Ohio League Sport American football Founded 1903 Claim to fame Predecessor to the National Football League (NFL) Inaugural season 1903 No. of teams 23 Country(ies) United States Venue(s) Armory Park
Ceased 1919 Last champion(s) Canton Bulldogs Most titles Massillon Tigers (6) Related competitions New York Pro Football League (NYPFL)
The Ohio League was an informal and loose association of American football clubs active between 1903 and 1919 that competed for the Ohio Independent Championship (OIC). As the name implied, its teams were based in Ohio. It is the direct predecessor to the modern National Football League (NFL).
A proposal to add teams from outside Ohio, such as the Latrobe Athletic Association, to form a formal league known as the "Football Association" fell through prior to the 1904 season.
Though a champion was declared by the group throughout its existence, a formal league was not founded until 1920, when several Ohio League teams added clubs from other states to form the American Professional Football Association. In 1922 the APFA became the National Football League.
Year Champion W L T Deciding game 1902 Akron East Ends 1903 Massillon Tigers 8 1 0 def. Akron East Ends, 11-0 1904 Massillon Tigers 7 0 0 def. Akron East Ends, 6-5 1905 Massillon Tigers 10 0 0 def. Canton Bulldogs, 10-0 1906 Massillon Tigers 10 1 0 def. Canton Bulldogs, 13-6 1907 "All-Massillons" 7 0 1  1908 Akron Indians 8 0 1 1909 Akron Indians 9 0 0 def. Shelby Blues, 12-9 1910 Shelby Blues and Shelby Tigers 14 0 1 def. Akron Indians, 8-5 1911 Shelby Blues 10 0 0 def. Canton Bulldogs, 1-0 (forfeit) 1912 Elyria Athletics 8 0 0 def. Akron Indians 1913 Akron Indians 8 1 2 def. Shelby Blues, 20-0 1914 Akron Parratt's Indians 8 2 1 def. Canton Bulldogs, 21-0 1915 Youngstown Patricians 8 0 1 def. Washington Vigilants, 13-7 1916 Canton Bulldogs 9 0 1 def. Massillon Tigers, 24-0 1917 Canton Bulldogs 9 1 0 def. Detroit Heralds, 7-0 1918 Dayton Triangles 8 0 0 def. Detroit Heralds 1919 Canton Bulldogs 9 0 1
- Akron Pros
- Cincinnati Celts
- Cleveland Panthers (debuted 1919, mainly played non-Ohio teams)
- Cleveland Tigers
- Coleman Athletic Club
- Columbus Panhandles
- Franklin Athletic Club of Cleveland
- Ironton Tanks (consolidation of Irish Town Rags and the Lombards)
- Shelby Tigers (merged with Shelby Blues in 1911)
- Toledo Maroons
- Youngstown Patricians
- Zanesville Mark Greys
- The Detroit Heralds, though based in Michigan, played many of its games against Ohio teams.
- Canton Bulldogs-Massillon Tigers Betting Scandal
- New York Pro Football League, another NFL predecessor
- NFL.com history pages: 1869-1910 and 1911-1920
- Sye, Roy. www.geocities-dot-com/krd4052/FootballResearch/ohio/ (Sye is the head of the Professional Football Researchers Association committee in charge of researching professional football prior to 1920.)
- ^ Massillon won by tiebreaker of common opponents. While both Massillon and the Shelby Blues went undefeated and played each other once to a scoreless tie, Shelby tied the Columbus Panhandles, while Massillon had defeated Columbus twice.
- ^ Both teams finished undefeated, but shared so many players that it was impossible to stage a true championship game. Their records were added together and the two organizations shared the title and officially merged in 1911. The Tigers name was spun off to another team.
- ^ Against Ohio teams only.
- ^ The Professional Football Researchers Association lists 1915 as "no clear champion" and discounts Youngstown's competition as subpar. Canton and Massillon, the next two contenders, tied at 5-2-2.
Ohio League TeamsAkron East Ends • Akron Indians • Canton Bulldogs • Cincinnati Celts • Cleveland Panthers • Cleveland Tigers • Coleman Athletic Club • Columbus Panhandles • Dayton Triangles • Detroit Heralds • Elyria Athletics • Franklin Athletic Club of Cleveland • Ironton Tanks • Massillon Tigers • Shelby Blues • Shelby Tigers • Toledo Maroons • Youngstown Patricians Stadia Related topicsCanton Bulldogs–Massillon Tigers betting scandal • Nesser Brothers
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