Arthur F. Ranney was a co-founder of the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League in 1922), as an owner of the Akron Pros, one of the league's charter teams. The Pros were renamed the Akron Indians in 1926.
Purchasing the Indians
In 1920, Ranney was a local businessman in Akron, Ohio as well as an ex-football player for the University of Akron. After experiencing finanicial losses from 1912-1919, the Akron Indians, of the "Ohio League", was sold to Ranney and Frank Nied, a local cigar store owner. The 1919 Indians finished the season 5-5-0 and suffered financial losses, despite the presence of one of the country's best breakaway runners, Fritz Pollard. As the team's new owners, Ranney and Neid dropped the Indian moniker and adopted a new name, the "Akron Pros," hoping to inspire better results, or at least better attendance.
Founding of the NFL
Ranney and Neid attended the August 20, 1920 and September 17, 1920 meetings, at Ralph Hay's Hupmobile dealership, which established the NFL. The original copy of the minutes for the September 17, 1920 league meeting were recorded on a piece of Akron Pros stationary by Ranney. He was then elected secretary and treasurer of the league.
The Pros won the very first APFA/NFL championship. In April 1921, the league voted to award the title and the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup to Akron on the basis of having an undefeated record and allowing only 7 points 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 six games that ended in a 1–3–2 record. Due to financial issues, Neid and Ranney 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 and Ranney also made Pollard the first African-American coach in the NFL.
- Carroll, Bob (1982). "Akron Pros 1920". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 4 (12): 1–4. http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/04-12-119.pdf.
- "Once More, With Feeling". AFPA Research (Professional Football Researchers Association) 4: 1–8. http://home.comcast.net/~ghostsofthegridiron/articles/Once_More_With_Feeling.pdf.
- "Happy Birthday NFL?". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (8): 1–4. 1980. http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/02-08-038.pdf.
- "Twilight 1919". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association): 1–10. http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Articles/Twilight.pdf.
- Ross, Charles (1997). Race and Sport. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-57806-897-5. http://books.google.com/?id=rCnbhSRZpgIC.
- Carroll, John M. (1992). Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06799-1. http://books.google.com/?id=rUQaS0pHIocC&dq=Frank+Nied+Akron+Pros.
- New York Times News Service (1978). Pollard Doesn't Look Like a Legend. The Virgin Islands Daily News. pp. 15. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=757&dat=19780222&id=HZYUAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0a0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=4464,2534677.
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