The Ohio League was an informal and loose association of American football clubs active between 1902 and 1919 that competed for the Ohio Independent Championship (OIC). As the name implied, its teams were mostly based in Ohio. It is the direct predecessor to the modern National Football League (NFL).
|Claim to fame||Predecessor to the National Football League (NFL)|
|No. of teams||23|
|Most titles||Massillon Tigers (5)|
|New York Pro Football League (NYPFL)|
Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit
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.
|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|
|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|
- 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)
- Lancaster Anchors
- Portsmouth Spartans (moved to Detroit to eventually become the Detroit Lions)
- 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
- History of the National Football League
- New York Pro Football League, another NFL predecessor
- Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit, another early pro football circuit that competed at times with various Ohio League teams.
- Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob (1981). "The Ohio League" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 3 (7). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-22.
- NFL.com history pages: 1869-1910 and 1911-1920
- Sye, Roy. Independent Football History (Sye is Vice-President 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.
- While Akron is traditionally listed as champions, the Dayton Cadets won the Southern Division title with an undefeated record. Akron and Dayton never faced each other.
- 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.