|Professional football from its meager beginnings of the late 1890's to the next century consistently was an after thought of not just the sports writers, but also of the fans. In the world of Pigskinism, college football was king until well after the Second World War. It did begin to truly take hold in the 1920's, but it still struggled for survival well into the 1950's. By the 1960's, for the most part, gone were the quaint backyard stadiums, that dotted the landscape of the country, replaced by the mammoth coliseums that were built by
the owners, and later also by their home based cities, some without a team with the hope of luring one to its
new facility. Owners in the beginning were more often than not a single ownership, with a few partnerships, later replaced by corporations and/or syndications.
It had become big business by the time of the 1960's. It had survived, despite itself. Unlike modern baseball, which had only for two seasons, three major leagues since the late 1890's and two the rest of the years through today; football has had many challengers to a given number one, and its lack of "live and let
live," philosophy and support of free enterprise system constantly threatened its mere existence.
The American Professional Football Association of 1919 changed to become the National Football League, the largest of leagues in the 1920's. Yet, when it was approached to have more than one team in New York,
the Mara family, which owned the Giants stood in the way, and another league, the first modern American
Football League came about for that reason of exclusion. The National League tried to smother the new league out of existence, expanded its own membership and nearly killed itself in the process. As the season unfurled for both leagues, bad weather, poor attendance, and bad management forced the demise of many teams from both football camps. After one season, with many teams out for the count, a second New York team from the now defunct AFL was admitted when the dust finally settled on the 1926 campaigns. Some skepticism still exists today as to the high attendance figures for many of the AFL games. Only a trained eye can review the many microfilm photos of AFL games, and see the throngs of people that indeed did flock to the games were not exaggerated.
One would think, that after the demise of the 1926 AFL, that the sport at that time would be too costly to
expand itself to other new leagues. Yet, it would happen over and over again. In the 1930's, during the
tragic world-wide depression, a new American Football League came about in 1936. It also drew well at the gate competitively as had its predecessor of 1926. In fact, the success of the Boston Shamrocks, champions of the AFL of 1936, were the main reason for the Boston Redskins of the NFL having left town for Washington the next season despite winning its first Eastern Division title, and nearly winning the NFL's World Championship. What few people are not aware of today, the owner/owners of the 'Skins would up the admission to games without prior game notice for the tougher and more attractive home games. Fans of Boston, never to accept such treatment, began to stay away from the Redskin games, and go instead to the Shamrocks. It would be a reason for the NFL to avoid Boston for many years in retaliation. The AFL invited the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast to replace the Cleveland Rams, who were enticed into the NFL for 1937. The Bulldogs had and would continue to beat NFL teams on a regular basis, and were easy champions of the AFL for '37. The AFL had teams coming and going by 1938 so quickly, that a formed Mid West league took over its title for that season, and reverted more to its 37 field of teams by 1939. At this time in the east, two outstanding minor leagues had been playing close to the level of the majors; the American Football Association and the Dixie Leagues, but, the best one of the day, was the Pacific Coast Football League, that could have been easily considered major league from the 1930's through to the end of the second world war. The slight success of the AFL from 1936-1941 proved that, though profits were not rolling in for any "major league" ballclub, that there was room for more. This was totally unacceptable to the NFL "fraternity!"
After the second world war, representatives from San Francisco, Cleveland ( had lost its Rams to L.A. by now ), and other cities came to the NFL and requested teams for their cities. Just as it had refused new members in 1926, and had betrayed the Los Angeles Bulldogs ( who never were quite "admitted" officially to the NFL ) in the 1930's; the new groups were turned down flat. Just as in previous years, a new league
would be formed, the All-America Football Conference. It had teams in Buffalo, a city also that "never"
quite measured up to NFL "standards", Cleveland, San Francisco, a new team in Los Angeles, Chicago,
New York ( which had been the former Brooklyn franchise of the NFL regrouped after World War II ), a
new Brooklyn team owned by the baseball Dodgers, and for the first time for the entire southeast, Miami.
The AAFC outdrew consistently the NFL, but, by 1948, both leagues were hurting for money, as the cost
at this time of competing against each other had been even more of a burden. Even though the NFL needed
the war to be over, even more so, than the AAFC, some owners refused to listen to their own Commissioner Bert Bell, and would rather serve up its fraternal brothers, than to agree to an end to hostilities, a few NFL stalwarts, and refused to negotiate or allow a merger.
When it finally came after 1949, many AAFC cities/teams were left out in the cold, and while others had sold out for NFL membership. There is no other way to put it. Buffalo was denied membership, despite for four years of having some of the largest crowds in either league. The Yankees were given an ultimatum to
absorb the former Boston Yanks then the New York Bulldogs and its enormous debts. The Yanks ( as they
were now referred to ), would be cheated out of wins and games in 1951 games and were not merely officiated poorly, they were thrown toward the opposition; this was admitted to years later by retired game officials of that time, and would give up the franchise to see it to be purchased to become the Dallas Texans in 1952. The Baltimore Colts came in to the NFL a very weak team from 1949, it was not much better in 1950, and went out after that season. Dallas was a flop and it became the new Baltimore Colts in 1953.
The status quo of the majors remained the same through 1959. Yet, during that campaign, old cities with new prospective owners approached the NFL for membership. It should not have come as a surprise then or now that they were turned down "flat!" So, once again, a new league was formed, it had teams in Los Angeles, Boston, Buffalo, New York, Houston, Dallas, Denver, and one for the Twin Cities in Minnesota. The NFL to counter it, as it had done in the past, had a new team for Dallas ( though it had refused one earlier for Lamar Hunt, and put a new team in the same area as the proposed Minnesota franchise for the AFL. The Minnesota franchise to avoid another head-to-head challenge, moved its location to Oakland, California. Television was now around to bankroll the teams, and facilitate easier to survive the financial losses of the early years. The NFL was with CBS, and the new AFL was now with ABC. The early years of the AFL could scarcely be truly considered to be major league. The talent was often "has been", and "neverbees," at least in the mind of NFL scouts of that era. Some of the best players of the early years left the new league and played in the top minor leagues with the thought of getting into the NFL later. In reality, many players were blackballed from both the NFL and AFL for various reasons. By 1963, it was more than apparent to the NFL and AFL that the AFL was going to be around for a very long time. It was now the league with what had been deplorable home field locations, to for the most part, the best stadiums for pro football. New Stadiums were now in New York, Oakland, San Diego, and on the drawing board, new ones for Cincinnati, Miami, Buffalo, and Kansas City. New and extended renovations in Denver were constantly underway. Boston would eventually get its new park nearby. Despite ABC not renewing its contract after the 1964 season, NBC jumped right in, and with more money. It ws a mistake ABC would regret to this day. The NFL was now being seen and viewed as an "old league," a more boring type of football, all their plays seemed the same, and their stadiums were now viewed as "older than dirt!" Despite
an ever expanding market, the AFL was consistently getting better draft picks, better places to play, more applications for new franchises, and a bigger and bigger and bigger piece of the market-pie!
It was the realization that if the teams of the 1960 AFL had survived through 1963, that there would be room for more leagues and teams. More cities could entertain and support the road to having a major professional football league. After all, television was still without a league on one of the big three stations, UHF and subscription television was beginning, there would be room for more.
Owners from the top two minor leagues, the United Football League ( perhaps the greatest minor league of all time ) and the Atlantic Coast Football League ( perhaps the second best minor league of all time ) had the vision to becoming a new major league. The meeting took place in New York City in early 1965. The five best teams of the former UFL and the five best of the ACFL joined to make the new Continental Professional Football League, and declared itself the third league of major professional football.
This is the website that will tell the story and stories of the league, its players, its history as it has never been told before. Years ago, when it was thought to be condensed into book form, a young author was threatened to not complete the project. Now with the advent of the Internet, this story can not be prevented.
It will reveal many things not openly known during its short five-year history. Hundreds of major league players that were not allowed to be part of the "establishment" will at long last receive their just recognition.
Certain questions will be answered as to "why did the league not have a contract with ABC;" why did it have to go to court to even have a certain nickname for one of its teams; and why did another team have to go to court just to be able to sign its players?
The events of those five years still are remembered by millions of fans that followed those many teams, the first major professional football league that had international status for four out of five years. It had teams in the United States, Canada, and in 1969 Mexico.
This website is going to also offer avenues for former players, coaches, and fans to communicate with each other. It will be ongoing, and continually evolving. Research will be of a continuous effort, as more information will be uncovered, received, and added to the site, as well as, corrections will be made where items found in error.
Interviews of former players, coaches, fans, and game officials will be added in addition to articles that will
sometimes be shocking, often informative, and very often fun.
Every month there will be additions to the website in the form of articles, or interviews, and will have a specific team's individual photos uncovered of players and coaches.
We expect in a year to begin a Who's Who section that will include everyone that can be uncovered who had a connection to the teams and the league in some form. We will also list players by their collegiate affiliations, their junior-community college affiliations, and hope to be able to include a complete service team affiliation section.
A section for posting comments will be censored and posted. We reserve this right for the benefit of the old and new fans. It is our hope that those who were any part of the league will come forward and feel free to entertain questions and dialogue to those they played along side or on the other side of the ball. We also invite those that were involved in concessions, their suppliers, sporting good establishments that supplied not only equipment, but in addition souvenirs, publications, media representatives, groundskeepers, security, ushers, photographers, government officials, and survivors of the above. In particular we hope to make contact with the game officials. This group of a most needed participants of the game have so often been over looked and unrecognized, and had a very exclusive perspective of the game, and their knowledge and expertise was evident as perhaps the finest of any who proudly conducted the play of the game. Those who had been fortunate to see the games first hand can attest to their excellence beyond reproach.
All items that might be donated or offered to the site to be scan copied-photographed and entered into the website. We appreciated pre-website offers, and reaffirm to add the images only, not to expand anyone's personal collection of the staff.
We expect to be able to obtain old game films and enter them onto this website.
This site will have thousands of images to review for the subscriber, among them will be photos of teams,
commissioners, cheerleaders, Miss CFL, stadiums, stadium seating charts, season ticket applications, decals, bumper stickers, tickets, ticket stubs, buttons, bands, majorettes, mascots, pennants, team logos, pocket schedules, league logos, front sheet covers of game programs ( to include pre-season, exhibition, regular season, and championships ), front sheet covers of media guides ( to include league, teams, and games ), and other items not mentioned and to be added later. Just a reminder here, that individual coaches and players will be added by team each month.
The only regret we have for the delay in this site becoming a reality, is for those involved in the years of the 1965-1969 Continental Football League, not being here to receive their just recognition.
From time to time, we will also suggest publications of the game for reading. We may not agree with the content, but will endorse the quality of the subject and its author/authors. We will ask permission of the
representatives of these fine works for their endorsements to freely suggest such readings.
The many communities that were the home base for the many member teams, were at times overlooked and never appreciated beyond the sports communities for various reasons. We will allow certain artistic and scholastic contributions in this realm to allow a further insight to those that fostered the game.
This site is formally dedicated to those that had the vision to embark on an adventure that was the Continental Football League, the third league of major professional American football of the 1960's. It is our hope that the long overdue recognition of their efforts, courage, sacrifices, and fortitude will be recognized and remain a permanent part of the history of the game.
We will in the near future offer one of our sections, the ability for subscribers only to have a forum to auction and make purchases directly from the auctioneer, without any fees directed toward the website.
President of the Booster Club of The Continental Football League, Incorporated