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Professional Football Researchers Association

Logo of Professional Football Researchers Association

The Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) is an organization of researchers whose mission is to preserve and, in some cases, reconstruct professional football history. It was founded on June 22, 1979 in Canton, Ohio by writer/historian Bob Carroll and six other football researchers and is currently headed by an executive committee led by its president, Ken Crippen, and executive director Mark L. Ford. Membership in the organization includes some of professional football's foremost historians and authors. The organization is based in Guilford, New York.

The PFRA publishes books and a bimonthly magazine, The Coffin Corner, devoted to topics in professional football history. The organization also gives out awards each year for outstanding achievement in the field of football research.


The Coffin CornerEdit

The Coffin Corner
Editor-In-ChiefMark Durr
First issue1979
CompanyProfessional Football Researchers Association
CountryUnited States

The Coffin Corner is a bimonthly magazine devoted to topics in professional football history. Membership in the organization includes six issues of The Coffin Corner, as well as access to the "Members Only" section of their website, which contains detailed research on a multitude of subjects.


The PFRA's research is mostly divided into committees. Some of these committees are not permanent.

All-America Football Conference
(chair: Ken Crippen)
All-Pro and Awards Committees
This committee researches AP and UPI awards and All-Pro teams. (chair: John Hogrogian, Paul Klatt and John Turney)
Hall of Very Good Committee
Highlights outstanding players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (chair: Andy Piascik)
Linescore Committee
Responsible for compiling linescores for all professional games played since 1920. (chair: Gary Selby)
A committee tasked with developing and collecting educational materials in which the sport of football is used in lessons. (chair: Tom Mueller)
Aims to collect game books from every NFL game ever played. (chair: Giovanni Malaty)
"dedicated to analyzing and reporting on the link between the sport of football and geography." (chair: Andrew McKillop)
Membership Committee
For the PFRA's internal purposes.
Pre-NFL Pro Football Committee
Researches all professional football prior to 1920, such as the Ohio League and the New York Pro Football League. (chair: Roy Sye)
Western, Central and Northern New York Committees
Researches professional football in upstate New York. This committee includes several subcommittees, including Buffalo football teams of the 1920s (chair: Jeffrey Miller), Rochester Jeffersons (John Steffenhagen), Buffalo Indians (Darin Paine), AAFC Bills (Kenneth Crippen), the Empire Football League (EFL commissioner Dave Burch), and Watertown Red & Black (Crippen). (chair: Jeffrey J. Miller)
Compiles all stadiums used by professional football teams.
Compiles all local and national television and radio announcers for every NFL and AFL game ever broadcast since 1939. (chair: Tim Brulia)
Compiles all information on NFL, AFL and AAFC uniforms from 1933 to the present. (chair: Tim Brulia)
Canadian Football League
(chair: Brian Marshall)
United States Football League
(chair: Paul Reeths)
World Football League
(chair: Richie Franklin)
Other Leagues
Any professional football leagues not covered by one of the other committees. (chair: Mark Ford)
Oral History
Chronicles PFRA interviews with former NFL players. (chair: Kenneth Crippen)
NFL Officials
Compiles a list of all NFL officials, their positions and their uniform numbers. (chair: Gary Najman-Vainer)

Ralph Hay AwardEdit

The Ralph Hay Award, named after the Canton Bulldogs owner whose Hupmobile Automobile showroom was the site of the NFL's first organizational meeting, is awarded for "lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography."

Past winners have been:

  • 2017 – John Maxymuk
  • 2016 – Mark L. Ford
  • 2015 – Jack Clary
  • 2014 – Pete Fierle
  • 2013 – Cliff Christl
  • 2012 – Chris Willis
  • 2011 – Ken Crippen
  • 2010 – Pete Palmer
  • 2009 – Bob Carroll
  • 2008 – Ralph Hickok
  • 2007 – Vince Popo
  • 2006 – Emil Klosinski
  • 2005 – John Gunn
  • 2004 – Jeffrey J. Miller
  • 2003 – John Hogrogian
  • 2002 – Ken Pullis
  • 2001 – Tod Maher
  • 2000 – Mel "Buck" Bashore
  • 1999 – Stan Grosshandler
  • 1998 – Seymour Siwoff
  • 1997 – Total Sports Publishing
  • 1996 – Don Smith
  • 1995 – John Hogrogian
  • 1994 – Jim Campbell
  • 1993 – Robert Van Atta
  • 1992 – Richard Cohen
  • 1991 – Joe Horrigan
  • 1990 – Bob Gill
  • 1989 – Joe Plack
  • 1988 – David Neft

Nelson Ross AwardEdit

The Nelson Ross Award is presented annually by the PFRA for "outstanding achievement in pro football research and historiography."

Past winners include:

  • 2017 – Ralph Hickok, for his book, Vagabond Halfback: The Saga of Johnny Blood McNally.
  • 2016 – James C. Sulecki, for his book, The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, 1936-1945
  • 2015 – Ted Kluck, for his book Three-Week Professionals: Inside the 1987 NFL Players’ Strike
  • 2014 – William J. Ryczek, for his book, Connecticut Gridiron: Football Minor Leaguers of the 1960s and 1970s
  • 2013 – Ivan Urena, for his book, Pro Football Schedules: A Complete Historical Guide 1933 to the Present
  • 2012 – Dan Daly, for his book, The National Forgotten League
  • 2011 – Mark Speck, for his book, ...and a Dollar Short: The Empty Promises, Broken Dreams and Somewhat-Less-Than-Comic Misadventures of the 1974 Florida Blazers
  • 2010 – Kate Buford, for her book, Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe
  • 2009 – Robert Lyons, for his book, On Any Given Sunday: A Life of Bert Bell
  • 2008 – Sean Lahman, for his book, The Pro Football Historical Abstract
  • 2007 – Andy Piascik, for his book, The Best Show in Football: The 1946-1955 Cleveland Browns
  • 2006 – Matthew Algeo, for his book, Last Team Standing: How the Steelers and the Eagles -- "The Steagles" -- Saved Pro Football During World War II
  • 2005 – Chris Willis, for his book, Old Leather: An Oral History of Early Pro Football in Ohio, 1920-1935
  • 2004 – Michael MacCambridge, for his book, America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured A Nation
  • 2003 – Mark L. Ford, for his book, NFLX: NFL Exhibition Games 1950 to 2002
  • 2002 – Bob Gill, Steve Brainerd, and Tod Maher, for their book, Minor League Football, 1960-1985
  • 2001 – William J. Ryczek, for his book Crash of the Titans: The Early Years of the New York Jets and the AFL
  • 2000 – Paul Reeths, for his book, "The USFL Chronicle"
  • 1999 – Joe Ziemba, for his book, When Football Was Football: The Chicago Cardinals and the Birth of the NFL
  • 1998 – Keith McClellan, for his book, The Sunday Game: At the Dawn of Professional Football
  • 1997 – Tod Maher & Bob Gill, for their book, The Pro Football Encyclopedia
  • 1996 – John Hogrogian, for his book, All-Pros: The First 40 years
  • 1995 – Phil Dietrich, for his book, Down Payments : Professional Football 1896-1930
  • 1994 – Rick Korch
  • 1993 – Myron J. "Jack" Smith, Jr., for his book, Professional Football: The Official Pro Football Hall of Fame Bibliography
  • 1992 – John M. Carroll, for his book, Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement
  • 1991 – Tod Maher, for his book, Wiffle: The World Football League Chronicle
  • 1990 – Pearce Johnson, for his book, Professional Football in Rhode Island and Its National Connections
  • 1989 – Bob Gill
  • 1988 – Bob Braunwart

See alsoEdit

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