Pro Football League 1917


Pro Football League 1917Pro Football League 1917
Detroit WolverinesPittsburgh
New York
Pro Football League 1917 [References: 1-2]


An attempt at a Pro Football League (American Football) was made in 1917 by a Detroit representative (unnamed but possibly the Wolverines) that approached the owners of Major League Baseball teams such as Charles Comiskey (Chicago) and Frank Nevin.

Comiskey was interested in the idea, if it could be shown there was money in the College Game. At the time Baseball was still America’s Favorite Sport, with two Pro Leagues (National League and American League) and Football was still only big the Colleges.

The teams, based in Baseball Cities, and owned by Baseball Team Owners, would play in Major League Baseball Parks such as the Polo Grounds in New York, Navin Field, Forbes Field and Comiskey Park in Chicago, at the end of the Baseball season in October when the Stadiums were empty.

The League never happened in the end, the Philadelphia Inquirer called it unworkable, perhaps remembering the previous attempt in 1902, and the brief World Series of Football in 1902-1903. The Los Angeles Times also discussed the possibilty, although they were the only newspapers to do more than just reprint the original wire.

The League failed to get off the ground because of a number of factors: World War I, the cold weather in November and December putting fans off, and College Football still being by far the more popular version of the game than Pro Football.

In 1920, however, Pro Football would arrive in the form of the American Professional Football association, which in 1922 changed its name to the National Football League and by 1933 had become established as a Major League to rival the National League and American League in Baseball.


[1] Wagner, Bill (1992) “A missed Opportunity: The 1917 Pro Football League”. The Coffin Corner (1992) Professional Football Researchers Association.14 (1)   [Accessed 15 September 2020]


Thanks to Rose McCabe, Ann Hanley, Gabriel McCloyne, Peter Lemass, Ciaran Simms, Gerry Tully.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 15 September 2020

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020

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