1st Ever NFL Game Was Played Today In 1920… In Rock Island
Imagine if this year's Super Bowl was played on 11th Street in Rock Island, on land cleared for a stadium instead of a Walmart. Imagine if the Quad Cities had an NFL team.
The Rock Island Independents were a real football team, and a founding member of the National Football League when it first formed as the American Professional Football Association.
On this date in 1920, the Rock Island Independents were the first NFL team to play a game, at Douglas Park in Rock Island. The Independents defeated the St. Paul Ideals, 48-0.
One week later, the Independents were host for the first ever official NFL game, again at Douglas Park. The Independents routed the Muncie Flyers, 45-0.
According to Wikipedia, The Independents were a dominant team, and Rock Island a popular place to play amongst the league's players, but that all came to an end when they made the fateful decision to jump to the first iteration of the American Football League when it formed in 1926. They were the only NFL team to make the move to the rival league formed by a disgruntled C.C. Pyle when he was denied an NFL franchise.
The new AFL floundered and finally folded after just one season, and the Rock Island Independents disappeared into history, while the NFL grew into the most popular league in America.
Quad City Vintage Football remembers the Independents with their Annual 1920's Vintage Football Game, to be held this year on October 14th at Douglas Park. The game will be played with 1920's equipment and rules.
Admission is free. Food will be available from Bent River Brewing and Rock Island Parks. Pregame is at 1:30pm, with kickoff at 2pm.
Read more Vintage American Football here.