9 November 21, 1920 Dayton Triangles League Park W 13-0 6-0-1
10 November 25, 1920 Canton Bulldogs League Park W 7-0 7-0-1
November 28, 1920 Dayton Triangles Triangle Park W 14-0 8-0-1
11 December 5, 1920 Buffalo All-Americans Buffalo Baseball Park T 0-0 8-0-2
12 December 12, 1920 Decatur Staleys Cub Park T 0-0 8-0-3

Week 2

Wheeling Stogies (0-0-0) at Akron Pros (0-0-0) '- Akron League Park

Al Nesser of the famous Nesser Brothers scored three Touchdowns on fumble recoveries to help lead Akron to a 43-0 victory over the Wheeling Stogies. According to Coach Tobin, Fritz Pollard was sick during the game.[5][6]

Week 3

Columbus Panhandles (0-1-0) at Akron Pros (1-0-0) - Akron League Park

Wingback Frank McCormick ran for two early touchdowns to give Akron a 14-0 lead. Bob "Nasty" Nash later recovered a fumble in the end zone (the first fumble recovery for a touchdown in a game of two league teams) and the defense added the leagues first safety to give the Akron Pros a 37-0 victory over the Columbus Panhandles.[7][8]

Week 4

Cincinnati Celts (0-0-0) at Akron Pros (2-0-0) - Akron League Park

FB Rip King and TB Fritz Pollard each scored a Touchdown in leading Akron to a 13-0 victory. The Pros' defense was so dominant that the Celts did not get a single first down all game long.[9][10]

Game summariesEdit

Week 2: vs Wheeling StogiesEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Stogies 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 8 21 7 7 43



October 3, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

The Pros made their AFPA debut against the Wheeling Stogies. Playing in front of 4,000 fans, defensive end Al Nesser of the famous Nesser Brothers scored three touchdowns (two fumble recoveries and 1 blocked field goal). Tailback Fritz Pollard also scored two rushing touchdowns to help lead Akron to a 43-0 victory over the Stogies. The Pros defense got a safety in the first quarter after the extra point was missed. Blocking back Harry Harris also contributed by adding one rushing towndown in the fourth quarter. According to Coach Tobin, Fritz Pollard was sick during the game.[11][12]

Week 3: vs Columbus PanhandlesEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Panhandles 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 7 14 14 2 37



October 10, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

Wingback Frank McCormick rushed for two touchdowns to give Akron a 14-0 lead. Defensive end Bob Nash later recovered a fumble in the end zone (the first fumble recovery for a touchdown in a game of two league teams). Blocking back Harry Harris and fullback Fred Sweetland also contributed, scoring one rushing touchdown each. Fred Sweetland was hired by coach Elgie Tobin to be a line substitute, but the coach decided to play Sweetland this game.[11] The defense added another safety in the fourth quarter to give the Akron Pros a 37-0 victory over the Columbus Panhandles.[13][14]

Week 4: vs Cincinnati CeltsEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Celts 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 7 0 0 6 13



October 17, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

In week four, the Pros played against the Cincinnati Celts. The Celts were not directly affiliated with the APFA and would not join the league until the following year. Fullback Rip King and Running back Fritz Pollard each scored a touchdown in leading Akron to a 13-0 victory.[14] The Pro's kicker for that game, Charlie Copley, made one extra point and missed the other. The Pros' defense was so dominant that the Celts did not get a single first down all game long.[11][15]

Week 5: vs Cleveland TigersEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 7 0 0 0 7



October 24, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

In week five, the Pros played against the Cleveland Tigers. Prior to this game, the Tigers were considered the best team in Ohio.[11] The only score came from a punt block by Bob Nash in the first quarter.[11] Nash apparently grabbed the ball from the Tigers' punter, Stan Cofall on the 8-yard line and ran in for the score. With an extra point from Charlie Copley, the Pros defeated the Tigers 7-0 to keep their undefeated streak alive.[15]

Week 6: at Canton BulldogsEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 3 7 0 0 10
Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0



October 31, 1920 at Lakeside Park, Canton, Ohio

With four games under their belt, the Pros were starting to gain attention around the league. In week six, the Pros played against the Canton Bulldogs. Playing under a crowd of 10,000;[11] the Pros defeated the Bulldogs 10-0.[14] In the first quarter, Charlie Copley kicked a 38-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Pike Johnson recorded a 55-yard interception which was originally tipped by Copley for a touchdown. Many Bulldogs' fans were highly upset with their team for not scoring a point[11]

Week 7: vs Detroit HeraldsEdit

November 7, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

In week seven, the Pros were suppose to play the Detroit Heralds, but the game was canceled due to rain.[11]

Week 8: at Cleveland TigersEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 0 7 0 0 7
Tigers 0 0 7 0 7



November 14, 1920 at Dunn Park, Cleveland, Ohio

In week eight, the Pros played against the Cleveland Tigers. Playing in front of 8,000 fans, the Pros allowed their first and only points of the year from a 50-yard touchdown pass from Mark Devlin to Tuffy Conn and an extra point by Al Pierotti in the third quarter. Fritz Pollard had a 20-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter and Charlie Copley made an extra point. This was the first tie of the Pros' season, and kept the Pros' championship hope alive.

Week 9: vs Dayton TrianglesEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Triangles 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 0 0 0 13 13



November 21, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

In week nine, the Pros played against the Dayton Triangles. The Triangles came into this game as one of the few teams left undefeated. The game started out with three scoreless quarters until Rip King threw a 15-yard passing touchdown in the fourth quarter to Frank McCormick. Fritz Pollard also rushed for a 17-yard touchdown and Charlie Copley made one extra point and missed another one. This brought one of only two loses the Triangles had this season.

Week 10: vs Canton BulldogsEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 7 0 0 0 7



November 25, 1920 at Akron League Park, Akron, Ohio

In their first game of week ten, the Pros played against the Canton Bulldogs for the second time this season, and were still upset from their "fluke" loss earlier in the season. A muffed punt by the Bulldogs game the Pros the ball at the 32-yard line.[11] On their next drive, the Pros' passing game gave them the lone score, a passing touchdown from Rip King to Bob Nash in the first quarter.[15] Once again, the Pros' defense was nearly unstoppable and gave the Bulldogs another shutout.

Week 10: at Dayton TrianglesEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 0 0 7 7 14
Triangles 0 0 0 0 0



November 28, 1920 at Triangle Park, Dayton, Ohio

The Pros were now recognized as the top team in the league and in their second game of week ten, the Pros played against the Dayton Triangles. This game could be classified as a "U.S. Championship",[11] but the APFA had widened its battlefield with the Buffalo All-Americans and the Decatur Staleys still with high winning percentage. Fritz Pollard returned punt for a touchdown early in the first quarter.[15] He also had one receiving touchdown in the third quarter from Rip King. The mud made hindered the playing skills of both teams,[11] and both teams could not do much offensively.

Week 11: at Buffalo All-AmericansEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 0 0 0 0 0
All-Americans 0 0 0 0 0



December 5, 1920 at Buffalo Baseball Park, Buffalo, New York

In week eleven, the Pros played against the Buffalo All-Americans. The All-Americans were tired from playing a game against the Canton Bulldogs the day before. Playing in front of 3,000 people, the game resulted in a 0-0 tie. The rain caused sloppy game play as well as a small crowd. Earlier in the season, Bob Nash of the Pros was traded to the All-Americans for $300, but Nash did not appear in this game for either team.

Week 12: at Decatur StaleysEdit

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



December 12, 1920 at Cubs Park, Chicago, Illinois

The Pros ended their season in week twelve against the Decatur Staleys. Playing in front of 12,000 fans, the largest recorded crowd of that season,[11] the game ended in a 0-0 tie. This was the second game in a row where the score ended in 0-0.[15] Prior to the game, the Staleys' coach hired Paddy Driscoll to play on his team in order to help defeat the Pros.[11] The game was good for the Pros because the tie did not hurt their winning percentage and made the Pros NFL Champions.

Post seasonEdit

Since there were no playoff system in the American Professional Football Association/National Football League until 1932, a meeting was held to determine the 1920 NFL Champions. Each team that showed up had a vote to determine the champions. The Decatur Staleys and the Buffalo All-Americans stated that they should win the award because they had more wins, and were not beaten by the Akron Pros. Since the Akron Pros had a perfect record (tie games did not account into winning percentages until 1972), the Pros were unanimously awarded the award on April 30, 1921. The trophy originally awarded was lost sometime and has yet to been recovered.

Scores by quarterEdit

1 2 3 4 Total
Opponents 0 0 7 0 7
Pros 39 49 28 35 151



StandingsEdit

APFA
W L T PCT PF PA STK
Akron Pros 8 0 3 1.000 151 7 T-2
Decatur Staleys 10 1 2 .909 164 21 T-1
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 1 .900 258 32 T-1
Chicago Cardinals 6 2 2 .750 115 43 T-1
Rock Island Independents 6 2 2 .750 201 49 W-1
Dayton Triangles 5 2 2 .714 150 54 L-1
Rochester Jeffersons 6 3 2 .667 156 57 T-1
Canton Bulldogs 7 4 2 .636 208 57 W-1
Detroit Heralds 2 3 3 .400 53 82 T-2
Cleveland Tigers 2 4 2 .333 28 46 L-1
Hammond Pros 2 5 0 .286 41 154 L-3
Chicago Tigers 2 5 1 .286 49 63 W-1
Columbus Panhandles 2 6 2 .250 41 121 W-1
Muncie Flyers 0 1 0 .000 0 45 L-1

See alsoEdit

References and notesEdit

Akron Buffalo Canton Chicago Cardinals
Chicago Tigers Cleveland Columbus Dayton
Decatur Detroit Hammond Muncie
Rochester Rock Island
Preceded by
none
NFL Champion
1920
Succeeded by
Chicago Staleys
1921

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