Tuesday, August 22, 2023

"A Flash in the Gridiron: The Short-Lived Legacy of the Chicago Tigers"


In the world of sports, every team has its glory days, its defining moments that make them legends. And then there are teams like the Chicago Tigers of the American Professional Football Association (APFA), who faded into obscurity just as quickly as they had emerged. The Chicago Tigers played their first and only season in 1920, the same year the APFA was formed. And they hold the unfortunate distinction of being the first NFL team to fold.

The APFA, which later became the National Football League (NFL), was in its infancy in 1920, with several teams joining the league in hopes of making a name for themselves in the world of professional football. One of those teams was the Chicago Tigers, led by Guil Falcon, a prominent football player and coach of his time. The team consisted of former college players and seasoned football veterans.

The Chicago Tigers played their home games at Wrigley Field, a stadium that would later become synonymous with the Chicago Cubs. Back in 1920, Wrigley Field was a hub for multiple sports, and the Tigers found a home amidst the roaring crowds and the lush green of the baseball field converted for football.

Their season began with a mix of excitement and trepidation. The Tigers kicked off with a promising win against the Rock Island Independents, marking the beginning of a promising season. However, the tide quickly turned. The Tigers found themselves on a losing streak, as they needed help to keep up with more robust, more experienced teams like the Decatur Staleys and the Akron Pros.

The Tigers secured another victory, this time against the Columbus Panhandles. But it was a short-lived high. They ended their season with 2 wins, 5 losses, and 1 tie. It was a disappointing performance, and the financial strain of running a professional football team began to weigh heavily on the team's management.

In a final, desperate bid to stay afloat, the Tigers played a game against the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) in what would become known as the "loser-leaves-town" match. The terms of the game were clear: the losing team would fold and leave the city. The Cardinals won the game, and the Tigers, true to their word, folded, ending their brief foray into professional football.

While the Chicago Tigers may not be remembered as one of the greats, their short-lived time in the APFA reflected the turbulent early days of professional football. They may have been the first NFL team to fold, but they were a part of the pioneering spirit that would eventually give rise to the world's premier football league. Today, as we celebrate the achievements of NFL teams, let us not forget the teams like the Chicago Tigers, who played a small but significant part in shaping the history of this beloved sport.



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