American Football Database
Milwaukee Badgers
Milwaukee Badgers logo

Founded 1922
Folded 1926
Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Home field Athletic Park
League National Football League
Team History Milwaukee Badgers (1922-26)
Team Colors Orange, White


Head coaches Budge Garrett (1922)
Jimmy Conzelman (1922-23)
Hal Erickson (1924)
Johnny Bryan (1925-26)

The Milwaukee Badgers were a professional American football team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that played in the National Football League from 1922 to 1926. The team played its home games at Athletic Park, later known as Borchert Field, on Milwaukee's north side. The team was notable for having a large number of African-American players for the time.[1]

After the team folded following the 1926 season (largely due to being left broke because of a $500 fine by the NFL for using four high-school players in a 1925 game against the Chicago Cardinals, a game arranged after the Badgers had disbanded for the season)[1], many of its members played for the independent semi-pro Milwaukee Eagles. A few of the players from this team went on to play for the original Pittsburgh Pirates football team in 1933; the team later became the Steelers. This has led some to mistakenly believe that either the Badgers or Eagles became the Steelers.

1925 High School players scandal

In 1925 the Chicago Cardinals were in need of two easy wins to help keep up with the Pottsville Maroons and stay in the hunt of the 1925 NFL Championship. As a result, the Cardinals had planned two extra games were scheduled against the Badgers and Hammond Pros, who were both losing teams in that season. The Pros and the Badgers were both of NFL members but had disbanded for the year. The Badgers, owned by Ambrose McGuirk, agreed to a game against the Cardinals. However, McGuirk lived in Chicago, and had a tough time putting a team together to play the Cardinals. So Art Folz, a substitute quarterback for the Cardinals, convinced four players from Chicago's Englewood High School into joining the Badgers for the game under assumed names, thereby ensuring that the Cardinals' opponent was not a pro caliber club. The high schoolers were reported to be W. Thompson, Jack Daniels, Charlie Richardson and J. Snyder.

However NFL President Joseph Carr later learned that high school players had been used in an NFL game. He then stated that the 59-0 Cardinals win would be stricken from the record. However, the league had never got around to removing it. The game is still apart of the NFL records. Cardinals' owner Chris O'Brien was also fined $1,000 by Carr for allowing his team play the game. Meanwhile McGuirk was ordered to sell his Milwaukee franchise within 90 days. Folz, for his role, was barred from football for life. However by 1926, Carr toned down his punishment for each party involved in the scandal. Folz's lifetime ban was lifted, probably to prevent him from going the first American Football League, however he chose not to return to pro football. The $1,000 fine against O'Brien was rescinded, probably since the amount would have put the Cardinals out of business. McGuirk though had already sold his Badgers franchise to Johnny Bryan, a fullback with the Chicago Bears. The Englewood players were also forgiven, and two of them, William Thompson and Charles Richardson, earned high school all-star recognition at the end of the season. Folz reportedly told the high schoolers that the game was a "practice game" and would in no part affect their amateur status.

This game would also be used to state that the Pottsville Maroons should have won the 1925 NFL Championship.

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Jimmy Conzelman, Class of 1964
Johnny "Blood" McNally, Class of 1963 (inaugural member)
Fritz Pollard, Class of 2005

Other Players

Frank Morrissey
Paul Robeson


Year League W L T Finish Coach
1922 NFL 2 4 3 11th Jimmy Conzelman, Budge Garrett
1923 NFL 7 2 3 3rd Jimmy Conzelman
1924 NFL 5 8 0 12th Hal Erickson
1925 NFL 0 6 0 16th Johnny Bryan
1926 NFL 2 7 0 15th Johnny Bryan


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cliff Christl for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (1999-10-23). "Packers' survival in NFL a fluke of circumstance". Retrieved 2008-03-17.