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The Info List - Rock Island Independents





Green and white          

Head coaches Rube Ursella (1920, 1925) Frank Coughlin (1921) Jimmy Conzelman (1921–22) Herb Sies (1923) Johnny Armstrong (1924, 1926)

General managers Walter Flanigan (1920–23) Vince McCarthy (1924–26)

Owner(s) Walter Flanigan (1920–23) Dale Johnson (1923–26)

Other League Championship wins (1) 1919 (self-proclaimed)

Undefeated seasons (5) 1908, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1918

Home field(s) Douglas Park (1920–1926) Browning Field (1926)

Fan website http://www.rockislandindependents.com/

The Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
were a professional American football team based in Rock Island, Illinois. One of the first professional football teams, they were founded in 1907 by Demetrius Clements as an independent club. They played in the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League
National Football League
(NFL) in 1922) from 1920 to 1925. They joined the first American Football League in 1926, but folded along with the league in 1927. They played in Douglas Park (1907–1925) and Browning Field (1926). Walter Flanigan owned the team from 1915 to 1923; Dale Johnson took over and owned the team until 1926, when the team eventually folded.[1] The Independents' overall NFL record was 26–14–9, with five winning seasons in six years. However, after finishing fourth initially, their best overall finish in the National Football League standings was fifth, which they accomplished three times: in 1921 and 1922 under Jimmy Conzelman, and in 1924 under Johnny Armstrong.[2]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Origins 1.2 Walter Flanigan era

2 National Football League
National Football League
(NFL)

2.1 Dale Johnson era

2.1.1 First American Football League (AFL)

3 Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
alumni 4 Season-by-season 5 References 6 Notes

History[edit] Origins[edit] The Independents were first formed in 1907, when a group of men formed an independent team with no athletic club affiliation, no social club ties and no corporate company backing or sponsorship. As a result, the team was named the Independents. The team went undefeated and unscored upon in five games. Many of the same players from that 1910 team reunited in 1912; under the leadership of John Roche, they won eight games without giving up a score. Walter Flanigan era[edit] In 1913 Walter Flanigan joined the Independents as a backup end. By 1915, Flanigan was the owner of the team. During his tenure, Flanigan promoted the Independents by scheduling two games in 1917 against the Minneapolis Marines, who were considered[by whom?] one of the toughest teams in the Midwest. This contest helped the Independents gain national attention. Rock Island lost to the Marines by a score of 7–3. However, they were defeated by a wider margin, 33–7, in the second game at Minneapolis.

Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
1919 "Champions of the USA"

Flanigan then brought in players from outside the Rock Island area to build on the team. In 1919, he hired Rube Ursella of the Marines to serve as a player-coach. Ursella brought several other Minneapolis players with him. These new players would later help get the team an invitation to join the NFL. The Independents lost only to the Hammond Pros, led by George Halas
George Halas
in 1919. Flanigan then challenged the Canton Bulldogs to a "championship" game, offering a $5,000 guarantee if they would come to Rock Island for the game. But Canton, which had already won the "Ohio League" championship by defeating their arch-rivals, the Massillon Tigers, turned down the offer. It is likely that Canton's Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe
and Ralph Hay learned that Rock Island's game against the Akron Indians
Akron Indians
had drawn only 1,700 spectators and felt that Flanigan could not deliver on his $5,000 guarantee, that was money that came primarily from the gate. However, the Independents still had defeated the Columbus Panhandles
Columbus Panhandles
49–0 and the Indians 17–0 that season. In 1919, prior to the establishment of the National Football League, they claimed to be "Champions of the USA".[3] National Football League
National Football League
(NFL)[edit] Flanigan eagerly joined the new American Professional Football Association (APFA) (later renamed the National Football League
National Football League
in 1922). He was present at the September 17, 1920, meeting at Ralph Hay's Hupmobile
Hupmobile
dealership which established the league. Flanigan made his team a card-carrying charter member of the league and he was named to a committee charged with framing the league's constitution. On September 26, 1920, the first game featuring a team from the APFA was played at Douglas Park. The Independents were victorious as they defeated the St. Paul Ideals 48–0.[4] October 3, 1920, was the first day that games were played exclusively between APFA teams. At Douglas Park in Rock Island, as 3,100 fans looked on, the Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
swamped the Muncie Flyers
Muncie Flyers
by a lopsided 45–0 score. Arnie Wyman, former Minnesota great, made a glittering debut for the Islanders, scoring three touchdowns. This might have been the 1st NFL game ever played. However, NFL historical records don't indicate the kickoff time for this game or the other APFA game played that day between the Dayton Triangles
Dayton Triangles
and the Columbus Panhandles
Columbus Panhandles
in Dayton. [5] Dale Johnson era[edit] In 1923 Flanigan left the team to concentrate on his real estate and insurance businesses. Dale Johnson, another local businessman, took over as the team's owner, with the team's backup quarterback Vince McCarthy acting as manager, with Rock Island High School
Rock Island High School
alumni and Olympian Sol Butler
Sol Butler
joining the squad. Rock Island went 2–3–3 that season, however they did post winning seasons in 1924 and 1925. Jim Thorpe, considered "the World's Greatest Athlete", joined the Independents in 1924 and the team went 5–2–2 in league play. After the 1925 season they toured nationally to promote pro football, often under the name "Tampa Cardinals".[6] First American Football League (AFL)[edit] In 1926, Red Grange and his manager, C. C. Pyle, formed the first American Football League after a dispute over granting Pyle ownership of an NFL franchise in New York City. Thinking that having a league centered on Grange would lead to higher profits, McCarthy pulled Rock Island out of the NFL and joined the new league. The Independents were the only NFL team to make the jump to the rival league. However, the new league did not pay as much as the NFL did a year prior. Several players left the Independents for bigger salaries with other teams. As a result, the Independents ended their season with a 2–6–1 record. The AFL folded and the Independents were not allowed to rejoin the NFL. They played as a minor, semi-pro team in 1927, then went out of business.[7] Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
alumni[edit]

Jimmy Conzelman Joe Guyon Ed Healey Jim Thorpe

Season-by-season[edit]

Year W L T Finish Coach

1907 2 3 1

1908 4 0 0

1909 0 3 0

1910 5 0 0

1911 Did Not Play

1912 8 0 0

Dick Liitt

1913 6 0 1

Dick Liitt

1914 5 2 0

Joseph Smith

1915 5 1 1

Walter Flanigan

1916 5 3 1

Walter Flanigan

1917 7 3 0

Ted Guyer

1918 5 0 0

Walter Flanigan

1919 9 1 1

Rube Ursella, John Roche

Joined the American Professional Football Association

1920 6 2 2 3rd Rube Ursella

1921 4 2 1 5th Frank Coughlin, Jimmy Conzelman

AFPA is renamed the National Football League

1922 4 2 1 5th Jimmy Conzelman

1923 2 3 3 12th Herb Sies

1924 5 2 2 5th Johnny Armstrong

1925 5 3 3 8th Rube Ursella

Moved to American Football League (1926)

1926 2 6 1 7th Johnny Armstrong

AFPA/NFL-AFL Totals 28 20 13

References[edit]

Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511913-4.  Braunwart, Bob & Bob Carroll (1983). "The Rock Island Independents" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 5 (3): 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2012.  Braunwart, Bob & Bob Carroll (1981). "The First NFL Game(s)" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 3 (2): 1–4. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2012.  Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
Historical Site

Notes[edit]

^ Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511913-4.  ^ Braunwart, Bob & Bob Carroll (1983). "The Rock Island Independents" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 5 (3): 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2012.  ^ Braunwart, Bob & Bob Carroll (1983). "The Rock Island Independents" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 5 (3): 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2012.  ^ http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/1920s/founded.aspx ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2011.  ^ Braunwart, Bob & Bob Carroll (1983). "The Rock Island Independents" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 5 (3): 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2012.  ^ Braunwart, Bob & Bob Carroll (1983). "The Rock Island Independents" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 5 (3): 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2012. 

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Rock Island Independents

Defunct National Football League
National Football League
club (1920–25) and Defunct American Football League club (1926) Based in Rock Island, Illinois

Franchise

Rock Island Independents Players

Stadiums

Douglas Park Browning Field

Owners

Walter Flanigan Dale Johnson

Head coaches

Ursella Coughlin Conzelman Sies Armstrong

Lore

Tampa Cardinals

Seasons

1907 1908 1909 1910 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926

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Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
head coaches

Rube Ursella (1920) Frank Coughlin (1921) Jimmy Conzelman (1921–1922) Herb Sies (1923) Johnny Armstrong (1924) Rube Ursella (1925) Johnny Armstrong (1926)

v t e

National Football League
National Football League
charter members

Akron Pros Buffalo All-Americans Canton Bulldogs Chicago (Racine) Cardinals Chicago Tigers Cleveland Tigers Columbus Panhandles Dayton Triangles Decatur Staleys Detroit Heralds Hammond Pros Massillon Tigers† Muncie Flyers Rochester Jeffersons Rock Island Independents

†= Never played in the league

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Defunct National Football League
National Football League
franchises

Charter teams

Chicago Tigers (1920) Cleveland Tigers / Indians (1920–21) Muncie Flyers
Muncie Flyers
(1920–21) Rochester Jeffersons
Rochester Jeffersons
(1920–25) Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
(1920–25) Akron Pros / Indians (1920–26) Canton Bulldogs
Canton Bulldogs
(1920–26) Columbus Panhandles / Tigers (1920–26) Hammond Pros (1920–26) Detroit Heralds / Tigers / Panthers / Wolverines (1920–28) Buffalo All-Americans / Bisons / Rangers (1920–29) Dayton Triangles
Dayton Triangles
(1920–29)

1920s

Cincinnati Celts
Cincinnati Celts
(1921) New York Brickley Giants
New York Brickley Giants
(1921) Tonawanda Kardex Lumbermen
Tonawanda Kardex Lumbermen
(1921) Washington Senators (1921) Evansville Crimson Giants (1921–22) Louisville Breckenridges / Colonels (1921–23, 26) Minneapolis Marines / Red Jackets (1921–24, 29–30) Oorang Indians
Oorang Indians
(1922–23) Toledo Maroons
Toledo Maroons
(1922–23) Racine Legion / Tornadoes (22–24, 26) Milwaukee Badgers (1922–26) St. Louis All-Stars (1923) Cleveland Indians / Bulldogs (23–27) Duluth Kelleys/Eskimos (1923–27) Kenosha Maroons (24) Kansas City Blues (1924) Kansas City Cowboys (1925–26) Frankford Yellow Jackets
Frankford Yellow Jackets
(1924–31) Pottsville Maroons / Boston Bulldogs (1925–29) Providence Steam Roller
Providence Steam Roller
(1925–31) Brooklyn Lions (1926) Hartford Blues
Hartford Blues
(1926) Los Angeles Buccaneers
Los Angeles Buccaneers
(1926) New York Yankees (1927–28) Orange / Newark Tornadoes (1929–30) Staten Island Stapletons (1929–32)

1930s–50s

Brooklyn Dodgers / Tigers (1930–44) Cleveland Indians (1931) Cincinnati Reds (1933–34) St. Louis Gunners
St. Louis Gunners
(1934) Boston Yanks
Boston Yanks
(1944–48) Baltimore Colts (1947–50) New York Bulldogs / Yanks (1949–51) Dallas Texans (1952)

v t e

American Football League (1926)

Seasons

1926

Teams

Boston Bulldogs Brooklyn Horsemen Chicago Bulls Cleveland Panthers Los Angeles Wildcats New York Yankees Newark Bears/Demons Philadelphia Quakers Rock Island Independents

Stadia

Browning Field Braves Field Comiskey Park Commercial Field Davids' Stadium Douglas Park Fenway Park Luna Bowl Sesquicentennial Stadium Ya

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