American Football Database

The 1937 American Football League season is the second season of the second edition of the AFL. After the folding of the Syracuse/Rochester Braves in the 1936 season[1] and the departure of the Cleveland Rams for the National Football League,[2] the league added the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Bulldogs, the latter being the first professional football team to play its home games on the American West Coast.[2]

The season got off to a rocky start, with the Pittsburgh Americans folding after playing only three games. After a 1936 move from Brooklyn,[1] the Rochester Tigers limped through with a paucity of fan support. The defending champion Boston Shamrocks and 1936 contender New York Yankees were hit hard by the raiding of their rosters by the NFL, a counterpoint to the latter's method of building its squad; as a result, both wound up with losing records (Boston's 2-5-0 and New York's 2-3-1). Cincinnati's Bengals almost matched the Yankees in their futility, finishing with a 2-3-2 record.[3]

Only two teams in the AFL finished with a .500 or better record in 1937: the Rochester Tigers and the team that was rejected when the NFL admitted the Rams, the Los Angeles Bulldogs[4] The West Coast newcomers dominated the league, finishing 8-0-0, the first perfect season (no wins, no losses) by a professional football team while winning its league championship (the 1948 Cleveland Browns and the 1972 Miami Dolphins would later match the feat).

The Bulldogs had an average 14,000 attendance for its 1937 home games, comparable to the draws of the Rams, Shamrocks, and Yankees the previous year, but Cleveland's absence and decline of the other two 1936 contenders (both on the field and in the stands) proved devastating to the AFL. Of the six AFL teams, only Los Angeles made a profit.[2] With the league owners having lost their optimism, the second American Football League came to an end. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Bulldogs continued their existence as independent teams while the other AFL franchises ceased to exist.[3]

Final standings

Team W L T Pct. PF PA Coach
Los Angeles Bulldogs 8 0 0 1.000 219 69 Gus Henderson
Rochester Tigers 3 3 1 .500 94 115 Mike Palm
New York Yankees 2 3 1 .400 57 115 Jack McBride
Cincinnati Bengals 2 3 2 .400 102 89 Hal Pennington[5]
Boston Shamrocks 2 5 0 .286 76 98 George Kenneally
Pittsburgh Americans 0 3 0 .000 7 69

All-League selections

Bill Moore, Los Angeles (end)
Bill Steinkinber, Cincinnati (tackle)
Pete Meloringer, Los Angeles (guard)
Lee Mullenuaux, Cincinnati (center)
Alex Drobnitch, New York (guard)
Harry Fields, Los Angeles (tackle)
Red Fleming, Boston (end)
Harry Newman, Los Angeles (quarterback)
Don Geyer, Cincinnati (halfback)
Al Nidelazri, Los Angeles (halfback)
Gordon Gore, Los Angeles (fullback)


  1. 1.0 1.1 History of Football in Western New York
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 George Gipe, The Great American Sport Book (Doubleday 1978) ISBN 0-385-13091-0
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn, Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (HarperCollins 1999) ISBN 0-060-39232-0
  4. Pay Dirt: The Business of Professional Team Sports
  5. Biography of Hal Pennington- Xavier University Hall of Fame

See also