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|
|Playoff Finish||NFL Champions|
|Previous season||Next season|
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 Roster
- 2 Schedule
- 3 Game summaries
- 3.1 Week 2: vs Wheeling Stogies
- 3.2 Week 3: vs Columbus Panhandles
- 3.3 Week 4: vs Cincinnati Celts
- 3.4 Week 5: vs Cleveland Tigers
- 3.5 Week 6: at Canton Bulldogs
- 3.6 Week 7: vs Detroit Heralds
- 3.7 Week 8: at Cleveland Tigers
- 3.8 Week 9: vs Dayton Triangles
- 3.9 Week 10: vs Canton Bulldogs
- 3.10 Week 10: at Dayton Triangles
- 3.11 Week 11: at Buffalo All-Americans
- 3.12 Week 12: at Decatur Staleys
- 4 Post season
- 5 Scores by quarter
- 6 Standings
- 7 See also
- 8 References and notes
|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|
|Russ Bailey||C||11||5'11"||183||October 17, 1897|
|Alf Cobb||RG||11||5'11"||210||June 7, 1892|
|Scotty Bierce||RE||10||5'9"||164||September 3, 1896|
|Al Nesser||RE||11||6'0"||195||June 6, 1893|
|Russ Bailey||K, P, PR, KR||11||5'11"||183||October 17, 1897|
|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|
|Fred Sweetland||WB, FB||4||5'10"||175|
|Elgie Tobin||G, BB||1||5'9"||180||May 7, 1886|
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. 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||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||Cubs Park||T 0-0||8-0-3|
|-||January 15, 1921||Tuffy Conn All-Stars||Tournament of Roses Park||W 13-7|
|January 23, 1921||Tuffy Conn All-Stars||Vernon Ball Park||W 21-7|
|January 29, 1921||San Joaquin Valley Amercian Legion All-Stars||Tournament of Roses Park||W 69-0|
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.
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.
Cincinnati Celts (0-0-0) at Akron Pros (2-0-0) - Akron League Park
Week 2: vs Wheeling Stogies
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.
Week 3: vs Columbus Panhandles
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. The defense added another safety in the fourth quarter to give the Akron Pros a 37-0 victory over the Columbus Panhandles.
Week 4: vs Cincinnati Celts
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. 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.
Week 5: vs Cleveland Tigers
In week five, the Pros played against the Cleveland Tigers. Prior to this game, the Tigers were considered the best team in Ohio. The only score came from a punt block by Bob Nash in the first quarter. 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.
Week 6: at Canton Bulldogs
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; the Pros defeated the Bulldogs 10-0. 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
Week 7: vs Detroit Heralds
Week 8: at Cleveland Tigers
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 Triangles
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 Bulldogs
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. 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. Once again, the Pros' defense was nearly unstoppable and gave the Bulldogs another shutout.
Week 10: at Dayton Triangles
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", 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. He also had one receiving touchdown in the third quarter from Rip King. The mud made hindered the playing skills of both teams, and both teams could not do much offensively.
Week 11: at Buffalo All-Americans
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 Staleys
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, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. This was the second game in a row where the score ended in 0-0. Prior to the game, the Staleys' coach hired Paddy Driscoll to play on his team in order to help defeat the Pros. The game was good for the Pros because the tie did not hurt their winning percentage and made the Pros NFL Champions.
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 quarter
|Rock Island Independents||6||2||2||.750||201||49||W-1|
References and notes
- Akron Pros - Ohio History Central - A product of the Ohio Historical Society
- 1920 Akron Pros Starters, Roster, & Players - Pro-Football-Reference.com
- The Celts would join the APFA in 1921.
- Carroll, Bob (1982). "Akron Pros 1920". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 4 (12). http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/04-12-119.pdf. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- Willis, Chris (February 2007). The Columbus Panhandles. Scarewcrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-58 93-2.
- Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob (1981). "The First NFL Game(s)". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 3 (2). http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/03-02-059.pdf. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
- "1920: The Year in Football". The-Kramer Family. http://www.the-kramerfamily.com/1920PACKERS-YEAR.html. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
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