The origins and early history of professional football
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The Origins and Early History of Professional Football. 1892-1958. I. The Origins of Professional Football. First Professional Player --William “Pudge” Heffelfinger (1892) First contract signed (1893) First professional Black player (1904) Jim Thorpe goes pro (1913)

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I. The Origins of Professional Football

  • First Professional Player

    --William “Pudge” Heffelfinger (1892)

  • First contract signed (1893)

  • First professional Black player (1904)

  • Jim Thorpe goes pro (1913)

  • Green Bay Packers are born (1919)


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II. Origins of the National Football League

  • Creation of the American Professional Football Conference (1920)

  • Member teams

  • Creation of the National Football League (1922)

  • Member teams

  • Marion Oorang Indians

  • The Significance of Red Grange to Professional Football


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III. The Growth of the NFL

  • Statistics and Rules During the 1930’s

  • Growing stability

  • NFL hits the TV screen

  • First NFL commissioner (1941)

    --Elmer Layden

  • Sammy Baugh

  • 2 1000-yard rushers in the same season (1949)


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IV. Exclusion of Blacks from Professional Football, 1934-1946

  • A few Blacks played during the 1920’s and 1930’s

    --Robert “Rube” Marshall, Paul Robeson, Fritz Pollard, Joe Lillard

  • Denial of a racial ban by the owners

    --Art Rooney, George Halas, Tex Schramm


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IV. Exclusion of Black Players (cont.) 1934-1946

  • Racial Climate of the 1930’s

  • Organization of Black professional football teams

  • Reasons for absence of Black players from the NFL

  • Significance of WWII toward sports integration


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IV. Exclusion of Black Players (cont.) 1934-1946

  • New Leagues in 1944

    --USFL

    --AAFC

  • The leverage of the Los Angeles Coliseum

  • Los Angeles Rams sign Kenny Washington (1946)


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IV. Exclusion of Black Players (cont.) 1934-1946

  • Paul Brown’s desire to integrate the NFL

  • Paul Brown’s background

  • Paul Brown’s innovations as a coach

  • The Black press and the desegregation of the NFL

  • Cleveland Browns set the example followed by other professional teams


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V. The Golden Years of the NFL 1934-1946

  • TV grows and Thorpe goes in early 1950’s

  • 1957 NFL Draft class

  • Jim Brown’s rushing record in 1958

  • 1958 NFL Championship Game

    --Baltimore Colts defeat New York Giants, 23-17


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V. The Golden Years (cont.) 1934-1946

  • Vince Lombardi hired as Green Bay Packers Head Coach (1959)

    -- “Seven Blocks of Granite”

  • Lombardi’s Coaching Style

  • Establishment of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio (1961)