F & AC
In 1926 the National Football League faced the competition of
the upstart American Football League. No, not that AFL. The
league that brought us Broadway Joe, the Oakland Raiders and ultimately
the Super Bowl was actually the fourth incarnation of the American
Football League. The '26 version was the first! And while the AFL of
for only a single season, it managed to attract some of the nation's finest
players. One of the premier teams of the short lived league was the Quakers,
a squad that would bring Philadelphia its first nationally recognized pro football
championship by capturing the league's title...
Philadelphia Quakers: 1926 American Football League Champions
In July of 1926 the formation of the American Football League was announced. This new league hoped to challenge the National Football League's dominance of the pro game by both featuring the most widely known player of the time, Harold "Red" Grange, as the league's premier attraction, and by luring other well known NFL players. Leo Conway, reconstituting his Philadelphia Quakers, was awarded the Philadelphia franchise. While the new league ultimately proved to be a financial disaster, collapsing at the end of its inaugural season, the Quakers met with measurable success. Signing such players as Penn standout Al Kreuz, along with Century Milstead of the New York Giants and Bull Behman of the Frankford Yellow Jackets, the Quakers fielded a strong team featuring perhaps the finest line in the league.
REASONS WHY QUAKERS ARE CONFIDENT OF STOPPING RED GRANGE
As the season entered the home-stretch New York (8-3-0) was just behind Philadelphia (6-2-0) in the standings. One of Philadelphia's losses was a 23-0 trouncing by New York at the close of October, so the race for the league title came down to two late November games between the high-scoring Yankees and the defensively strong Quakers. In a move to strengthen their championship run, Philadelphia acquired former Lafayette star Doc Elliott from the Cleveland Panthers, setting the stage for a Thanksgiving Day show-down. The Quakers and Yankees met at Yankee Stadium in front of 22,000 fans. Yankee's star Harold "Red" Grange injured his hip, but New York had built a 10-6 lead. Then the Quaker's Pie Way, the smallest but fastest man on the field, caught a forty yard touchdown pass from Johnny Scott, and Philadelphia had the victory.
Two days later the teams had a rematch at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Again the attendance was reportedly over 20,000. The still injured Grange was unable to play for New York, and Al Kreuz was knocked out early for Philadelphia. Bob Dinsmore filled in for Kreuz and kicked a pair of field goals, Scott threw another touchdown pass and Philadelphia clinched the league title with a 13-6 victory over the Yankees!
The next day team president Leo Conway issued challenges to both the Frankford Yellow Jackets, to play for the Philadelphia professional championship, and to the winner of the NFL title, to play for the overall professional championship. Frankford, as it turns out, eventually won the NFL crown. At the time of the Quakers' challenge, however, the Yellow Jackets were in the midst of a neck-to-neck title race with the Chicago Bears. Despite much anticipation among the public, players and press they couldn't, or wouldn’t, oblige. The Quakers settled instead for a game against the New York Giants. While the Giants may not have been the best club in the NFL, finishing their season ranked seventh in the league, they were certainly game enough to defend their league's honor against the upstart Quakers, handily defeating the AFL champs 31 to 0.
The Philadelphia Quakers 1926 line-up featured a number of very fine players, including both established NFL veterans and collegiate stars. Several players on that season's roster earned All-Pro honors:
Click here to view a complete roster of the Philadelphia Quakers 1926 AFL championship squad.
By the Numbers
Below is a table displaying
the final standings for the 1926 American Football League. Click
here to view a breakdown of the Quakers 1926 season game schedule and
results, including non-league games and links to some newspaper articles reporting specific
American Football League 1926 Final Standings
Links to Additional Information
of the Gridiron's Virtual Scrapbook Vol. 6: Philadelphia Quakers
© John J. Fenton, 2012-2000, all rights reserved.