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  Who Really Won In 1921 - by Ken Crippen


Who Really Won In 1921?

The Chicago Staleys were awarded the 1921 APFA Championship by then league president Joe Carr. The Buffalo All-Americans protested, claiming that they deserved to win the championship. This article will examine that controversial championship, and try to decide who was the stronger team.

The Buffalo All-Americans and the Chicago Staleys both finished the season with 9-1 records (ties were ignored). Since there were no championship games in 1921, the championship was decided by a vote of the Association's executive committee in January of 1922. The executive committee ruled that the Chicago Staleys were the champions, based on the generally accepted rule that if two teams play each other more than once in a season, the second game counts more than the first. Buffalo and Chicago played on Thanksgiving Day, with Buffalo winning 7-6. The second game was held December 4. This time, Chicago won 10-7. Buffalo claimed that the second game was just a post-season "exhibition" game, and it should not count in the final standings. Chicago claimed that the Association did not have a set date for the end of the season, therefore the second game could not have been held in the "post-season."

Buffalo also claimed that Chicago counted a game against a non-league opponent in their standings. The Rochester Jeffersons did not play the minimum 6 games required for membership in the Association. The problem with this argument, is that Buffalo also counted a game against those same Rochester Jeffersons in their standings. If you were to follow this further, and eliminated all teams that did not play the required six games from their standings, the Chicago Staleys would have a season record of 7-1-1, while the Buffalo All-Americans would have a record of 4-1-2.

Let us take some time to investigate which team is stronger. If you compare the teams records against like opponents, the result would be a tie. Even if you were to compare the final scores of the games against like opponents, the result is basically a tie (Buffalo outscored their opponents 73-13 while Chicago outscored their opponents 75-19).

Records vs. Like Opponents
  Buffalo Chicago  
  BA Opp CS Opp

Result

Rochester Jeffersons 28 0 16 3 Buffalo
Detroit  Tigers 21 0 20 9 Buffalo
Cleveland Tigers 10 6 22 7 Chicago
Canton Bulldogs 7 7 10 0 Chicago
Dayton Triangles 7 0 7 0 Tie

TOTAL:

73 13 75 19 Tie

In comparing the strength of schedules, Chicago played more games against teams with a winning record, and also had a better record against these teams (Chicago 6-1-0 and Buffalo 2-1-2).

In conclusion, Chicago was the stronger team, and deserved to win the championship. Buffalo's mistake was scheduling the rematch with Chicago the day after playing the Akron Pros (the 1920 AFPA Champions), while Chicago had a week off before the game. Buffalo was also marred during the season, with a controversy. The league mandated that no player could play for two different teams in the same week. During the 1921 season, several of the Buffalo All-Americans also played for the Philadelphia Quakers. Since Philadelphia was subject to the Pennsylvania Blue Laws, the Quakers had to play their games on Saturdays. The Buffalo players played for Philadelphia on Saturday, then travelled back to Buffalo for Sunday's game. A few days before Buffalo played Canton, the league found out about violation of league policy, and made the players choose which team they wanted to play for. Heinie Miller, Lou Little, Butch Spagna, Lud Wray and Johnny Scott chose to stay with the Philadelphia Quakers, blaming the Buffalo management for "blowing the whistle." Buffalo was able to hire players from the Detroit Panthers, who ended their season early, to complete their roster.

Date 1921 Chicago Staleys Schedule CS Opp Att.

10/10

Rock Island Independents @ Staleys
@ Decatur, IL
14 10 5000
10/16 Rochester Jeffersons @ Staleys 16 13 8000
10/23 Dayton Triangles @ Staleys 7 0 8000
11/6 Detroit Tigers @ Staleys 20 9 6000
11/13 Rock Island Independents @ Staleys 3 0 4000
11/20 Cleveland Tigers @ Staleys 22 7 10000
11/24 Buffalo All-Americans @ Staleys 6 7 N/A
11/27 Green Bay Packers @ Staleys 20 0 7000
12/4 Buffalo All-Americans @ Staleys 10 7 N/A
12/11 Canton Bulldogs @ Staleys 10 0 3000
12/18 Chicago Cardinals @ Staleys 0 0 2000

 

Date 1921 Buffalo All-Americans Schedule BA Opp Att
10/2 Hammond Pros @ All-Americans 17 0 3500
10/9 Columbus Panhandles @ All-Americans 38 0 N/A
10/16 N.Y.  Brickley Giants @ All-Americans 55 0 7500
10/23 Rochester Jeffersons @ All-Americans 28 0 10000
10/30 Detroit Tigers @ All-Americans 21 0 7000
11/6 Cleveland Tigers @ All-Americans 10 6 N/A
11/13 Akron Pros @ All-Americans 0 0 N/A
11/20 Canton Bulldogs @ All-Americans 7 7 N/A
11/24 All-Americans @ Chicago Staleys 7 6 N/A
11/27 Dayton Triangles @ All-Americans 7 0 N/A
12/3 Akron Pros @ All-Americans 14 0 N/A
12/4 All-Americans @ Chicago Staleys 7 10 N/A

 

1921 Standings
Team W L T Pct Pts-Opp PPG-Opp
Chicago Staleys 9 1 1 .900 128-53 11.6-4.8
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 2 .900 211-29 17.6-2.4
Akron Pros 8 3 1 .727 148-31 12.3-2.6
Canton Bulldogs 5 2 3 .714 106-55 10.6-5.5
Rock Island Independents 4 2 1 .667 65-30 9.3-4.3
Evansville Crimson Giants 3 2 0 .600 87-46 17.4-9.2
Green Bay Packers 3 2 1 .600 70-55 11.7-9.2
Dayton Triangles 4 4 1 .500 96-67 10.7-7.4
Chicago Cardinals 3 3 2 .500 54-53 6.9-6.6
Rochester Jeffersons 2 3 0 .400 85-76 17.0-15.2
Cleveland Tigers 3 5 0 .375 95-58 11.9-7.3
Washington Senators 1 2 0 .333 21-28 7.0-9.3
Cincinnati Celts 1 3 0 .250 14-117 3.5-29.3
Hammond Pros 1 3 1 .250 17-45 3.4-9.0
Minneapolis Marines 1 3 1 .250 37-41 9.3-10.3
Detroit Tigers 1 5 1 .167 19-106 2.7-15.1
Columbus Panhandles 1 8 0 .111 47-222 5.2-24.7
Tonawanda Kardex 0 1 0 .000 0-45 0.0-45.0
Muncie Flyers 0 2 0 .000 0-28 0.0-14.0
Louisville Brecks 0 2 0 .000 0-27 0.0-13.5
New York Brinkley Giants 0 2 0 .000 0-72 0.0-36.0

 

1921 Rosters
Chicago Staleys   Buffalo All-Americans
Dick Barker
Hugh Blacklock
George Bolan
Guy Chamberlin
Harry Englund
George Halas
Chic Harley
Ken Huffine
Jake Lanum
Jake Mintun
Pard Pearce
Ralph Scott
Russ Smith
Dutch Sternaman
Pete Stinchcomb
Tarzan Taylor
George Trafton
Lou Usher
  Ockie Anderson
Carl Beck
Bill Brace
Moose Gardner
Charlie Guy
Andy Hillhouse
Steamer Horning
Tommy Hughitt
Waddy Kuehl
Jim Laird
Lou Little*
Heinie Miller*
Bob Nash
Jack O'Hearn
Elmer Oliphant
Johnny Scott*
Pat Smith
Butch Spagna*
Herb Stein
Jack Sullivan
Luke Urban
Eddie Usher
Tillie Voss
Bill Ward
Lud Wray*
Swede Youngstrom
* Finished the season with the Philadelphia Quakers


All text taken from the History of Pro Football in Buffalo by Ken Crippen


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