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Philadelphia Quakers
American Football League Champions, 1926

 

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 1926 existed 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.

The Philadelphia Record, October 24, 1926

NINE REASONS WHY QUAKERS ARE CONFIDENT OF STOPPING RED GRANGE
Behman, Dinsmore, Robinson, Scott (captain), Milstead, Coleman, Kruez, Ford
Folwell (coach)


Al Kreuz kicking a field goal
against Rock Island.

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!


Elliott passes to Ford for a touchdown against the New York Yankees in the AFL season finale at Shibe Park.


1926 sports page cartoon from
The Philadelphia Record.

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.

Outstanding Players

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:

Year

Player

Pos

Honors

Selector

1926

Bull Behman

T

2nd Team

Wilfred Smith1

1926

Al Kruez

B

2nd Team

Wilfred Smith

1926

Century Milstead

T

3rd Team

Collyer's Eye Magazine2

1926

George Tully

E

2nd Team

Wilfred Smith

1 Wilfred Smith was a former professional football player and well respected sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune.

2 Collyer's Eye Magazine was a prominent Chicago sports publication.

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 games.

American Football League 1926 Final Standings

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Philadelphia Quakers

8

2

0

.800

93

52

New York Yankees

10

5

0

.667

212

82

Cleveland Panthers

3

2

0

.600

62

46

Wilson's Wildcats

6

6

2

.500

105

83

Chicago Bulls

5

6

3

.455

88

69

Boston Bulldogs

2

4

0

.333

20

81

Rock Island Independents

2

6

1

.286

21

126

Brooklyn Horsemen

1

3

0

.250

25

68

Newark Bears/Demons

0

3

2

.000

7

26

Links to Additional Information

Ghosts of the Gridiron's Virtual Scrapbook Vol. 6: Philadelphia Quakers
An extensive collection of digitized newspaper clippings from the Philadelphia Quakers' 1926 American Football League championship season.

The Grange League
An article by the PFRA research staff chronicling the American Football League of 1926.  Originally published in The Coffin Corner
, Vol. 19, No. 1.


© John J. Fenton, 2012-2000, all rights reserved.