American Football League (1936)

American Football League (1936)

All-League selections

There was no All-League team named for the 1936 season. [ [ The Best of the Rest, Part One] - Pro Football Research Association (1983)]


Bill Moore, Los Angeles (end)
Bill Steinkinber, Cincinnati (tackle)
Pete Mehringer, Los Angeles (guard)
Lee Mulleneaux, Cincinnati (center)
Alex Drobnitch, New York (guard)
Harry Fields, Los Angeles (tackle)
Red Fleming, Boston (end)
Harry Newman, Los Angeles (quarterback)
Don Geyer, Cincinnati (halfback)
Al Nichelini, Los Angeles (halfback)
Gordon Gore, Los Angeles (fullback)

Demise of the second AFL

While league champion contenders Boston, Cleveland, and the Yankees were consistent draws in 1936 (Boston nearly outdrawing the NFL rival Redskins, which moved to Washington the following year), the other four franchises presented problems for the AFL. Pittsburgh drew only 2500 customers per home game, Syracuse drew less than 5000 before moving to Rochester (and folding after one game), and Brooklyn didn't have a home until the team followed the Braves to Rochester. With the departure of two franchises (the Braves and the Rams), it was clear that change was in order for the AFL.

In the beginning of 1937, the league inaugurated its third president in less than 14 months, J. J. Schafer, added Jack Dempsey and Bing Crosby to its board, and proceeded to restock its franchise line-up with a franchise in a city in which an NFL franchise failed a mere three years earlier (Cincinnati) and a touring team based in Los Angeles whose application to join the more established league was turned down in favor of the Rams. [Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn, "Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League" (HarperCollins 1999) ISBN 0-060-39232-0]

Unlike the NFL, AFL teams tended to have local interest only. Out-of-town newspapers rarely covered the league's activities, and when they did, the coverage was usually a bare-bones mention of the scores inserted as page filler.

Three weeks into the 1937 season, the poorly-drawing Pittsburgh Americans gave up the ghost while the other eastern teams were suffering the results of player raids by NFL teams (defending champion Boston was virtually gutted, leaving it in no shape to repeat its success).

The entry of the Los Angeles Bulldogs into the league also helped led to league's demise. The new team simply overwhelmed the rest of the AFL as the only team with a winning record. The Bulldogs played all of its away games in the first half of the season and then finished the demolition as they stayed home for the second half. While the Bulldogs had attendance figures comparable to that of the 1936 Shamrocks and Yankees (about 14,000 per home game), the former eastern powers lost their draw. Shamrocks owner Bill Scully noted that the team lost $37,000 in 1937; the rest of the league (excluding Los Angeles) fared worse. [George Gipe, "The Great American Sport Book" (Doubleday 1978) ISBN 0-385-13091-0]

With the optimism that began the 1937 season gone, the second American Football League closed up shop at the end of the season.

After the second AFL

While the existence of the second American Football League was relatively brief, its influence in American sports was actually more than realized at that time. It introduced "major league" football to the West Coast, which had a team based in Los Angeles and played its games there (in contrast to the Los Angeles Buccaneers, an NFL team that was actually based in Chicago). The success of the Boston Shamrocks was a prod for George Preston Marshall to move his Boston Redskins south to Washington.

The AFL was the first "home league" of the Cleveland Rams, which continue to exist as the St. Louis Rams. The Los Angeles Bulldogs returned to the independent circuit in 1938, as did the Cincinnati Bengals, which joined the fledging minor league, the American Professional Football Association, in 1939 and became a charter member of the third AFL in 1940. The Bulldogs also joined the APFA for 1939, before becoming a charter member of the Pacific Coast Professional Football League in 1940.


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